- Les Sublimes' GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING -
More and more homes, apartment buildings and offices are becoming setup for recycling. We no longer need to trash paper, plastic, aluminum, glass or metal. Some places are even implementing city-wide composting programs! When you recycle everything you can, you start to notice how little garbage you are left with on garbage day. And how much less is going to the landfill. Well done!
2. Eat less beef
It takes over 1,200 gallons of water to produce a single 8-oz steak, the same amount of water as a 10 hour shower. In other words, if you reduce your annual food intake by 6 burgers, you are saving the same amount of water you would use to shower for the entire year. Not to mention the fact that producing beef releases five times more greenhouse gas emissions than other animal products, requires 28 times more land, and 11 times more water.
3. Denim: buy less, buy better
On average, it takes over 10,000 L of water to make a single pair of jeans from growing the cotton to end product. That’s a lot of water! Denim is at the top of the water consumption pyramid for clothing. Furthermore, the dying and processing of jeans often results in highly polluted rivers and their surrounding ecosystems. Luckily there are an increasing number of ethical denim companies popping up, such as Noble Denim, AG Jeans and Water
4. Go paperless and manage your bills electronically
You will be saving trees, reducing harmful gases caused by the pulp industry, and cut back on fuel consumption that comes with shipping. When you do need to print, try using recycled paper. And don’t forget to re-use the back of old scraps.
5. Fix leaks
A sink faucet leaking 60 drops of water per minute will waste approximately 730 L of water per month.
6. Unplug electronics and appliances when they are not being used
Unplug your phone charger. Appliances and electronics continue to consume energy when they are turned off but still plugged in to a power outlet. These devices often account for as much as 10 percent of household energy use – and in turn, 10% of your electricity bill. The average U.S. household spends more than $100 each year to power electronics that are turned off. This adds up to over 100 billion kWh and more than $10 billion in energy costs annually in the U.S. alone. Time Saving tip: use a power strip for multiple devices and flip off the switch when you’re done.
7. Use your own mug when you're getting a drink to go
Did you know that if you buy one cup of coffee in a disposable cup each day, you will create 23 pounds of waste in one year? Every year we throw away 2.5 billion disposable cups! And considering that most reusable mugs are designed to be used at least 3,000 times, the positive eco impact of a mug or glass cup can be enormous. We love the selection at Bodum and David's Tea (right).
8. Buy foods that use less packaging
Approximately 18% of the garbage we produce is composed of disposable containers. It seems like everything at the grocery store today comes wrapped in layers of plastic or paper. Buy loose foods if possible and try to select the products with the least packaging. Bring your reusable shopping bags. But if you do forget, always choose paper bags instead of plastic. Paper, since it comes from trees, is at least a renewable resource.
9. Buy used and recycled products
Buying second-hand books, clothing, furniture, electronics and cars will not only save you money. You will also be reducing your overall consumption and saving money! Not to mention having a blast exploring your local flea and antique market, or local vintage shop. Plus, did you know that a lot of new furtinure is made with a coating of formaldehyde? It then slowly gets released into air inside your home over the next few months. So there’s another reason not to buy new!
10. Similarly, resell and donate unwanted items
One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. You finished your spring cleaning but are left with bags of old clothes and household trinkets to dispose of. Instead of chucking them, make some extra cash by selling them at a consignment retailer. Ask friends if they want to take anything. Or best yet, do a good deed and donate them to your local nonprofit resale shop, such as the Salvation Army or Big Brothers. They will either be re-sold to raise funds, or re-distributed to those in need.
11. Take public transit, bike or walk to your destination
You will saves gas, money, and wear on your car. You will also look and feel better for it!
12. Buy local food
So much oil is used to transport food internationally — or even within a country. By buying from local farms, you can lower your carbon footprint since the produce doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to your dinner table. There are farmers’ markets popping up everywhere and they give you a unique opportunity to chat directly to the farmers and learn more about where your food comes from.
13. Check before you chuck electronics
Before you trash your laptop, check to see if it can be fixed and possibly even re-sold for some extra cash. If not, make sure you take it to a special recycling depot for disposal. Most electronic devices contain hazardous materials that will pollute the environment if left in a landfill.
14. Upgrade to energy efficient lighting
Using Compact Florescent Light (CFL) light bulbs can save four times the amount of energy as a regular bulb. They can also last up to ten times longer. But don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave the room. And, if you like using outdoor lighting, try solar powered alternatives.
15. Choose your cleaning products wisely
70% of conventional cleaning products contain harmful non-regulated chemicals, including carcinogens, neurotoxins and mutagens. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which have been associated with tons of health problems, like damage to the liver and central nervous system, are released into the air when products are used and stored, and can also linger in the air long afterwards. Equally disturbing, the majority of cleaning products contain toxic chemicals like ammonia, phosphorus, and petroleum. When you do laundry, wash dishes or flush toilet bowl cleaner you could be sending these poisons into nearby waterways and having a negative impact on wildlife and the environment. Most green cleaning agents are made using naturally derived, safe, non-toxic, and biodegradable ingredients. Read the label!