8 Steps to Being More Eco-Friendly

Beyond saving species close to extinction, living an environmentally-friendly lifestyle also contributes to sustainability efforts, diminishing the strain on the planet. In addition to recycling and reusing, consider implementing the following eight eco-friendly practices.

1. Natural cleaning products

Most cleaning products are full of harmful chemicals (such as bleach, ammonia, and lye), which not only pose risks to human health, but to environmental health as well. When the bubbly cleaners travel down drains, they are sent to sewage treatment plants and then to nearby waterways. While most cleaning ingredients are broken down into harmless substances, some are not, threatening both water quality and wildlife. In May 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey found persistent detergent metabolites in 69% of streams tested across the country. These metabolites are classified as APEs (alkylphenol ethoxylates), which have been shown to mimic estrogen, thereby potentially threatening the reproduction of fish. Instead of using these harmful cleaners, look for environmentally and health friendly brands, or simply use a fifty-fifty mix of vinegar and water as an all-purpose cleanser.

2. Use CFL bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs have shorter lifespans and are more expensive than incandescent light bulbs, but they offer drastic energy savings. Even replacing one incandescent with a CFL bulb will save approximately 66% more energy and cut back on 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. If replacing all of your lightbulbs is not feasible, try replacing just one.

3. Unplug appliances

Most people do not realize that energy is being drained as chargers are kept plugged in, even when a device is not connected. The average charger consumes 0.26 watts of energy when unused, and 2.24 watts when a fully charged device is connected to it. Unplug and keep an eye on devices—you will not only save energy but will also avoid shortening your device’s battery life.

4. Use power strips

Power strips can reduce energy consumption by up to 15%, as they allow you to toggle the power flow on and off. This advantage allows you to control the power usage of devices when you are not around, providing a useful alternative when you forget to unplug appliances.

5. Compost

Having a composting system has various benefits, including reducing household waste and cutting down your need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Additionally, compost remediates contaminated soil by absorbing odors, treating semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds, binding to heavy metals, and degrading preservatives and pesticides. Further, composting reduces the production of methane and leachate in landfills, preventing pollutants from running off into water sources. Next time you make your green juice, stop yourself from throwing away the fibers and use them to fertilize your backyard instead.

6. Hang dry clothing

For every hour being used, the dryer produces 4.5-6.6 pounds of carbon emissions. Try hang-drying clothing instead; you will prevent unnecessary greenhouse gases from being emitted, and your outfits will last longer (as they will not shrink or get damaged in the dryer). With longer-lasting clothing, you will also be less likely to give in to fast-fashion practices that are harmful to human and environmental health.

7. Choose bamboo

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth and requires only 1/3 of the amount of water used to grow cotton. Cotton even accounts for 25% of the world’s insecticide use. In addition to providing environmental benefits, bamboo is a superior textile fabric—it is light, strong, and more vivid when dyed. Bamboo fabric is versatile, highly water absorbent, and insulating. For individuals with hemp or wool allergies, it serves as a good alternative—bamboo fiber is naturally smooth and does not require any chemical treatments, allowing it to be worn directly next to the skin. Bamboo is also superior to wood due to its quick replenishment rate; trees take much longer to grow, and are vital for consuming the excess carbon dioxide that’s heating up the planet.

8. Avoid excess energy usage in the kitchen

A significant amount of your household’s energy is consumed in the kitchen. When using the oven, save energy by baking several dishes at once, and consider using a microwave—it consumes 50% less energy than an oven. If it’s time to buy new appliances, look for “Energy Star” qualified products, as they use 10-50% less energy. The position of your appliances also matters—place your refrigerator in the shade, and ensure proper airflow by leaving 7.6 cm of space between the refrigerator and wall.

Also read: 10 Clever Ways to Clean the Un-Cleanable
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