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The environment is a hot topic these days, and you may have recently found yourself extra committed to reducing your carbon footprint. But with all the fake news flying around—not to mention the lack of funds to upgrade to an electric car, buy all new Energy Star appliances or install expensive solar panels—it can be overwhelming to try to take the first step toward being more eco-friendly.
But the truth is, we can’t wait any longer to make a change. Studies show that the world’s population would need 1.7 Earths to support the amount of resources we use each year. And if we continue on this path, by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us.
Scary stuff, but want to know the good news? We still have time to fix it. All it takes is a collective effort to change little things here and there in our daily lives. We all know the easy ones: Unplug unused electronics, only run full loads of laundry and dishes, and always (always!) recycle. But there are some other not-so-obvious, just-as-easy ways to make your home a little greener. Check them out below.
About 48 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. home comes from heating and cooling. Not only does this unnecessarily waste a ton of energy, it also costs you big bucks on your electric bill each month. So next time you feel a little chilly, grab a comfy knit blanket instead of cranking up the heat. Spending a little on a great throw now could end up saving you around 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills.
Switching your regular fluorescent bulbs for LEDs is one of the simplest, most impactful changes you can make. LEDs are far more energy-efficient, using a whopping 80 percent less energy on average than their traditional counterpart. They also can last for more than 100,000 hours, which is literally twice that of typical fluorescent bulbs and 20 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Don't forget to dispose of LEDs safely at a recycling center near you (find one here).
Not-so-fun fact of the day: Humans cut down more than 15 billion trees per year, and a good percentage are used to make things like wood furniture for your home. Before you condemn Pottery Barn for all of eternity, let us provide you with an eco-friendly and adorable furniture alternative. Are you ready? Bamboo. Okay, not earth-shattering, we know, but this is a great substitute for other types of non-sustainable wood, like oak or maple. Bamboo grows around three feet a day, compared to the 40 years it takes a hardwood like oak to mature. And if its amazingly sustainable growth rate wasn’t enough to convince you, Bamboo also produces 35 percent more oxygen into the atmosphere than its traditional hardwood counterparts. Talk about a super-plant.
We're sure most of you already follow this tip. And honestly, with so many fun styles and patterns on the market these days, there is literally no excuse for you to still be using plastic bottles. Besides looking cute, reusable bottles make a huge difference in how much trash you produce. Using reusable bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles helps to reduce the nearly four pounds of plastic waste that each person produces per day (per day!). If you haven't jumped on this green-colored bandwagon yet, we recommend you do so.
But not exactly the way you think! Just like plastic water bottles, paper towels and napkins make up a huge chunk of our daily trash production. In fact, more than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are tossed each year in the United States. That's more than 3,000 tons of paper towel waste in the U.S. alone. But fear not: It's incredibly easy and inexpensive to switch to washable fabric napkins and towels.