Want to be more eco-friendly but don’t know where to start?
You’ve come to the right place!
And also, congratulations! The fact that you are looking to stand up for the environment makes you a hero in our eyes. The more people who embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle, the better off we will all be!
So how exactly does one become “more” eco-friendly?
First, let’s talk about what being eco-friendly really means.
You might think that being eco-friendly means turning off the lights when you aren’t using them and separating the trash from the recyclables. And while you certainly aren’t wrong, being eco-friendly means so much more than that.
Put simply, being eco-friendly means that you are taking active steps towards embracing a greener lifestyle and supporting a healthy environment.
The keyword here is a lifestyle.
It’s not a fad. It’s not something that you only do when you are bothered to remember it. It’s something that you LIVE if you are truly serious.
Now, we aren’t trying to scare you away. Even small actions, when repeated over time by many people, can have huge positive effects on the world.
But with issues like global warming and excessive pollution, there must be more sweeping changes. We owe it to ourselves and the very planet we live on. We need to all go green together.
So with that out of the way, what steps can we take to become more eco-friendly? We’ll go over 5 of them in this step-by-step guide, all of which you can start using TODAY!
Let’s just jump right in!
How To Be More Eco-Friendly – 5 Easy Steps
1. Substitute Harmful Products with Eco-Friendly Ones
Many people have some ideas on what going eco-friendly means in terms of what they purchase as a consumer. The most common change people typically think of is using reusable bottles instead of plastic, disposable bottles.
Which is great, don’t get us wrong! But there are so, so many eco-friendly products out there that many don’t know about.
Some of these products include:
- Biodegradable trash bags.
- Biodegradable or reusable straws.
- Septic or sewer-friendly toilet paper.
- Biodegradable baby diapers.
- Cloth baby diapers.
- Biodegradable pet poop bags.
- Biodegradable balloons.
- Biodegradable cosmetics.
- Clothes made from recycled fabric.
- Reusable sandwich wraps.
- Compostable cutlery and tableware.
The list goes go on and on. There’s an eco-friendly alternative to so many products that it’ll make your head spin! We haven’t even touched on organic food and materials.
Best of all, more and more of them are coming out, giving plenty to look forward to as well.
And before anyone jumps down our throat, we know that eco-friendly goods are usually higher-priced than their traditional competitors.
That alone can be a deal-breaker, which we understand. Not everyone has the money, especially these days.
But if you can, we highly recommend that you make the switch. It can even be done in smaller increments as so to ease the impact on your wallet.
Thankfully, there’s a way to engage in eco-friendly behavior that actually helps your wallet out. This leads us to our second step…
2. Cut Down on Waste
Reduce, reuse, recycle! Do those 3 Rs sound familiar?
We call them the 3 Rs of waste management. And these small words can have a big impact on your environment.
It’s never a bad idea to cut back on waste. Our landfills are already stuffed to the brim with literal tons of trash. And trust us, you don’t want to expand on landfills.
They are like freezing chambers for trash. The garbage in landfills is not exposed to the proper conditions for eco-friendly biodegradation, which requires microorganisms and oxygen at the minimum.
Landfills keep oxygen out by design, which slows the degradation process considerably. Think hundreds or thousands of years.
Another unpleasant side-effect is that the bacteria that do manage to break anything down without oxygen will release methane gas, which is highly flammable, dangerous, and contributes to global warming.
The best way to combat this is to reduce your waste output. That’s where the 3 R’s come in.
We actually don’t need nearly as much as we think we do. For food waste alone, we toss anywhere from 30-40% of the TOTAL food supply in the USA according to the FDA.
Up to nearly half of all of the food we produce is thrown away. That’s crazy!
As for trash itself, Americans throw away up 728,000 TONS of trash away every single day. We can do better than that.
Instead, try pulling back on what you want and focus on what you absolutely need.
Remember that you can always go out and get more of something that you need. It’s far better than throwing away any excess.
We can also afford to use our stuff less. Here are a few ways you can reduce your use:
- Turn off the shower while washing. Not only will this save you money on your water bill, but you’ll also be practicing good conservation habits. Double win!
