Ah, the start of a new decade. A time for setting goals, making plans, and hopefully figuring out fresh ways to go green. Yes, friends, there’s no longer any point in denying the obvious: Climate change is real and it’s time to do something about it.
Sure, most of us probably don’t have the resources to regulate the climate on our own (unless you’re Bill Gates in which case, get to work), but we can all contribute something to the common good.
With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some simple ways to go green in 2020. Pick a few you like, substitute in others you already practice, and you’ll be well on your way to living a more environmentally friendly life.
So, you know what recycling is, but have you ever heard of precycling? It’s basically a concept in which you consider the “end life” of a product before buying it. If you’re grocery shopping, for example, you’d take note of how certain goods are packaged: Are they wrapped in multiple layers of plastic? Are they held together by rubber bands or zip ties? By taking stock of all these factors, you can better imagine what the recycling of that product would look like. Then, you can choose the one with the most minimal packaging.
Ultimately, it’s less waste for you to deal with and less pesky plastic going into the local landfill. Bonus points if you use your own personal shopping bags to tote these goodies home!
Pay Bills Online
Talk about an easy fix. If you’re still paying your bills by mail, stop that sh*t right now and set up a direct transfer online. This will cut down on the paper mail you receive and will thereby cut down on the amount of paper you need to recycle. It’ll also give your junk drawer a much-needed break.
Another great way to eliminate paper waste is to refuse receipts when possible. If you’re running to the pharmacy for some Tylenol, let’s say, you probably don’t need them to print out a mile-long piece of paper detailing your $10 purchase. So, before they ring you up, ask that they not print a receipt. Simple, fast, and impactful. However, if they do print out a receipt, please make sure to recycle it.
Unsubscribe from Junk Mail
You already hate receiving junk mail, so why not put a stop to it? Though it might seem impossible to cease the ebb and flow of unwanted waste to your mailbox, it’s actually much easier to pull off than you might think. DMAchoice, for example, allows you to “give your mailbox a makeover” by choosing the mail you’d like to receive. And if you specifically want to stop getting credit card promotions, hop on over to OptOutPrescreen to, well, opt out of ‘em.
Did you know that leaving your appliances plugged in when they’re fully charged can waste a ton of energy? Yeah, I was also unaware, which is why I was pretty shocked to find out that regularly clearing out your outlets could save you upwards of $200 a year on energy costs. That money also translates to big savings for the environment, so make sure to be intentional with how you charge.
Buy a Water Bottle
If you haven’t already invested in a reusable water bottle, now is the time to do so. You can find many different options on the Internet, ranging from sturdy aluminum models to collapsable plastic ones. It’s an easy switch, but one that can do a lot to minimize the amount of waste you produce.
Get a Library Card
My dear, sweet bibliophiles, I know this next one is hard, but you’ve gotta stop buying new books. Yes, they look great on a bookshelf, but the toll all that paper production takes on the environment just ain’t worth it, especially when there are so many eco-friendly ways to read. Though you could switch to a tablet or buy used, my favorite option is to whip out the ol’ library card. That way, you can still experience the feel of reading a “real book” without the clutter or waste.
Do Less Laundry
Seriously, do less laundry. Though it may seem unhygienic, I am 100% giving you permission to give your washer a rest. In truth, you don’t actually need to wash your clothes that often, most of us have just been conditioned to toss clothes in the bin after a single use. By cutting down on how often you wash your clothes (like, say, waiting three wears before throwing in your favorite blue jeans), you can save a lot of water. And when you do wash, make sure to use cold water.
Speaking of clothing, consider incorporating some vintage items into your rotation. Personally, I find it difficult to thrift for all my clothing (especially for essentials like T-shirts, underwear, and socks), so I aim for a nice balance of store-bought and secondhand in my wardrobe. It may be impossible to totally escape the wasteful pitfalls of Fast Fashion, but thrifting makes it at least somewhat manageable.
Repair, Don’t Replace
But when you do need to buy something new, take the best care of it that you can. Get your shoes cobbled if the soles start wearing out. Learn how to darn socks. Take a broken laptop to a local computer shop before tossing it. Yes, it’s easy to replace items, but it’s so much more meaningful to put in the effort to make ‘em last.
Well, folks, that does it for this eco-friendly guide. For more green ideas, check out our guide to buying sustainable clothing.
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