While climate change may be a hotly debated issue in our government, we can take it upon ourselves to help preserve the planet by making simple, environmentally friendly changes in our homes and communities. Here are some actions you and your family can take to slow the course of climate change.
Begin by making your home more energy-efficient. The good news is that this can save you money, and that’s an idea you can share with your neighbors, too! There are a number of things we can change in our homes to accomplish that.
Begin by making sure you have proper insulation and air flow. Green Home Guide recommends ensuring that your walls and attics have effective insulation that slows heat flow out of the home in the winter and blocks it from coming inside in the summer. If your windows are old, they might not seal properly, and that can leave gaps that let in air. You can replace these with energy-efficient models or take steps to update them so they seal properly.
Next, take stock of sinks and appliances. Install low-flow sinks, showers, and toilets to save water. You can also put a timer in your shower to keep your family from using up too much water while showering. Try to avoid taking baths, which waste much more water than showers.
Buy all energy- and water-efficient appliances. To determine which energy-efficient appliances are best, check out Energy Star’s post on the most efficient appliances.
You should also switch to CFL or LED lights and light bulbs. Traditional incandescent light bulbs use about three times more energy than a CFL bulb, and LED bulbs can have five times the lifespan of incandescent bulbs. Even though they are more expensive, you’ll compensate with energy savings.
Efficiency Outside Your Home
Use gardening and landscaping as a way to green your home. We don’t often think of our gardens in this way, but strategic planting can provide shade, both indoors and out, and protection for our bee populations.
If you have a garden, consider composting. This is a great way to help the environment and creates nutrient-rich soil for your plants. Learn more about the process at Rodale’s Organic Life.
Consider installing solar panels. Solar energy is cost-effective and can even increase the value of your home. Today, there are lots of options for financing this upgrade. Use a solar water heater to help save on your monthly heating bills. The investment will pay off in the long run with energy savings. You can either install an active system to completely replace your current water heater or a passive system, which requires you to keep it as a backup.
Greening Everyday Tasks
You can make small changes in your regular routines, too. Give your kids waste-free lunches. Exchange paper lunch bags and products for lunch sacks, canvas napkins, and a bottle to make your child’s lunch waste-free. Many companies make environmentally friendly, plastic-free versions of these products.
Eliminate plastic bags and paper towels. While we can’t eliminate every product in our homes, we can start with the basics. Find a good reusable cloth for the kitchen rather than paper towels. Do your shopping with reusable grocery bags.
Changes in Your Community
Changes begin in your home, but you can also spread these ideas to your community. In addition to encouraging friends and neighbors on how to save money with environmentally friendly home updates, you can also effect change on a larger scale.
- Support local conservation efforts with donations and volunteering. For example, local farms may have workdays where you can help out. You can also shop at organic and sustainable farms and farmers markets.
- Find like-minded friends and neighbors and organize community cleanups. You can also participate in or organize an e-cycling event in your neighborhood. This allows you to collect unused technology, such as discarded computers and smartphones, and donate them to schools and other places. The EPA has a list of places to donate them. This can even turn into a fun, community-building event!
- Support businesses that embrace or are certified in green and sustainable practices.
- If possible, bike ride, carpool, or take public transportation rather than driving. Consider buying a more fuel-efficient car or hybrid the next time you shop for a car.
- Vote for local candidates who support environmentally friendly policies, just as you would on a national level, such as school boards.
- Encourage your child’s school to become more environmentally friendly. This can take many forms, such as making a presentation to the school on reducing waste, encouraging them to create gardens as a teaching tool, or implementing more recycling ideas. This will require involvement and works best if a group of parents supports these initiatives.
Our communities work best when we all pitch in. Do a little more in your home each week to save energy, and consider getting involved to make changes in your community. Every action you take has a positive impact on the planet