Friday, 16 September 2011

28 Ways to Build a Green Lifestyle

The idea of a green lifestyle is easily attainable. It is not about changing your lifestyle completely; even small changes to your behaviour add up! Developing a new habit and sticking to it can be difficult - people often have set routines that they are comfortable with - but it takes perseverance and effort, and time! It is estimated that it takes between 21 and 28 days to create a new habit (depending on what the habit is), with a recent study suggesting it can even take up to 66 days! 
Here are 28 ways to help build a green lifestyle and a green planet!
Tip #1: Invest in energy efficient light bulbs and appliances
Remember to look for the EnerGuide tag when purchasing new appliances. Refitting your home with energy saving light bulbs labelled ENERGY STAR® not only helps the environment, but helps you save money on your electricity bill as well! Compact fluorescent light bulbs with the ENERGY STAR® label use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and halogen lighting has similar light output to a regular incandescent bulb but uses up to 40% less energy.  

Tip #2: Go paperless
Many companies, such as credit cards, cell phones and utilities, offer e-billing options so sign up for it. Receiving your account information online is fast, easy and convenient.

Tip #3: Recycle
Return your old bottles, cans and juice containers to recycling depots. Most cities even have recycling programs for old newspapers, magazines, paper and cardboards such as Vancouver’s blue box program. If don’t already have a recycling box, check to see if your city offers a recycling program and get started.
Tip #4: Bike or walk to your destination whenever possible
Instead of using your car, why not save your gas money and get a little exercise at the same time! You might find it very relaxing to take a leisurely walk on a nice, sunny day.

Tip #5: Carpool

If you do need to drive, organize a carpool or take public transit to limit the number of cars on the road. A smaller number of cars on the road means less carbon emissions.
Tip #6: Conserve water
Turn off the tap and shower when not in use, limit the number of baths you take and only run a washing machine / dishware with a full load. You can even install a low-flow shower head and save as much as 60% of the water used by a conventional fixture. Dripping taps should be replaced because they can waste 9000 litres of hot water each year!

Tip #7: Invest in a high-efficiency water heater
Water heaters use up a lot of energy and switching to a high-efficiency one could lead to savings of up to $100 each year on your energy bill.

Tip #8: Turn down the heat when you are not home
Why keep the heat running if no one is home? It is another great way to save money on your energy bill. If you are someone who is in a rush in the mornings and tend to forget, try installing a programmable thermostat instead. You save 2% on your heating bill for every 1⁰C that the thermostat is lowered.

Tip #9: Unplug chargers after use
A charger will still draw power even if nothing is connect to it; so try not to just leave it plugged in!

Tip #10: Compost
Limit the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill by composting. The compost will also make great fertilizer to use in your garden.

Tip #11: Grow your own produce
If you have the space in your yard, why not grow some of your own produce? Some vegetables, such as radishes, carrots, and beans, are easy to plant and require very little maintenance to grow. If you also followed tip #10, then you should have some great fertilizer as well.

Tip #12: Shop at an organic store

Specialty shops that sell organic products are popping up everywhere. For example, here in Vancouver, the majority of products sold at Choices Market are organic. Even the major grocery stores carry a selection of organic products so be sure to check it out.

Tip #13: Fully shut down computers after use
Instead of putting the computer simply in a power saver mode, shut it down completely! You may be concerned that this will wear out the hardware faster, but those are outdated thoughts. In the last decade, computer hardware has evolved and will not be adversely affected by turning the machine on and off.

Tip #14: Properly dispose of old electronics

Do not just throw out old computers, TVs and cell phones. There are a many places you can take your old electronics for proper disposal and recycling. Some companies even offer you a credit or rebate for returning old products so take advantage of it. For example, Apple offers customers gift cards for returning old iPhones, iPads, Macs or PCs. Apple will take care of the shipping costs if you mail it back to them or you can drop it off at any apple store.               

Tip #15: Turn off the lights
Turn off all the lights in your home or office when you leave each day. You can also use a timer when you want the lights to turn on during a certain time while you are away for an extended period.

Tip #16: Purchase coffee made from sustainably grown coffee beans
Coffee is just behind oil and is the second most traded commodity in the world. Coffee beans are generally farmed in areas that are considered high priority for conservation. You can help maintain these forests and the wildlife habitat they provide by purchasing coffee that is Rainforest Alliance Certified. Approximately 1.3% of the world’s coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Tip #17: Use LED Christmas lights
Everyone loves to decorate their homes during Christmas time. LEDs have a longer lifespan and use a tenth less energy than traditional incandescent lights. It is now easier to fill your home with Christmas lights without spending a fortune on your energy bill.

Tip #18: Make sure your home is properly insulated
Heating costs take up a large chunk of your home’s energy bill. Ensure that your home is not unnecessarily losing heat through improper insulation. You can even improve your home’s air tightness by installing caulking or weatherstripping. Double glazed windows are also worthy of investment.

Tip #19: Use reusable bags instead of plastic

Most stores no longer have plastic bags or charge a fee if you require one. Reusable bags are durable and make much more sense to use. If you do not already have one, there are many stores that give them away for free or are available for purchase for a small fee.

Tip #20: Try to avoid purchasing bottled water
Plastic water bottles are a major source of waste in landfills. There are approximately 40 million plastic water bottles disposed daily worldwide. Use a water filter in your home instead and use a stainless steel water bottle (which won’t leak any chemicals) when on the go.

Tip #21: Practice Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)
People are not the only ones going green; companies are as well. Spend your dollars at companies that have corporate social responsibility programs related to the environment and avoid dealing with companies that cause the environment more harm.

Tip #22: Dry clothes naturally
The dryer uses a lot of energy so it would be a good idea to avoid using it whenever possible. You can hang clothes outside to dry on sunny day or even just hang it to air dry in your home.

Tip #23: Plant a deciduous tree on the sunny side of your home
The tree will provide shade from the sun during the summer to help keep your home cool and reduce energy spent on air conditioning.  During the winter, when the tree’s leaves have fallen off, it will allow the sunlight to shine back into your home and help heat it.

Tip #24: Check your tires regularly
If your tires are over or under-inflated, your car will have to work harder and thus will use more fuel. You can reduce fuel consumption and costs by simply checking the tire pressure regularly! Properly maintaining your vehicle will also reduce fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions.

Tip #25: Fly less
Today’s technology makes it possible stay connected easier than ever before. Reduce the amount of trips that you take by leveraging video conferencing technology whenever possible.

Tip #26: Avoid the drive thru
Gas is being wasted anytime your car is idling. It also wears out your vehicle faster. More gas is used up sitting idle for 10 seconds than it is to start up the car.

Tip #27: Wash laundry in cold water
Most of the energy used to run a washing machine goes into heating the water. It is now even easier to wash using cold water with the new detergents available in the market.

Tip #28: Donate or give away old items
Do not throw away old clothes or items in your home you no longer use; give it away for someone else to use or donate it to a charity.

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