Tomorrow marks the 42nd annual Earth Day celebration — the one day of the year dedicated to increasing awareness and showing appreciation for Earth’s natural resources. Earth Day is a great reminder that we all have a responsibility to do our part to preserve the planet for generations to come. Transitioning to an environmentally friendly lifestyle can seem daunting, but don’t worry — by making small changes today, you can have a big impact on tomorrow.
Ready to get started? Here are a few simple things you can do at home to go green and help save our planet.
It happens to all of us — we get new electronic equipment then wonder what the heck we’re going to do with the old electronics. And putting them in the garbage is not really an option. When people toss their unwanted or outdated electronics, it fills our landfills with dangerous chemicals and heavy metals. In 2010, the U.S. produced more than 2.4 million tons of e-waste, but only recycled 649,000 tons. Pretty alarming, isn’t it?
This infographic from Server Monkey provides more info on the growing e-waste epidemic. But there is a solution. The Consumer Electronics Association launched GreenerGadgets.org to provide people with easy access to e-cycling information, including how to find the nearest electronics recycling center. While you’re there, be sure to check out their Energy Calculator to see how your favorite electronics and your usage habits affect your energy bill.
Household water consumption has increased 200 percent since 1950, and as a result, many states are anticipating water shortages in the next six years. Each person uses about 100 gallons of water a day, but you can dramatically reduce your usage by making simple changes to your daily routine. If you’ve been putting off repairing that dripping faucet or leaky toilet, now’s the time to fix it. A dripping faucet can waste 74 gallons a day and a leaky toilet 200 gallons day, which quickly adds up to more than 100,000 gallons a year — pretty amazing, isn’t it? Other quick fixes: Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, and run only full loads of dishes and laundry.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Compact fluorescent light (CFL) light bulbs use 50 percent to 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Installing CFL bulbs throughout your house will not only cut down your energy usage, it’ll also prolong the amount of time in between bulb changes. Since CFLs last up to 10 times longer, you’ll save almost $80 over the life of the bulb.
Alter Your Commuting Habits
According to the Worldwatch Institute, Americans consume approximately one quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources, yet we make up less than 5 percent of the worldwide population. Coupled with rising fuel prices, doesn’t it only make sense to consider leaving the car parked and either opting for public transportation, or walking or biking to work? Better for you and better for the environment — so it’s a win for everyone.
And if driving, consider carpooling and/or adopting more fuel-saving techniques like avoiding rush hour, maintaining a reasonable driving distance between other vehicles on the road and anticipating light changes to avoid abrupt stops.
DIY Home Energy Audit
Your home may be expending much more energy than you realize. The good news? A simple walk-through of your home can reveal potential problem areas and help you improve its energy efficiency (not to mention save money, too — always a bonus).
First, look for obvious drafts near windows, doors, or gaps in the baseboards. Consider replacing old doors or windows, or adding caulking or weather stripping to stop the air leaks. Second, check your insulation levels on the ceiling and walls, especially if you have an older home with the original insulation. And finally, keep your heating and cooling equipment in optimal condition by having it inspected per the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and change the air filters regularly. If your unit is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with an Energy Star-rated system. Your reduced energy consumption will balance out the initial investment of the new system over the course of its life.
The list of things you can do is long, but you don’t need to do everything all at once. And starting — even starting small — can make a big difference. What do you say: This Earth Day, how about we all make a commitment to do at least one thing for the planet?
Tell us: How do you plan to spend your Earth Day?