As April meets warm spring weather, our thoughts turn to Earth Day. This annual celebration of all things green is our favorite holiday (obviously!) and it serves as a great annual reminder of what’s important. Many have heard the slogan “Make Earth Day Every Day.” Well, that’s easier said than done. Most folks just don’t know where to start and are unsure of which actions will have the greatest impact and make the biggest difference to them and to the environment.
1. Driving – For most people, their car represents the biggest impact they have on the environment. From air-polluting emissions to Middle Eastern oil, our cars represent an environmental challenge, and along with it, an opportunity. To lesson you car’s impact on the world, drive less and drive efficiently. Consolidate trips so you’re not starting and stopping the car repeatedly, if possible. Keep you car tuned up and your tires properly inflated. Your gas mileage will improve, using less gas and saving you money – it’s a win-win-win!
2. Lighting – Replace all light incandescent light bulbs in your house with compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) lights. The prices of such green lighting has dropped dramatically. Such upgrades will not only help green your home – they’ll also add some green to your bank account because they use less energy and last longer.
3. Eating – Eat foods grown locally. Not only will it help your local economy and keep money in town, it reduces the amount of trucks on the road needed to deliver food across the country. Try to eat as much food as you can that’s grown locally – starting in your own backyard! A backyard garden is a great way to save money, help the environment and eat healthier all at the same time.
4. Shopping – Don’t drive to the mall next time you need something. Ride a bike downtown and shop locally. You’ll improve air quality, the local economy and your own health. Talk about benefits!
5. Heating and Cooling – The heating and cooling system in your home is likely your second biggest impact on the environment after your car. There are many option available to homeowners, but first do the basics: weatherstripping to keep your heating and cooling in the house. Insulation serves the same purpose, and both put money back in your pocket.
6. Building – Green building is all the rage, but you don’t need to buy a new house to have a green home. From the outdoor landscaping to the back yard, green choices are available to suit nearly every homeowner’s vision. Going inside, everything from green “Energy Star” appliances to green furniture and paints are available to lessen the impact your home has on the world around it.
7. Printing – Printing documents is becoming increasingly unnecessary with the advent of electronic filing. Consider the environment before printing document and if you do need to print, then purchase recharged and reused cartridges. The environmental impacts on water quality alone would be enormous if we just kept more cartridges out of landfills.
8. Investing – Your retirement funds and other savings could be invested in polluting industries and unsustainable businesses, and you may not even know it. Review the holdings in your mutual funds and retirement accounts. There are a wealth of socially responsible, green investing opportunities all just a Google search away. Invest your green in green and watch both grow!
9. Cleaning – The cleaning products in the closet or under the kitchen sink likely contain the most toxic substances in your home. Changing to clean products will not only keep your home clean, they will keep your home and your family healthier.
10. Living – Living green is something you can choose to do every day. From your meals to your home to your car to your activities, your choices and even your thoughts. When taking action, choose the green path, the sustainable path. You will be richly rewarded for your green deeds!