Have you ever said “I just don’t have time to be green?” I’m often tempted to use busyness as an excuse to assuage my environmental guilt — but the truth is that plenty of green habits take almost no time at all. All you need to do is make some tiny changes to the way you go about your typical day. Even better, the six habits I’ve picked here all have bonuses for you — beyond feeling good about being eco-friendly!
1. Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs) is one of the simplest ways to do the environment a favor — all it takes is popping a different brand of bulb into your shopping cart. You’ll actually save time by doing this, as your light bulbs won’t need replacing so often.
Bonus to you: Although CFLs are more expensive than standard bulbs, they last ten times longer than standard bulbs. They also use 75% less energy, saving you money on your electric bill. (You can see a breakdown of potential figures on the Get Rich Slowly post, How Much Do Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Really Cost?)
2. Switching Off
It takes less than a second to switch off a light, a television, or a computer monitor. You just need to get into the habit:
- Switch off lights when you leave a room
- Shut down computers rather than leaving them on standby — especially overnight
- Turn off television sets rather than using the standby button on the remote
If you struggle to remember, try going around your house just before bed and switching off all unnecessary equipment. (You might like to read Switch Off These 8 Commonly Left-On Appliances on Planet Green.)
Bonus to you: Leaving computers, television sets and other appliances on when they’re not in use wastes electricity — even if they’re on standby. Switching them off will make a real difference to your electric bill.
3. Filling the Kettle
Do you boil a kettle on the stove, instead of using an electric kettle? If so, you’re losing a lot of energy. And if you use an electric kettle — like most Brits and Canadians — do you always fill it all the way up, even when you just need enough water for a single mug? Get into the habit of only filling the kettle to its minimum point (usually two cups). If you do end up with excess hot water, tip it into the washing up bowl and use it to do the dishes. Like the other tips here, this one really is just a matter of habit. You could also consider getting an eco kettle.
Bonus to you: We’re all familiar with the phrase “a watched kettle never boils.” That’s doubly true when it’s over-full! You’ll get that cuppa faster if you only boil the water that you need.
Do you end up throwing vegetable peelings and scraps straight into the bin, because it’s too much effort go out into the yard to your compost heap? Keep a pot or tub designated for “peelings” by the sink, and just empty it onto your compost heap once it gets full. It doesn’t take any longer to chuck the peelings in there instead of the bin.
Bonus to you: After a few months, you’ll have some great, free compost to dig into your garden. Perfect for growing your own super-local veggies!
I know that recycling really does make a difference … but I’ve thrown recyclable materials in the trash just because it was quicker, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Now, I keep two big bags handy – one for cardboard and paper, one for plastics, tins and glass. When they’re full, I take them down to the recycling boxes in the lobby of our block of flats. Once you’ve got into the habit of sorting things as you use them, it’s much easier to recycle. Train the rest of your family to do the same.
Bonus to you: You won’t have to empty the bin so often! Recyclables won’t get smelly (unlike kitchen waste), so it doesn’t matter if you only take them to the nearest recycling units once every few weeks.
6. Re-Useable Shopping Bags
Get a couple of big canvas bags to take shopping, instead of taking a bag from the checkout. Just going for paper over plastic (if it’s an option — it isn’t here in the UK) won’t necessarily help the environment as much as you think: paper bags use 14 million trees a year. Whenever you go out to the store, take your bag with you.
Bonus to you: Canvas bags won’t cut into your hands like the plastic ones handed out by shops do — and they’re sturdy enough to hold a few bottles of wine without breaking! Plus, you can choose more fashionable bags than the ones emblazoned with store logos…
Are you going to make a start on building any of the above green habits?
What other green tips do you have that take almost no time at all?
Image by zoutedrop.