Practicing sustainable living in our personal lives comes down to developing the good habits most of us already know. Here are a few reminders as well as some new ideas about recycling:
Around the Home
The call to reduce, reuse, recycle has long been a key motto for sustainable living. Few would see any problem in urging the first 2 actions. Using fewer resources and reusing those we have are valuable steps all of us can take. A new look at recycling recently appeared in the New York Times, from which I found 2 significant take-aways. Reducing and reusing make far more contributions to sustaining earth’s resources than recycling. The greatest benefit comes from recycling paper, cardboard and aluminum cans.
Any new appliance should be purchased only if it bears the Energy Star label. Besides the obvious saving on your utility bill, good energy saving ideas are available to consumers on the Energy Star website.
Run water as needed but only when actually using it. Tooth brushing, shaving, dish washing, etc. can all be done with the water off except when it’s needed.
If you want to be especially conscientious showering and hand washing can be done the same way. Wet your hands or yourself but shut the water off before thoroughly soaping. Only then turn the water back on and rinse.
Avoid lawn watering completely by replacing the monotony of turf grass with native plants. Most are deep-rooted and drought tolerant, and a variety of plantings once established will flower beautifully from spring to fall, even during lengthy rain-free periods. They provide the added benefit of attracting our needed pollinators.
Every day over 100 million plastic water bottles are used worldwide, most of which end up in landfills or the ocean where close to 8,000,000 wreak endless environmental havoc. Carrying your own reusable bottle of tap water is at least as safe (other than in many developing countries).
According to the Economist over a trillion plastic bags are used annually. Bring your own reusable or mesh bag(s) to the store. And when a clerk automatically puts your purchase of a few items into a plastic bag, tell him/her “no bag please”.
You can also bring a reusable container to a restaurant for any take home food.
If at all possible avoid plastic wrapping. Many fruits and vegetables are available without plastic or bring your own “net” bags to take them home.
LED bulbs have greatly declined in price, use minimal electricity and can last decades. Use LED’s when a bulb needs replacing.
Earth’s resources are limited. We can all do more so future generations can share its bounty.