Ridiculously Easy Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact at Home

"Ridiculously Easy Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact at Home" and an image of the northern lights behind a mountain range

Earth Day is one of the best days of the year. Why? Because for a day, everyone slows down to think about their impact. However, lessening your impact takes almost no effort, but just a little thought.

Things You Can Do

Drive the Speed Limit

Driving at 50mph uses 25% less fuel than 70mph, and you won’t risk getting a ticket! 

Invest in Nice Blankets and Sweaters 

There’s no need to waste energy by cranking up the heat. 

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

CFL’s use up to 75% less energy than regular light bulbs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere.

Recycle Your Glass Bottles and Aluminum Cans

If you recycle one aluminum can, it can produce enough energy to power a TV for three hours. Glass bottles and aluminum cans are easily recyclable. New York State’s Returnable Container Act requires every deposit initiator to collect 5 cents on beverage containers containing less than one gallon, but you get the money back if you recycle your bottles and cans! 

Research your Reusable Bag

The Bag Waste Reduction Law banned plastic bags in New York State. Although it is good to cut back on single-use products, many reusable bags are made destructively and require thousands of uses to make them worth it. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you educate yourself on the materials used to make your reusable bag. 

Paint Your Walls a Pale Color and Donate the Paint

If you paint your walls a pale color, you’ll need less artificial lighting in your room because it naturally brightens the space. After you’re done, donate the paint or take it to hardware stores so they can dispose of it properly.

Clean the Back of Your Fridge

A lot of us have never even considered cleaning the back of the fridge. However, dusty coils can increase energy consumption by 30%.

Cut the Plastic Rings on Packs of Cans

Because plastic rings are invisible in water, wildlife can choke on them or trap themselves.

Check Your Sunscreen and Reduce Your Water Consumption

Coral reefs make up 50% of the Earth’s oxygen supply. Unfortunately, daily water waste is greatly contributing to coral bleaching. Additionally, 90% of sunscreens on the market contain chemicals that directly correlate to the death of coral reefs. Before you shower, use water, and swim, consider the impact on our oxygen supply. 

Reduce Food Waste

In the United States, we throw out 40% of our food each year. Food waste turns into destructive carbon emissions. To reduce your food waste, make a food plan and take your leftovers at restaurants. 

Buy Second Hand or Donate to Consignment Shops

Making new clothes wastes tons of water. If you’re able to buy second hand, do it. If that’s not your thing, at least donate your clothes after you’re done with them. 

Extend the Life of Your Clothes

It takes 713 gallons of water to make one cotton shirt. Knowing the impact, wear your clothes more than you normally would. If they are becoming a bit raggedy, turn your old clothes into rags or pajamas! 

Regularly Maintain Your Vehicle

When your car is getting old, parts don’t work as well. This causes more emissions to release into the air. 

Reduce Your Junk Mail and Cancel Your Paper Bank Statements

We have an electronic world at our fingertips! Everyone receives junk mail, and in the process, 100 million trees are being cut down. Instead of just tossing your junk mail to the side, make sure you cancel your subscriptions to junk mail and paper bank statements. 

Use Non-Chemical Deicer

There’s literally no reason to use deicer with chemicals. Making your own at home is cheaper and works just as well. Mix two parts rubbing alcohol and one part water to create the solution. 

Use Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries actually use less energy, because it takes more energy to produce a new battery than recharge an old one. 

Turn Your Phone Off or on Flight Mode to Save Battery 

If you’re not actively using your phone, turn it off or on flight mode. The less your phone loses battery, the less energy you’re using to recharge! Trust me, turning off notifications for a while is healthy.  

Boil Water Only When You Need It

Don’t leave the water boiling for longer than you need to. Boiling water uses a lot of energy, so be thoughtful on how you’re using your stove.

Use Timers for Outdoor Lights

Outdoor timers are great. You’ll never forget to turn the lights off, and you’ll never leave them on for longer than necessary! 

Print on Both Sides of Paper

Single sided paper printing is pointless. Unless you’ve only got one page to print, make sure you're printing double sided. 

Use Blinds and Curtains to Your Advantage

Blinds and curtains are not just for controlling lighting in your house. They are very efficient to control temperatures, as well. If it is cold and dreary outside, close your curtains to trap in heat. If it is sunny, open your curtains to let heat in.

Consider a Smaller Space

Try finding roommates or downsize your home. Powering a big place to yourself is unnecessary and wastes energy. If you’re really committed, check out tiny homes! They’re so cool! 

Buy Flight Carbon Offsets

Some people can’t help but travel. If you’re a frequent flyer, buy flight carbon offsets to make up for your flight’s impact.  

Things to Avoid

Eating Meat and Dairy

Going vegan is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact. The Earth’s water supply is depleting quickly. It takes 2,400 gallons to make one pound of meat, yikes! Going vegan is a big commitment. If you’re not ready to take the leap, try reducing your meat and dairy intake as much as possible! 

Don’t Wash Your Car Yourself

Professional car washes have machines that use the most efficient amount of water possible.

Don’t Use a Coffee Stirrer 

Use a reusable spoon instead of a single-use stirrer. 

Don’t Pre-Rinse Dishes

Believe it or not, dishwasher detergent is made to cut through grime on plates. Not only will this save water, but your plates won't wear as easily! 

Don’t Do Half Empty Loads of Laundry or Dishwasher Cycles

A washing machine uses a lot of water and a tumble dryer uses a lot of energy. We all have to clean our clothes eventually, just don’t waste resources by doing half empty loads of laundry.

Don’t Leave the Tap On

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don't waste water.  

Don’t Use Standby Mode

Although the appliance may seem off during standby mode, it isn’t completely. It is still using energy. Make sure you turn off and unplug appliances after use. 

Don’t Use a Keurig

Keurig’s plastic pods generate a lot of waste. If you already have a Keurig, at least buy recyclable or reusable pods. 

Don’t Use Single-Use Containers

Ditch the single-use utensils, sandwich bags, and containers. It’s not hard to throw reusable containers in the dishwasher to reduce your waste! 

Don’t Kill Bees

Without bees, the planet would only live for 60 years. Sure, bees can be irritating. Do yourself and the planet a favor and leave the bees alone.

Don’t Shower Everyday

Of course, practice good personal hygiene. But if you don’t sweat much, and feel comfortable putting on some deodorant and dry shampoo, don’t waste water! If you must shower daily, try to shower as fast as possible. 

Don’t Cook Individual Portions

Meal prepping or cooking for groups uses much less energy than cooking for yourself for every single meal. Use your stove and oven once, then eat leftovers.

Keep these tips in your head each and every day! Happy Earth Day! 

Tagged: Earth Day, Planet Rochester Institute of Technology,