It is more important than ever before to do what we can to protect the planet. Humans use up more resources in a year than the earth can regenerate in the same amount of time, according to the Global Footprint Network. By their calculations, it takes the planet nearly 18 months to renew the natural resources people consume in just a 12-month period. As a species, everyone needs to do his or her part to lessen the impact on the planet, so below are seven easy ways to improve your environmental footprint.
Go Reusable Whenever You Can
Americans throw away an astronomical number of cups each year – nearly 200 billion, to be exact. Of that number, 3 billion are coffee cups. Rather than contribute to the problem with your daily cup of Joe, consider investing in some fun reusable coffee cups instead. You might even save some serious cash because some coffee shops give discounts for going green.
Adjust Your Thermostat
You can save money and the planet, too, by turning your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. During cold months, keep your heat set at 68 degrees when you’re home, and dial it down 10 to 15 degrees during the nighttime hours when you’re sleeping or out. In the summer, a cool 78-degree setting can save you 15 percent or more.
Save Water with Every Flush
If you don’t already have a low-flow toilet, you can reduce the amount of water your toilet uses for flushing by putting a two-liter bottle in the tank. Simply add some sand or gravel to the bottle, screw the lid tight, and place it inside the tank clear of any working mechanisms.
Eliminate Standby Power
Electronics and appliances that are plugged in use energy even when they are turned off. This standby energy accounts for up to 10 percent of household energy use each year. Save yourself an easy $100 a year by unplugging things you aren’t using, or buy power strips that have on/off switches to make it easy to cut power consumption.
Pay Your Bills Online
Have you ever considered the amount of mail you get and how much of it you actually care about? Junk mail is wasteful, but you can do something to reduce it by opting to go paperless. Pay as many bills online as you can, and take a minute to sign up for the National Do Not Mail List to ensure you only get the mail you so desperately need.
Consider a “Stay-cation” Instead of a Vacation
Flying from the US to Europe and back again increases your carbon footprint by about 4 tons. You can reduce this impact by opting instead to vacation closer to home. Not only will you be doing the planet a favor, but you’ll also save a ton of money and be able to understand the language, too.
Choose Alternative Forms of Transportation
In theory, driving less is an easy way to save money and improve your environmental footprint. In reality, however, it’s much easier said than done, especially if you live in a rural or suburban area. Wherever you live, though, try recruiting your neighbors to form a carpool for work or school. Alternately, you can use public transportation if you live in the city, or ride a bike or walk when the weather is nice.
Although the planet does its best to renew our natural resources, it has trouble keeping up with us. We all need to do our part to help it along if it’s to survive for many future generations. Use the above seven easy ways to improve your environmental footprint and help save the planet.