We all know that we could always do a little more to make the world a greener and more sustainable place. Yet why is it so hard for us to go the extra step to living greener in the first place? “People are leading very full and increasingly complicated lives these days,” says Bill Meyer, chairman of the Lower Hudson Valley Sierra Club. “The good news is it is becoming increasingly easier to live a green life without disrupting our daily routines.”
Ain’t that the truth – many of us dutifully remember to toss our milk containers and pasta boxes in the recycling bin, but that’s the extent of the green living for most of us. Here, we’ve outlined a few small things you can do to help:
1. Change all your light bulbs to energy-efficient LED models. Making sure your appliances are up-to-date and energy-efficient can also make a huge difference.
2. Skip the hand-washing in favor of a fully-loaded dishwasher. Using your dishwasher (especially an Energy Star efficient model) can save up to 5,000 gallons of water a year, and uses less than half the energy as hand-washing your dirty plates.
3. Wash your laundry in cold water. Heating water for laundry consumes 90 percent of the energy needed to wash your clothes.
4. Unplug your phone chargers. These “energy vampires” are still sucking energy even when there’s no phone attached to the other end of your charger – and adding 10 percent to your energy bill every year. Time to unplug ‘em when you’re not using them.
5. Use reusable bags to shop. Once you get in the habit of bringing them with you, you’ll never leave the house without one again. Did you know that plastic shopping bags make up 10 percent of washed up debris on our coastlines? Or that they take anywhere from 15 to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill? Even more reason to make the switch.
6. Eat local. Given that the Hudson Valley is home to amazing farms and produce, this should be easy – eating local not only supports our local economy but reduces pollution and energy used to transport otherwise far-flung items.
These small steps all aid in creating a greener future. Looking for larger ways to make a difference? “Now is the time to think big and weigh climate and energy efficiency into larger periodic decisions, like buying a hybrid or electric car, insulating your home, or putting solar on your roof,” Meyer says.
Another step? Get involved with your local Sierra Club. Information for the Lower Hudson Valley Sierra Club can be found here.