Today is Earth Day and though we should celebrate our planet every day, it allows for a day of reflection and renewed commitment.
February 2016 was the hottest February on record, reaching a milestone scientists have been warning us of for decades now . Our sea levels are rising, and there is drought, disease, and increasing global conflict that can all be tied to the warming of the planet. While we are seeing more nations commit to protecting our planet, it is most important that we make changes in our own home, doing our part and teaching our children the same.
It’s a seemingly daunting task, taking on climate change at the personal level, but it is far too easy to not make a sustainable shift in the home. By making a few subtle changes, you’ll find that you save money all while caring more about the world around you. Yes, it’s that inspirational.
This isn’t a debate. We’ve seen the data. We know the facts. Here are five steps to reduce your carbon footprint.
Start Saving Money
- By conserving energy you’ll not only shrink your impact but also save money. The first step is to turn off lights and televisions when you’re not in the room. The next is to install the most energy efficient light bulbs.
- Install auto timers on your thermostat and lights, and convert existing toilet to dual flush.
- Be sure to unplug any appliances or devices that aren’t being used. Have you heard of vampire energy? Energy.gov reports that if you left you didn’t unplug your cable box for a year it adds nearly $18 a year to your utility bill. I can think of a million other things I’d rather put $18 toward by simply unplugging something when I’m done using it.
- Reuse is a fantastic way to save money, as well. We replaced paper towels with rags and towels years ago and haven’t looked back. Compare hand towels and washcloths at IKEA vs. how much you spend in paper towels every year. It’s too easy to throw those rags in with the towels when you wash!
- Cloth diapers may seem intimidating, but I can tell you as a mama who made that choice that they aren’t that bad. Yes, laundry isn’t fun, but either is spending an arm and a leg on diapers every week . With all of the options – from pockets to pre-folds – they are easier than what our grandmothers clothed our parents’ bums with. We also use cloth wipes and they outperform any disposable wipe I’ve ever used.
- You may have heard about menstrual cups, and you may think they’re weird. Factoid: they’re amazing. I didn’t like giving chemical-laden cotton a front row seat to my reproductive system, so I made the switch. The cup paid for itself in two or three cycles, can stay in longer than tampons, and is far better for our bodies and the planet. Just do your research and remember that one or two sizes don’t fit all. That’s why I chose Meluna after miserably failing with the Diva Cup.
- If you want to consider making a choice to a healthier planet that directly affects you as well, consider going meatless. Watch the films Farm Inc., Fork Over Knives, and Fed Up for a little inspiration. The water, land, and chemicals that go into producing hamburgers and chicken fingers are nauseating. We derive many lifesaving drugs from plants in the Amazon which is being destroyed by cattle farms in addition to logging.
- Meatless Monday is an easy way to start. If you can’t cut it out completely, consider trying a plant-based meal once a week. And if you think all meatless meals are salads, oh boy, are you in for a gnarly surprise! Check out my favorite blogs Oh She Glows and The Minimalist Baker for some inspiration. As far as dessert goes, you can’t do any better than Chocolate Covered Katie. And every once in a while you may find something appetizing over on my blog.
- Creating a sustainable home and lowering your carbon footprint is all about making conscious decisions. When you buy an efficient appliance, support local organic farmers at the Farmers Market, and install a rain barrel you benefit your family, your community, and your world.
- Spend time in nature. Nothing makes you realize what’s at stake more than spending time in the sunshine. Hikes and nature walks are our family’s favorite pastime!
- With every decision you make, consider the impact.
Talk About It
- Many of these steps will create conversations without even trying. When someone asks where your paper towels are, pull out your towels, explain how easy the switch was and how you save money. Perhaps mention your favorite documentary or a meatless meal you just enjoyed, and how you make these choices for your family and future generations.
It’s not that hard, yinz. Think of all the time we spend obsessing over reality TV and the newest gadget. Our priorities so easily get out of whack, but there are conscionable choices we can make to benefit us all.
Happy Earth Day! Now, get outside and enjoy it!