Sure, it’d be great to buy a hybrid vehicle, start a vegetable garden or invest in greener kitchen appliances — but many of us just don’t have the time or money for such activities. But there are easier, simpler and quicker ways to make a significant impact on the environment that you can implement every day. Here are ten simple ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint:
1. Turn your lights off when you leave a room. Okay, we’ve all heard this one before. But when you think about how easy it is, you’ll wonder why you haven’t taken the time to do it before. Lighting is responsible for about 11% of a home’s energy bills, so you can save a big chunk of change by flipping the switch.
2. Invest in reusable grocery bags. It’s inevitable — you need them, so you might as well get some that will last, right? A single reusable grocery bag has a life span of more than 700 disposable plastic bags; no wonder cities have started to ban those flimsy plastic sacks! So go ahead, get the one you’ve had your eye on by the cash register and leave it in your car so you don’t forget it next time you shop.
3. Unplug when you can. Leaving your fully charged device plugged in still uses up energy, even when your phone or laptop doesn’t need the juice. This “vampire power” actually drains up to $19 billion in energy every year in the United States, so unplugging when you’re done charging can actually go a long way.
4. Set that washing machine to cold. There are a lot of ways to be smart about how you wash your clothes — one of them being using cold water instead of hot. Not only does it eliminate 90% of a typical washing machine’s electricity usage, your colors will bleed and (hopefully) shrink less! And for an even bigger impact, try only washing full loads or reducing your water levels with smaller loads.
5. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. Just this simple act can save 8 gallons a day per person. Yes, you read that correctly. Men, consider turning the water off while you shave, as well. So simple, yet so impactful.
6. Switch to paperless billing. Let’s be honest, paying bills by snail mail is so old school. Most cable, water and gas providers nowadays offer the option to opt in for paperless, with some companies even offering discounts and automatic payment options. Not only does this save about $2 per bill you pay online, you also can avoid late payments and paying any overdraft fees.
7. Bring your own mug. Did you know that Starbucks discounts your coffee purchase by 10 cents a cup if you bring your own mug? If you have a daily coffee habit, that can lead to a savings of $36.50 a year. Of course, if you make your own coffee at home, you can save even more, to the tune of $358 a year or $14,000 over the course of your career. (Wow.)
8. Cut the junk mail. Junk mail is not just an annoyance; it’s also extremely wasteful. If you are sick of all of the junk mail you receive, register with the Direct Marketing Association’s DMAchoice service. It takes just a second to register, and you will see a significant reduction in your junk mail after about three months or so. Every country is different though, so research your local post office and see what their policy is.
9. Flex your flex benefits. Twenty-eight percent of the average American’s carbon footprint is due to transportation, so if your company allows “working from home,” take advantage of it! Working from home just two days a week saves 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year, so take advantage of those benefits while you have them. Check out this infographic to see how big of an impact telecommuting can have on a company.
10. Replace one business trip with a video call. Just one round-trip flight from New York to London and back produces 1.34 metric tons of CO2 per passenger. Consider replacing just one of your business trips with a video call instead of an on-site, in-person meeting. Don’t have a video conferencing solution to use? Grab a buddy and download a free 14-day trial of the Lifesize app and do your next meeting via video.
These are just 10 simple tips to make your life greener, but we know there are many, many more out there. If you have your own tip, share them with us on any of our social media platforms. And if you’re interested in learning more about reducing your carbon footprint, check out the Lifesize Earth Day Infographic.