- Use low water settings on your washer and consider upgrading if it’s an older model. Newer models are outfitted to be more efficient with water, once again saving on your water bill while also using less over time.
- Switch out your old lightbulbs for Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Both are more energy-efficient and can save you money on your power bill.
- Eat less meat. According to a United Nations study: “the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2.”
- Turn off the energy-sucking appliances when not in use. In some instances, unplugging them might be for the best. Some appliances can be energy vampires and suck out power even when turned off.
Less is more!
People are quick to throw away things. In a culture that emphasizes replacing rather than fixing, this isn’t terribly surprising.
But you might be surprised by just how much you value you can get from stuff that might be worthless at first glance.
With a little creativity, you can reuse pretty much anything. Yes, that includes stuff that’s not considered eco-friendly.
Here are a few ideas for you:
- Reuse plastic bags for shopping trips, packing material, as a moisture trapper (for plants), and as a protector for mirrors/wipers during freezing weather.
- Reuse used tea bags for puffy eyes (chill bags in the fridge before use), as an aromatherapy addition to your bath, or for relieving itchiness from insect bites (also chill before use).
- Reuse egg cartons as a seedling starter, a palette for paints, or even just a general organizer for your smaller personal items.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can prolong so much stuff that would otherwise be thrown away without a second thought.
Give it a try today!
If you truly have no more use for your trash, then consider recycling them.
Now before you go ahead and throw any ol’ thing in there, you have to keep a few things in mind.
First, make sure that what you are tossing is actually recyclable.
For example, plastic grocery bags aren’t actually accepted as a recyclable material by the Waste Management Company, despite popular belief.
That doesn’t mean you are out of luck, though. For plastic bags, you can learn where to recycle them by visiting plasticfilmrecycling.org.
There are many places that will recycle things that you wouldn’t even think about. Did you know that you can recycle cigarette butts? Terracycle can make that happen!
However, make sure to follow the “rules” of recycling. Otherwise, the stuff you think you are recycling may still up in a landfill.
In general, you are going to want to:
- Remove non-recyclable materials like leftover food or drink
- Clean out the material. For bottles, make sure they are completely rinsed out with water and dried before recycling.
- Gather them up and toss them in the proper recycling bin. Do not put any non-recyclable material in the bin, as that can compromise the whole batch.
And if you want to try to earn a little cash, you can directly recycle water bottles and beverage cans at select locations. You won’t get rich doing it, but you can easily walk away with $15 – $30 with a few full bags.
Just make sure to recycle those bags too after you’re done!
3. Support Greener Ventures – Especially Online
Becoming more eco-friendly isn’t limited to just what you do personally. It’s also about what the people around you do.
You can inspire change in those around you just by living a greener lifestyle and showcasing all of its benefits. You’d be surprised by just how many people can rally behind a good cause (spoilers, the environment is one of them).
And let’s not forget social media. The power of social media has proven to be a driving force for change. Heck, that’s why sites like Change.org exists. When people work together, they can accomplish anything and change the world.
Research conducted by wearesocial.com illustrates this point:
“In our global research, we’ve seen the number of consumers who say they would pay more for eco-friendly/sustainable products grow from 49 per cent in 2011 to 57 per cent in 2019.“
“1 in 2 of those who say this sit within the Gen Z and Millennial generation groups, showing that it’s the younger consumers driving the sustainable movement with their lifestyle and behavioral changes.“Excerpt from their post
It’s clear that the younger generations are pushing for change. These changes will support a better planet, which is better for everyone who obviously lives on said planet.
You can even invest in companies that produce eco-friendly goods. This can be done by literally investing in the company (stocks) or by purchasing their products.
Shout outs and public praises will also greatly help.
On the other side, it’s important to condemn bad practices. Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies who conduct shady business practices and let them know your displeasure.
These companies can do a lot of harm to the environment when left unchecked and ignored. Publicly blasting them on social media will often force them to adopt new, better policies quickly.
And for you eco-warriors who love to travel, we understand that it can be hard to plan an eco-friendly vacation. Some places are harder to go green than others, and it can be a pain to try a unique, beautiful place that supports the environment.
