Happy New Year! Have you given up on those New Year’s resolutions yet? Instead of trying to stick to traditional resolutions like losing weight or quitting smoking, why not resolve to become more environmentally friendly in 2019? It’s not too late to make a decision and stick to it, after all. Here are some tips to help you be more environmentally friendly in the coming year, without upsetting your lifestyle or emptying your wallet.
Opt for Green Energy
We said we weren’t going to make a dent in your budget with these suggestions, which means we’re not going to suggest you install solar panels on your home. You can still choose green energy without paying for high-tech hardware. Many utility companies around the country are working with green energy providers to lower home energy costs and reduce their collective carbon footprint. These green energy cooperatives allow you to use green energy to power your home and reduce your electricity bill, without the significant investment you would need to install solar panels or wind turbines on your property.
Fiddle With Your Thermostat
We get it. A man’s home is his castle, and the thermostat is the scepter with which he rules, but if you want to be a bit more eco-friendly during the coming year, it might be time to start fiddling with your thermostat a little bit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, changing your home’s temperature by seven to 10 degrees for eight hours during the day can reduce your home’s energy consumption by up to 10 percent.
In the summer, this means increasing your thermostat to 78 degrees. In the winter, you should set your heater to 68 degrees. You can do this manually, or opt for a programmable or smart thermostat if you don’t remember to adjust the temperature when the weather changes.
Remember the Three R’s
Remember the three R’s they taught you in elementary school — reduce, reuse and recycle? Taking time to recycle things like paper, plastic, metal and even textiles can help you be more eco-friendly and doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part. In some states, solid waste management companies will also recycle electronics, or even hazardous materials like gasoline, paint and construction waste. It’s easier than ever to start recycling your waste. In 2014, New Jersey reported upwards of 62 percent of 13 million tons of solid waste they collected was earmarked for recycling, and those numbers have only gone up in the intervening years. Check with your local utility companies to see what sort of programs that they offer.
Food waste is an enormous problem around the world. In 2019, make it a point to waste less food. You might need to grocery shop more often to keep meat and produce from spoiling in your fridge, or free up space in your freezer so you can save leftovers longer.
Food waste enters landfills where it decomposes, releasing greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. If you plan to start a garden in the new year, keep your organic waste — from vegetable skins and eggshells to coffee grounds and spoiled leftovers — and create a compost bin. You don’t need a large yard to compost — small countertop or ground-sitting compost barrels can do the job just as well while taking up minimal space.
You don’t have to change your entire lifestyle or empty your bank account to be eco-friendly in 2019. Take some of these ideas for a test run and see how they fit with your current lifestyle.
Photo provided by the author.