You love our planet, and you want to do your part to help the environment. But when you consider the enormity of problems like climate change, it’s easy to feel powerless to help. Here’s the truth: Our individual choices can have a real impact.
In honor of this year’s Earth Day, here are some sustainable steps you can take to help the environment and lead to a cleaner, greener planet.
Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
From LED lightbulbs and programmable thermostats to smart fridges and high efficiency washing machines, there are a lot of energy-efficient appliances that can help reduce your energy consumption—and lower your utility bills. Using cold water to wash your clothes and air-drying your dishes and laundry will also reduce your energy use.
For even more energy savings, invest in solar panels for your home. Solar power reduces carbon emissions and reduces dependence on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. Going solar can potentially improve the value of your home and can significantly reduce or even eliminate your electric bills.
You can also swap out your current faucets, shower heads, and toilets with low-flow versions. You’ll conserve a significant amount of water, which will also help you save money on your water bill. Other ways you can conserve water include taking shorter showers, repairing leaking pipes, and collecting rainwater in a barrel.
Clean the air inside your home with houseplants. By removing carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen, plants will help purify the air inside your home. Some species can even remove toxic chemicals like formaldehyde that are released by carpets and furniture, making them ideal for living areas. In addition, use green cleaning products instead of store-brand products, which may have harmful chemicals and toxins. It’s easy to make your own natural cleaning solution using white vinegar and water.
Choose fuel-efficient travel options whenever possible, like walking, biking, carpooling, or using public transportation. Try to bundle trips to reduce your carbon footprint. Combining multiple errands in similar locations will help limit unnecessary driving (and help you save on rising gas costs).
If long commutes are unavoidable for you, consider buying a hybrid or electric car. While they come with higher price tags initially, these vehicles usually have cheaper fuel and maintenance costs over the life of the car. You can also improve your current vehicle’s fuel efficiency by keeping your tires properly inflated, turning off the air conditioning, and avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking—all factors that contribute to increased fuel consumption.
Be a Conscious Consumer
Instead of buying online or at a “big box” store, try to purchase from a merchant in your community instead. Not only does shopping local support your local economy, it’s also better for the environment since the products don’t have to be transported as far.
You can also help reduce plastic pollution by purchasing items with less packaging. Try switching to a shampoo or body wash bar to minimize your use of plastic bottles, buy products that are made of recycled materials, and choose products in glass, not plastic, if they’re available. And although they might be convenient, cut back on single-use items, like plastic cups, disposable silverware, and plastic baggies.
Eat Well, Not Wastefully
Eating locally grown produce and meat is another way to be more environmentally friendly. Check out farmers markets near you, or try growing your own small vegetable or herb garden in your windowsill. Since producing plant-based foods requires less energy, land, and water (and results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions), eating less meat and dairy can significantly lower your environmental impact. Start with Meatless Monday and work your way up to several vegetarian or vegan meals each week.
Another way to help the environment is to reduce food waste. Wasting food means you’re also wasting the energy and resources that were used to grow, package, and transport it. Even worse, food that is rotting in a landfill produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Learn how to get creative with leftovers, freeze fruits and veggies for later meals, and start composting.
Help Clean Up
The Great Global Cleanup® is a worldwide campaign to reduce waste and plastic pollution. The program’s goal is to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, and parks to improve habitats and prevent (further) harm to wildlife and humans. You can join an existing cleanup group, register your own, or participate in solo cleanup efforts to help beautify our planet
At USE Credit Union, we believe in making our planet a better place for our communities now and for generations to come. Thanks to our partnership with Energy Loan Network®, USECU offers 100% financing on solar loans. If you haven’t already, sign up for free eStatements. It’s a convenient, secure way to access your monthly account statements online, while helping to reduce paper waste. Use online and mobile banking to pay bills online to reduce writing checks and using envelopes, and sign up for direct deposit through your employer instead of receiving a paper paycheck.
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