When it comes to being green, I try to do my best. But my man, well, he used to use disposable everything and he took extra-long hot showers. He also refused to recycle. In other words, he was leading a very un-eco-friendly, very un-green existence.
I realized we had some work to do. Together, we did some research and decided it would be wise if we tried to take some steps to green up both of our acts. What we both found: It's really fun to do it together. Here are 10 simple steps you can do to save the Earth ...
1. Conserve water together. Challenge your family or roommates to take shorter showers. If you shorten your usual shower by just a minute or two, you could save 150 gallons of water a month. Another tip: Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
2. Chill out. Wash your clothes in warm or even cold water, which works just as well to clean clothes, but uses less energy. Plus, it can save about $100 a year in energy costs!
3. Out with the old and in with the new! Clean or replace air filters on your air conditioning unit at least once a month this coming summer.
4. Turn it down. Yeah, those hot showers are pretty nice, but now that the temperature's heating up outside, they're not as necessary anyway! So, see if you can adjust your water heater down to 130 degrees F. You'll save money, too.
5. Don't idle. Not to point fingers, but my boyfriend is pretty bad about this. He'll sit in the car with the engine running in our parking lot listening to his favorite talk radio for a half-hour! What's greener: Learning to love accessory mode! If you're idling for more than 45 seconds, it’s more fuel-efficient to turn the engine off, then restart the car again when you are ready to move.
6. Localize your diet. I love the warmer months, because there are so many more fresh fruits and veggies -- everywhere! Reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing local food products at farmers' markets or participating in community-supported agriculture. You can even start your own garden.
7. Post reminders. Working with others as a team to be green is really effective. Get everyone involved by posting a note on light switches to remind family members to turn out lights when they leave a room. Tape a reminder to your car's dashboard for the main driver to check tire pressure each month. Assign someone to unplug unused appliances each night.
8. Recycle ... and reuse. We all know how to recycle by now, but what about reusing? I know it sounds packrat-ish, but I often put aside boxes I get in the mail or padded envelopes, so that I can reuse them. Same goes for paper bags from the grocery store.
9. Avoid single-servings. Buy in bulk, and then portion out the individual servings on your own in reusable containers.
10. Sunrise, sunset. If you use air conditioning, keep your windows closed and shades or curtains tightly drawn on the sunny side of your house. In winter, save energy by opening your shades in the morning on the eastern and southern sides of your house, and closing them late in the day.
What steps do you take to save the Earth?
Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr