Summer is heating up, and depending on where you live, that means cranking up the AC — and dealing with the bill that comes with it.
But if you’re feeling a little down about the rise in your energy consumption, here are a few eco-friendly tips to minimize your carbon footprint. As a bonus, they’re as good for your wallet as they are for the world!
1. Eat Less Meat and Shop for Produce Locally
Between the methane they produce (boy, do they!), the deforestation it takes to make room for livestock, and emissions created by feed production and processing, our consumption of animal products is a considerable contributor to greenhouse gases. Cattle are the biggest offenders — responsible for upward of 65% of livestock emissions. So while we’re not going to ask you to give up burgers and fries forever, maybe throw in a meatless Monday once in a while. And since meat is often the most expensive component of a meal, swapping steak for plant-based protein is easier on your wallet, too.
To take this one step further, try buying in-season produce directly from
the farmer at farmers markets or through community supported agriculture
(CSA) whenever possible. Eating out-of-season fruits and veggies means they
have to be shipped from where they’re grown to where you buy them, and
those transportation emissions add up. Plus, when you buy locally, your
money stays in your community and supports your local farmers.
2. Cook More Meals at Home
Cooking at home means you’re not driving to and from a restaurant (win), you’re not wasting food (win-win), and you’re eating more healthfully and spending less money (win-win-win-win)! All of those things combined make a small but meaningful impact on the planet, your health and your budget.
Of course, cooking at home creates dishes. But did you know that using your
dishwasher is more environmentally friendly than washing by hand?
Hand-washing dishes uses about 2 gallons of water every minute, compared to
only 4 to 6 gallons per dishwasher cycle. And if you use Cascade Platinum ActionPacs, you can skip the prewash and know your dishes will still come out
sparking clean. In fact, if everyone who used a dishwasher stopped
prewashing their dishes, we’d be able to save up to 150 billion gallons of water each year!
3. Press Pause on Purchases
It’s easy to get swept up buying eco-friendly products, but one of the best
ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce your consumption
altogether. Try a three-day cooling period for all purchases — if you think
you need something, wait three days. If you still need it, go ahead and get
it. Buying less reduces greenhouse gases from shipping, reduces the
creation of new products and — as an added bonus — reduces the stuff you
have to dust around.
4. Skip Seasonal Trends
Keeping up with the latest fashions can be fun, but a lot of those clothes
will wind up in the landfill. Instead, focus on buying classic clothes that
will last a long time and focus on taking care of them. Wash less often
(hello, Febreze FABRIC!) and use cold water when you do — it helps colors last longer and is
better for the environment. Just be sure to use a detergent like Tide Coldwater Clean, which is specially formulated for use in cold water. You can use up to
50% less energy by switching from warm to cold water.
5. Stay Cool with Curtains
That summer sunlight shining through your windows is also bringing the heat
— and raising your energy bill. The air conditioner has to work hard to
combat the heat that comes in through your windows, but you can help by
shutting the curtains in rooms you’re not using. You’ll reduce your home’s
energy consumption and see the lower rate the next time your bill comes
around. This works in the winter, too, just in reverse —helping to keep the
heat inside your home instead of leaching out through the glass.
6. Bike to Work
This one takes a bit of effort — literally — but it’s totally worth it. If you live close enough to your office to commute by bike, you not only reap the physical benefits of exercise, but also the fiscal and environmental benefits of leaving your car in park.
Want to cut back but not quite ready to helmet up? Try taking public
transit! Riding the bus or subway a few days a week can help cut back your
greenhouse gas production.
7. Make Your Next Vacation a Staycation
Jetting off to a beach may sound like pure bliss, but air travel racks up more than just frequent flyer miles. According to a recent New York Times article, just one person’s share of the emissions on a one-way flight from New York to Los Angeles shrinks the summer sea ice by 32 square feet!
Instead, consider playing tourist in your own city or one nearby. You’ll feel good about a smaller carbon footprint, and you’ll likely spend a lot less money than you would on a vacation in a far-off destination.