How To Reap the Benefits of Cost-Effective At Home Sustainability
You don’t have to buy a hybrid car, install photovoltaic (PV) cells on your roof, or invest in a tankless water heater to become more sustainable at home.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that these activities aren’t helpful ways to reduce your carbon footprint and become more sustainable overall; any one of the above-mentioned ideas would do just that. And they would also save you a good deal of money in the long term.
But for many, the relatively high cost of the initial investment of these specific sustainability options might detract from their green allure. The dividends in savings they will accrue later on (once the investment is recouped) may seem too far away to consider.
But not to worry—there are many roads that lead to greater sustainability
To be sure, there are myriad inexpensive things you can do in right now that could turn your home into a significantly more sustainable living-space. Some may require just a little bit of patience (and maybe a green thumb), like the growing of deciduous trees on the east and west side of your house, to help cut down on your electricity bill in the summer.
There are important changes you can make in your lifestyle as well, such as:
- Moving into a smaller home (or closer to where you work), thereby reducing the amount of overall finite resources you will consume;
- Eating less red meat, which has a highly-negative impact on the environment in terms of the carbon emissions needed to process the meat; and
- Consuming fewer eggs and dairy products. Production of eggs and dairy can be just as harmful to the environment as meat production.
It has even been shown that if you were to eat just one vegetarian meal a week, you would be saving the planet an equivalent of 1,160 miles in greenhouse gas emissions from driving.
Start with the easiest
- Recycling – You can begin your journey to sustainability by implementing a recycling system in your house (if you haven’t already), and by making sure everyone in the family both knows about it and sticks to it. By separating recyclables and non-recyclables, you will quickly begin to notice a lot of reusable materials that would have otherwise ended up in the trash bin. Plastic and paper bags are one example. Envelopes are another reusable item, along with backsides of used printer paper or scrap paper for notes and memos. Cardboard and cardstock, bubble wrap, and newspaper are useful for packing if you’re planning on moving, or for storing items long-term.
- Composting – Composting is another dirt cheap way to become more sustainable. It involves gathering together dead leaves, grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels, and other organic items into a large container (not unlike a recycling bin outdoors). Next, just sit back and let nature work its magic to turn this amalgamation of odds-and-ends into rich, arable soil. While reducing what goes into your trash, you can also use this ultra-fertile soil to grow your favorite vegetables right in your own backyard.
- Bike-Riding/Carpooling/Public Transportation – By taking a bicycle or public transit to work (if you live close enough), or carpooling with friends or coworkers, you can save on more than just emissions. And though deeply-ingrained in American culture, one person per car is not a sustainable way of living. By carpooling, you will save on gas, save the world less emissions, and you’ll also be able to use the quicker high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane.
Once you have done one or all of these, you can opt to take your sustainability strategy to the next level. This typically entails the installation of low-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads, switching your old incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent light (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), setting your washing machine to its coldest setting, and using natural light instead of electricity during the day.
Living sustainably will show you that you really can do more with less, and will also lessen the burden on your wallet and your overall carbon footprint. And with that, everybody wins.