That’s why we recommend learning how to find and book green vacation rentals. When you have the right resources, you can find exotic, gorgeous, and fun-filled destinations without worrying about harming the environment. In fact, these rental companies do their part in contributing to a greener world, which we can definitely get behind.
4. Kick Emissions to the Curb
Emissions (greenhouse gasses like methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrofluorocarbons) are the biggest contributors to global warming and climate change.
And global warming can be a huge problem. The longer we ignore it and stay the course, the worse it’s going to get.
Here are some fun (not really) things you could expect in the future:
- Deadly heatwaves.
- Limited water availability in some areas.
- Extreme water flooding in some areas.
- Animal and plant-life deaths.
- Increased deforestation and wildfires.
- Rising sea levels (can wash inhabited land away).
- Decreased marine life due to lower ocean oxygen levels.
- Food shortages.
- Declining economy (GPD could lower 2.3% with each Celsius degree).
- Worse health & activity due to higher ambient temperatures (humans reportedly function best at 22 degrees Celsius or 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
By producing less of these gasses, we can lessen the impact of global warming. And hopefully, we can one day start reversing it.
So how can we cut down on emissions?
For starters, consider using your car less and trying to carpool more. 28% of emissions produced are caused by transportation.
Now, this includes ships/boats, airplanes, trains, and motor vehicles. But don’t think that means your car is off the hook.
Cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles account for 82% of the emissions produced by the transportation category.
Basically, that means that motor vehicles account for 22.96% of the total emissions produced in the world (forgive us for the excessive math). That’s a strikingly high concentration of emissions! You can check out the numbers for yourself here.
Cut out emission production by utilizing other forms of transportation. Here are a few suggestions:
- Biking/Rollerblading/Skateboarding. Great for short-distance travel and keeps you healthy.
- Walking/Running. Great for short-distance travel and (still) keeps you healthy.
- Taking the bus. A bus seating 50 passengers can take 30 to 40 cars off the streets on average.
And when you do get in the car, you can reduce your carbon footprint by:
- Driving efficiently. Steady gas and brake usage can reduce car emissions.
- Servicing your car regularly. This can also help reduce emissions.
- Using air conditioning less. Air conditioning produces more emissions.
- Driving in the city less. The constant stop-and-go of city driving produces more emissions.
- Use cruise control. When it comes to long drives, this can help you save gas too.
- Check your tires. Properly inflated tires means less gas used over longer distances, which reduce emissions.
By making just a few changes, you can really cut down on producing emissions.
And as a nice side effect, you get can enjoy some benefits by doing so. Some benefits include saving money, having fewer car accidents, getting cheaper auto insurance (since you aren’t driving as much), getting auto insurance bonuses from carpooling, and much more.
5. Get Creative
Seriously, the sky is the limit!
Instead of throwing something away, consider donating it instead. There are hundreds of programs that will take your unwanted belongings and find them a new home.
At the very least, try donating to your local Goodwill.
And don’t underestimate the power of cloth! Cloth products last much longer than plastic ones and are reusable.
Just be wary of using too much water to wash them, as that can narrow the eco-friendly gap more than you think.
If you like to garden, starting a compost pile or bin is a great way to provide resources to your plants. Things that would normally be thrown away can instead be used as fertilizer for a lively garden.
And if you have no use for the compost, you can donate it to a local farmer as well.
You can also borrow instead of buy. Renting items of interest helps keep them out of landfills while still serving your needs.
Embracing used items also has the same benefit, often at a lower cost while being nearly as good as a brand new version.
Transform your trash into a work of art. There are many tutorials on how to do so online, and they aren’t difficult to do.
Finally, always try to recycle before throwing away. Not only paper and plastic but also odd things like contact lenses, tennis balls, Brita filters, and more.
Oh, and make sure that you get your family and friends in on it too. Kids especially will love the care and effort you put into making eco-friendly actions fun!
And that is the end of our easy 5 step guide. We hope that you enjoyed it and found it useful. We had a ton of fun making it!
Have any questions, comments, concerns, or just wanna chat? Then leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you ASAP. We’d love to hear from you.
As always, let’s continue to strive towards a greener, better way of living.
Until next time!