Environmental issues have been flooding the news lately. As our climate warms up we all want to do whatever we can to lessen our ecological footprint. It can feel overwhelming but if you start with a few small steps and enlist help when needed, we can all move toward a greener future.
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1. Start a compost pile
Throwing away organic material is harmful. When food scraps decompose in landfills they do so while trapped in plastic bags. This cuts off oxygen flow which is usually essential in the process of breaking down these materials. As a result landfills release a large amount of methane into the air, which in turn aid in the overheating of our atmosphere.
Composting doesn’t have to be complicated. When you’re just starting out keep it as easy as possible, as you learn more you can do more. Start by piling kitchen scraps, leaves, and cut grass into a mound that is easily accessible, not too far from your kitchen so that you’re more likely to compost food scraps than throw them in the trash can. When you’re in a gardening mood use a shovel to toss your pile, mixing up all the items. Add some water to speed up the process of decomposition if your pile seems dry.
2. Consider installing solar panels on your home or business
Solar panels are an expensive investment that can really pay off. Solar panels can increase the property value of your home and cut down (and in some cases eliminate) your energy bills. If you decide to install solar panels on your home you are eligible to receive a federal tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of installing the equipment. Many states also have a similar credit that help solar energy become an affordable option for many.
3. Get an energy audit for your home
According to the US Energy Department, “You could save 5 to 30 percent on your energy bill by making efficiency upgrades identified in your home energy audit.” Energy auditors are inspectors who assess your home to find out where your system is wasting energy. If you act on the advice you receive during your audit your home will run more effectively while you spend less money.
4. Use simple tools for lawn maintenance
Trade in that riding lawn mower and blower for a push mower and a rake. Not only will you get more exercise, you will limit the emission of toxic fumes.
5. Install water saving toilets and shower heads
Water is a precious resource we should all be interested in conserving. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use—for the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day.” By changing out your shower heads to heads with a Watersense label you can dramatically cut your family’s water consumption will little effort.
Installing water saving toilets is another easy way to cut consumption without much thought or effort. When low-flow toilets were first created manufacturers limited the amount of water used by the toilet without changing the toilets design. This resulted in toilets that used less water but didn’t flush waste down very well. Thankfully modern low-flow toilets have been redesigned to deliver a powerful flush without using up valuable resources.