So you’re stuck at home like the rest of us. While you are working on some new projects, you may have noticed how many electronics you have plugged in, how much more power you’re using, or how much waste you consume throughout the day.
Well it’s Earth Day, so I’m here to give you some easy ways to celebrate Earth Day that you can use all year-round. Already do some of these? Check out some of the harder actions on our list if you’re an Earth Warrior.
EASY ACTION: Check out your energy use
Did you know that watching a movie through a PS3 uses twice the energy as streaming it? And more energy doesn’t just mean you’re wasting electricity — it also means you’re wasting money.
These switches can help you save energy (and save money), which helps you and the planet in the long run.
- Use a smart TV or streaming device (like an Apple TV) to stream movies and shows instead of a gaming console. Consoles are tremendous energy wasters, so stick to using them for gaming only.
- Unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. Unplug that extra monitor and your appliances in your kitchen when you’re not using them. We all know you have some extra time, so spend it on this! The extra electricity the appliances use is called a “phantom load,” and the energy can add up.
- Run your dishwasher and washing machine at night. The grid is (marginally) less busy at night (think about it – people have their lights off, likely only have one TV on if they are watching a movie as a family) so the demand for electricity is lower. It’s cheaper that way.
- Reduce your hot water use. 15 to 30 percent of your home’s energy usage goes to heating water (!!!!), so to reduce this, wash your clothes in cold water, take shorter showers, reduce the temperature on the water heater, and turn off the water when you brush your teeth. The Earth will thank you, too!
If you want extra credit (and you own your home), do the entire Home Energy Efficiency Checklist. Now is the perfect time!
EASY ACTION: Clean up your neighborhood
This one may seem hard, but it’s quite easy! With a pair of gloves on (and face mask too, of course!), head outside and pick up any trash that could be swept into storm drains. It’s important to keep storm drains clean of trash to keep water flowing and trash, well, not flowing!
You don’t have to do much here — a little goes a long way in keeping your street clean.
Also, take special care to note when you’re putting out your recycling! If it’s going to rain or thunderstorm, put out your recycling right before the garbage truck comes — a little rain isn’t going to melt you! This ensures that your recyclables make it into the truck.
INTERMEDIATE ACTION: Do an at-home waste audit and make changes
If you haven’t noticed how much packaging your food comes in before, I hope you have noticed it now that experts are suggesting to wipe off your grocery store purchases as an extra precaution.
The quarantine is a perfect time to see how much waste you create, but also take steps to stop buying it in the first place! If you notice that something you buy in the store has an alternative with less packaging, buy that instead. If you notice that something you usually buy has packaging that is more easily recycled, check that out, too.
During this home audit, see if you can swap out things that are completely plastic for things that aren’t. Take shampoo and conditioner, for example. There are easy replacements (some that come without packaging, for example!), some that you can even get at Target, that come in a bar. Say goodbye to bulky plastic containers. Most replacements are even cheaper (they may be more expensive up front, but last longer) and are better for your hair with more natural ingredients).
Your bathroom is an easy place to start reducing waste, but you can also work on reducing kitchen waste from plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, and aluminum foil. And remember — you don’t have to give everything up! It all starts with reduction.
Also, take this time to check out your local recycling rules. You may be recycling things you shouldn’t!
HARD ACTION: Start composting
This is the hardest on the list mostly because some of us who live in apartments (guilty) can’t compost properly. Of course, I could use a kitchen compost bin, but it would do no good because I have nowhere to keep the compost!
But if you have a yard, check out this guide on how to start composting. You will feel so much better about not wasting kitchen scraps — and you’ll have something to feed your garden (something I’ll make you do next year for Earth Day!).
Did I miss any at-home Earth Day tips? Let me know in the comments!