Happy Earth Day!
Many may think that living an eco-friendly lifestyle is inconvenient and expensive. However, you can play a part in saving the environment and your money by just changing your daily habits! In honor of Earth Day, QRI would like to encourage you participate in conserving the Earth by simply modifying your everyday routines. You can help save wildlife, marine life, energy, as well as renewable and non-renewable natural resources.
One of the most wasted resources humans use is water. An average family of four in America uses about 400 gallons of water every day. Simple changes such as turning off the facet as you are brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, and limiting your water usage as you wash dishes can make a significant difference in lowering the consumption of water.
Another way to save water is to limit the number of plastic bottles and “disposable” cups we use. Americans use 3.3 million plastic bottles every hour but only one in five get recycled. Plastic that do not get recycled can potentially make their way into oceans and other waterways where fish can either get stuck or mistake it for food. If these bad habits continue, we may have more plastic in the water than we do fish. You can help avoid this by investing in a reusable bottle or container and refilling it with water. For those skeptical about tap water, many “purified water” brands such as Dasani, Aquafina, VOSS, SmartWater, Starbucks’s Ethos, and Walmart’s Great Value purified water have a pH that is less alkaline than water from the sink. Alkaline water is a powerful antioxidant that can help detox the body, boost the immune system, and balance the body’s pH levels, which is usually acidic because of our diet. If the tap water in your region does not taste good, you can invest in a water filter for your sink and save money by not having to buy a new water bottle at every lunchtime stop. While at work, the average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups per year. Many coffee shops, even Starbucks, offer a discount to customers who reuse containers for their drinks. By choosing to refill your water bottles or other containers, you can help save the environment, money, and your health. That’s three birds with one stone!
You can contribute to the environment when you’re out and about. If you’re picking up takeout for home, there’s no need for plastic utensils. You can be more eco-friendly by simply asking the restaurant not to include napkins, plastic utensils, or condiments with your order. When grocery shopping, it might be more convenient to grab a plastic bag at the cash register, but the habit is very wasteful. A greener (and trendier) way to go shopping is to always bring reusable fabric bags with you. If you forget your bags at home, it never hurts to buy a new one. There are even some stores (such as Target, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s) that offer discounts for using reusable bags! Avoid buying products that are individually wrapped, instead buy in bulk. Just be sure to store food products properly so they don’t go bad before you can use them. Food companies generally use just as much energy creating the packaging for food products as they do producing the actual food! Buying food locally not only requires less packaging but also supplies the freshest produce. Local shopping can also help reduce the pollutant impact that it takes to frequently transport the produce to its destination. Wasted food usually end up in landfills and eventually turns into a harmful gas called methane. It also wastes the water and energy that went into producing the food. An efficient way to avoid wasting food is to plan out your meals every week and keep track of how much you throw away to help you on your next shopping trip. Many may be quick to throw away a loaf of bread or a block of cheese that has started growing mold, however it is still safe to eat after cutting off the areas that has mold. It is also important to understand what expiration dates on food products actually mean to avoid throwing away a perfectly good carton of eggs. Expiration dates indicates the product’s quality, not safety. “Sell-by” refers to the deadline for the retailers to sell the product and “use-by” refers to the date when the product starts to lose its quality and flavor. Keeping these tips in mind on your next shopping trip will help the environment AND your budget!
You can even save resources at home. We have all been guilty of loading our washing machines half full. Standard washing machines use 40 gallons of water per load. If American households keep in mind how much water they use while doing laundry, each year they would save enough water to fill more than 7 million swimming pools. You can also avoid overusing tumble dryers to save energy. Tumble dryers are one of the biggest energy users in most households, after the refrigerator and air conditioner. The average American household can save up to $135 a year in energy costs by drying clothes on a clothesline. It’s more cost efficient as well as energy efficient. You can also save energy around the house by turning off lights, televisions, and other appliances and unplugging electrical equipment that aren’t being used during the day or while you sleep. Conserving water and energy at home means smaller bills every month and a greener Earth. It’s a win-win!