There’s no denying we live on a planet with limited resources. Our consumer-driven societies have started to take their toll on the environment and ecosystems, some of which are now on the brink of collapse. Governments are trying to work together to make major gains, but real progress requires effort from everyone.
Instead of talking about how change needs to happen, make 2017 the year you begin making new habits that reduce your environmental footprint at home.
Small Steps, Big Reductions
Too many people are hesitant to make changes because they think it will cause a lot of upheaval and take loads of effort. In actuality there are many ways people can live a greener lifestyle without turning life upside down. The trick is to focus on just one or two things at a time.
Get on an Environmentally Friendly Energy Plan
In deregulated energy areas, where you live can impact your wallet and eco footprint. For example, the Direct Energy Calgary market may have rates as low as seven cents per kWh, but it could be a few cents higher on average in Alberta as a whole. Some cities also offer green electric plans that are powered by renewable energy sources.
To make sure you’re being conservative, review your energy plans and consumption at least once a year. Look for the areas that need the most improvement, appliances that are using a lot of electricity and how rates compare for green electric plans.
Reduce Energy Consumption
Just one or two changes over the year can add up in terms of reduced energy use. Some changes, like CFL blubs and solar powered chargers, can make a significant impact right from the start. Find one thing you can work on doing, then keep doing it until it becomes a habit.
Living With Less
If the programming on HGTV is any indication, more people are adopting the minimalist lifestyle. Instead of living in a large home and accumulating a lot of stuff, minimalists are opting for smaller homes with fewer things to manage. Challenge yourself to go one month without making a single discretionary purchase. Go a step further by clearing out unused items that are cluttering up your house.
Reduce Food Waste
A third of the world’s food is wasted every year. Considering the amount of hunger there is in the world and how much energy is spent to produce food, downsizing your grocery list is a big step forward. Be more mindful of proper portions. Overstuffed plates are one of the top causes of food waste. If you still want to cook in bulk to save time and energy, invest in good storage containers that can be labeled. If people know what it is and how to reheat it they’re more inclined to eat the leftovers.
Grow a Garden
An even better way to reduce the carbon footprint of your food consumption is to grow a garden. Growing fruits and vegetables at home is one of the most eco-friendly things you can do. Once you have your garden set up most of the work is done. If you grow plants that are compatible with your hardiness zone it should take little more than proper timing and adequate watering to grow fruits and vegetables.
Composting to Fill Gardens Not Landfills
Much of the food waste in landfills could be put to better use as compost. Leftovers, coffee grounds, peelings and paper towels – these are just some of the things that can go in a composter rather than the trash can.
Even if you aren’t an avid gardener there are still ways you can make use of your compost. Community gardens are always looking for donations, including rich compost. Some cities also have compost collection programs that allow you to drop off composting material.
Larger Investments for Bigger Reductions
If you’re willing to go the extra mile and invest a little more you can take even larger steps towards energy reduction.
- Solar panel installation – Solar innovation is astounding these days. Panels are more powerful and yet cheaper than ever.
- New HVAC system – The biggest energy drain in many homes is the HVAC system. If the system is more than a decade old, oversized or needs repair installing a new one could lower your eco footprint over the long term.
- Solar water heater – Another way to use renewable solar energy is with the water heater. On average the water heater accounts for 17% of a residential energy bill. A solar water heater is going to be the most energy efficient option.
- Electric vehicle (UV) – Transportation is one of the largest carbon footprint contributors. The more miles you get per gallon, or better yet the more miles you get with electricity, the smaller your footprint will be. If your electricity is provided by renewable resources your commutes are super clean.
These are just a few ideas that anyone can implement right away to start making an immediate difference. This year make it a resolution to do your part in the effort to green up the planet.