18 Ways to Save the Planet
Follow the easiest guide ever to help make your life more earth-friendly!
Think you could lead a more eco-friendly life? Here are the best, most effective steps you can take, from Taylor Grant, the Executive Environmental Advisor of the EMA (Environmental Media Association).
- Reduce the water temperature in your home. Is the temperature of your shower scalding hot? If you cool your water heater from 140°F to 120°F, you'll prevent burns and save up to 10% of your home's energy use.
- Cut down on your food miles. Food typically travels 1,000 miles before it gets to you, and each of those miles involves the emission of CO2. Cut back by supporting your area's agriculture: visit a farmer's market, look for regional produce at the grocery shop or create a garden of your own
- Combine your trips. Did you know that each week the average American household makes 19 different car trips of 7 miles or less? If we combined or skipped two of those trips we could save 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline.
- Reuse your towels. When staying in hotels, use your sheets and towels more than once. Doing so will save the hotel an estimated 72,000 gallons of water and 480 gallons of detergent per year.
- Do the drive-through. If you must wash your car, take it to a car wash. Professional car washes use an average of 32 gallons of water per vehicle, but cleaning your car in the driveway can use up to 10 times more water.
- Stop your idling. If your car is idling for more than 30 seconds and you're not in traffic, turn it off. An idling car gets 0 miles to the gallon. If the average American can reduce their idling by 2 minutes, our country can save 400 million gallons of gasoline each year.
- Let the dishwasher work. Scrape your dishes off rather than pre-rinsing before loading the dishwasher. You'll save as much as 20 gallons per full load, and your dishes will be just as clean.
- Repair those leaks. When cleaning your house or making repairs, be sure to check your house for leaky faucets or running toilets. Fixing can save you up to 2,700 gallons of water per year.
- Recycle rather than trash. Sort and recycle your waste. If we could convince every American to recycle even just the Sunday paper each week, we could save over 500,000 trees, every week.
- Don't speed. Speeding on the road will decrease a car's fuel economy by as much as 7 percent. If only 1/3 of all drivers decreased their speed by 5 miles per hour it would save about 2.5 billion gallons of gas. Take your foot off the pedal!
- Pump them up. Riding on under-inflated tires can decrease your car's mileage. Surprisingly, about 25% of all cars on the road have under-inflated tires. If all drivers checked their air pressure it could save over 800 million gallons of gasoline.
- Take efficient showers. Did you know that showers account for 32 percent of a home's water usage? By installing a low-flow showerhead a family of four can save up to 20,000 gallons of water each year.
- Carry reusable bags. In the United States we consume approximately 100 billion plastic bags each year. Try using and reusing a canvas bag for your shopping and you will save almost 1000 bags per year.
- Set up a recycling program. On average, up to 80% of a school's waste stream can be recycled, and about ½ of that waste is in paper form. Work with your neighborhood or child's school and make sure that recycling is taking place.
- Use a smarter paint. According to the EPA, the air inside your home is up to three times more polluted than the air outdoors. Much of this pollution comes from paints and finishes. If you are going to repaint any rooms in your house, look for low or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint for the project.
- Buy and use better bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs produce the equivalent amount of light as the standard incandescent bulbs but consume 1/3 of the energy required. They also have a lifespan 10 times longer than standard bulbs. So when your bulbs burn out, replace them with CFL's. Changing out just 5 bulbs can save almost 500 pounds of CO2 and $40 in energy costs per year.
- Adjust your thermostat. By turning your thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees higher in the summer you can save loads of energy. You will also save about 3% on your heating bill for every 24-hour period that you do so.
- Use better energy. Electricity consumption accounts for 40% of the CO2 emissions in the United States. Switch to a supplier that generates electricity through renewable sources such as wind, water and or solar power. If available in your area, switching electricity is a simple process that only requires a phone call and helps to cut down on emissions from coal generated power plants.