We’ve all heard the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but there is so much more you can do to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. There are so many reasons why being conscious of our environment is important. Not only will living a “green” lifestyle help keep the planet a beautiful and healthy place, much of the time, what’s good for the environment is also good for your bank account and your own personal well being.
Environmentally Friendly Sources of Energy
Fossil fuels are everywhere. However, the carbon dioxide emissions produced from these fuels have a negative impact on the environment by contributing to the greenhouse effect. Modern-day technological advancements usher in a host of alternative energy sources that are cleaner and more sustainable than fossil fuels.
Solar panels are one of the more popular forms of renewable energy. Solar panels can be fixed to your roof, or you can use solar shingles. Solar shingles take the place of your traditional roofing, collecting power from the sun. Depending on how sunny it is where you live, you could generate at least 10 watts of power per square foot of solar paneling. Consider using solar power to heat your water, too. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, heating your water with the sun’s energy is less expensive than heating it with gas or electricity.
Biodiesel is used as fuel for a variety of things, including vehicles, generators, and furnaces. This fuel source has a much smaller impact on the environment than traditional diesel, with a carbon footprint that is up to 85% smaller. Biodiesel works like petroleum diesel, except it is made from recycled oils. For example, SeQuential biodiesel uses cooking oil from local restaurants and businesses to make their biodiesel. This not only reduces the use of fossil fuels, but it also reduces the waste produced by these businesses. Biodiesel can be used on its own or mixed with petroleum diesel.
Water use in the United States has tripled over the past 50 years, and by 2024, 40 states are expecting water shortages. With water being such a vital resource, it is important to take steps to conserve it. The average home uses about 280 gallons of water a day, and round 22% of that comes from just from doing laundry. There are many ways to conserve daily water use, such as taking shorter showers and fixing leaky pipes. If you’ve already taken these steps to conserve water, you might want to try a creative water conservation method that takes it a step further. Gray water is a method that reuses water from things such as laundry and hand washing. This water can be used for watering lawns. This means you get twice the use out of your water, and you are not wasting fresh, drinkable water for outdoor use. A similar concept is laundry wastewater recycling, which is typically used on a larger more industrial scale. This method also reduces the amount of water being used and reduces energy costs.
Transportation and Traveling
According to the EPA, the average passenger vehicle produces a staggering 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Finding alternative modes of transportation could significantly lower these emissions. If you can, ride your bike when you need to go somewhere. Not only does biking produce zero carbon dioxide emissions, it is also a great way to get your exercise in for the day. Public transportation is also a great option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The more people are using public transit, the fewer are driving a car. Fewer cars on the road mean less carbon dioxide emissions.
However, some of us live in areas where we simply have to drive in order to get around. In this case, consider carpooling. Also, when purchasing your next car, consider buying a pre-owned vehicle. While a new car might get better gas mileage, those benefits are often canceled out by the emissions created during the production of the car. It is estimated that 12 to 28 percent of the emissions created by a car occur during its manufacturing and transportation phases. If you are concerned about gas mileage, then there are plenty of pre-owned vehicles that still relatively new and still receive good gas mileage. Not to mention, pre-owned vehicles are typically less expensive than brand new ones. When shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, just be sure to use a reliable dealership, such as Townsend Automotive Tuscaloosa preowned vehicles which offer a wide variety of brands, financing, and friendly staff.
It can be surprising just how much of an environmental impact traveling has. Flying, in particular, actually has a significant environmental impact. One round-trip flight produces about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases made by the average car in a year. You can see it doesn’t take long for that to add up. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel, just be smart about your travel choices. If you are taking a short trip, consider driving to your destination, which will produce far fewer emissions. On that note, when planning your vacation, consider choosing a local destination instead of one that is halfway across the country. There are over ten thousand state parks in the US each offering unique experiences close to home! There are likely many places in your home state to explore. For example, there are many opportunities for exciting and enriching experiences in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This city has a rich Civil War history, is home to a host of museums, and has a lively historic downtown, making it the perfect spot for Mississippians to visit for a nice vacation close to home. Wherever you live, try checking out the local state parks, the state capital, or other iconic cities, especially if you haven’t been before.
If you do choose to fly somewhere, there are steps you can take to minimize the environmental footprint of your flight. While flying first class or business class may be more comfortable, a flying coach is a better option for the environment. First-class and business class seats are more spacious, meaning fewer people can fit on the plane; the more people that can take a flight, the more efficient the flight becomes. Relating to the discussion of biodiesel earlier, some airlines actually use biofuels to power their planes. Do a little research and see if you can find a flight that uses biofuel instead of traditional fossil fuels.
You don’t have to make huge changes to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Little changes really add up. Living in a way that has a positive impact on the environment has a direct positive impact on you too. Practicing some of these behaviors can help you enjoy the world you live in its fullest!