Tips for Sustainable Living

With summer almost over, it's time to begin planning for the fall months ahead. We've had so much fun with our #sustainablesummer campaign, but we want eco-friendly practices to be in place year round! Sustainable living is a lifestyle that aims to minimize the use of natural resources. It's something that we should all keep in mind as we think about sustainable practices we can incorporate into our everyday lives.

Here are some sustainable living tips to get you started:

1. Join a community garden. Space and time limitations can make it a hassle to build a garden in your own home, but community gardens are an easy way to get involved in green living. Community gardens create green spaces in your area, and they are a great way to teach younger children about the benefits and joys of sustainable living. Especially in urban communities with higher levels of carbon emissions, gardens can play an important role in offsetting your carbon footprint. For help finding a community garden near you, visit the American Community Gardening Association.

2. Change the lightbulbs in your home. Solights are a great alternative to traditional lighting, and they can light up an entire 10x10 room! However, for times when traditional lighting is needed, consider changing your lightbulbs to more eco-friendly options. Look for ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs. Some good options include halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Besides being more energy efficient, switching to these lightbulbs has economic benefit, too. They use about 25% to 80% less energy that traditional lightbulbs, and can last 3-25 times longer, saving you a lot of money long-term.

3. Rethink transportation. There are so many ways to get around nowadays, so why not use a method that's sustainable too? Although walking is always a good option, sometimes that's not always possible. Biking, scootering, skateboarding, even rollerblading are all eco-friendly modes of transportation. They not only lessen air pollution, but you can get a work-out in, too! And when these methods won't cut it, consider public transportation or setting up a carpool. You won't have to drive yourself everywhere, and you'll be reducing your carbon footprint.

5. Unplug devices when they're not in use. Anything that is plugged in will bleed energy. This energy is referred to as standby electricity, and applies to appliances that are turned off, chargers that aren't charging, and chargers that don't even have a device plugged in. Unplugging these devices saves a significant amount of energy every year-- the Department of Energy estimates that about 5-8% of a single family's annual usage is standby electricity. This is equivalent to an entire month's energy bill, so unplugging those devices means more money in your pocket, too. Or even easier, use a power strip and flip off the switch when you are done.

6. Streamline your washing habits. We tend to wash everything way too much, and often when we don't even need to. Wash all your dishes in a sink full of water; this way, you won't need to run the faucet individually. You can do a final rinse later when you're done. Do your laundry less often, and then only with a full load. You don't need to wash pants or sweaters after a single wear! Take shorter showers, and try to only shower once a day. Not only do excessive showers waste water, but showering too much can damage your hair and skin.

7. Get rid of junk mail. We are all familiar with the piles of junk mail we receive every week. Most of the time, this mail ends up straight in the bin. Why not get rid of this altogether? Reach out to the distributing company or marketing association and asked to be removed from their mailing list. You can also paste a "no junk mail" sign onto your mail box. Not only will you declutter your personal life, but you'll also save paper.