Have A Greener Life By Changing These 12 Bad Habits

Changing a few small habits could make a big environmental impact.
Apr 13, 2010 11:27 AM ET

Have A Greener Life By Changing These 12 Bad Habits

Most of us want to do our part to help with environmental issues. But we all lead busy lives. We feel tired, get lazy and maybe let things slide a little. Well, if you’ve become lax about your environmental commitment, or if you’re one of the millions out there who just don’t think what you do makes a difference, take stock of your eco-habits and get back on track toward living a greener lifestyle. Read the tips below and rethink what can be accomplished with very little extra effort.

Break These 13 Bad Eco-Habits

You Don’t Recycle.

Recycling is one of the most important things you can do to lessen your environmental impact. So just do it! Many cities now make recycling as easy as taking out the trash with curb side recycling pick up. It takes very little effort to sort and collect recyclables, especially when you’d normally be throwing the item away anyway. Instead, throw it into a bin or can set aside specifically for recycling. If you don’t have a recycling service available in your area, recycling is a little harder, but so worth the effort. Find a recycling center near you and drop off your recyclables. Then just throw the boxes in your trunk (along with a box containing any charitable donations you might want to make) and drop them off on errand day.

You Always Buy New.

Skip the mall and buy used first. Instead of buying a new gizmo, gadget, jacket or pair of jeans in a retail store, see if you can find a used one instead. By buying used, you’re not only lengthening a product’s usefulness, but you’re also reducing the need for new items to be made, which lessens the environmental impact of product production. This one is a no-brainer... Ask around, chances are someone you know will have a gently used whatchamacallit you can purchase at a reduced price -- or they might even give it to you. Check out thrift stores, resale shops and yard sales, too. One great side effect, yard sale shopping is fun and since you get in a good walk around your neighborhood, it’s good for you, too.

You’re A Litter Bug.

“Who, me?” you say. Well, maybe you’d never throw a bag of trash out of your car window (although I see this happen almost everyday) but you might still be a litter bug. Do you smoke? If you drop ashes or a ciggy butt on the ground and stomp it out when you’ve finished your smoke, you’re a litter bug. Or do you chew gum and toss it out the window when your through chewing? Well, your a litter bug, too. These seem like small things, but they’re not. Cigarette butts and gum can harm wildlife if eaten. And think about how gross it is to have someone’s discarded gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. If you can’t give up cigs and gum completely, at least dispose of them properly.

You Constantly Push The Thermostat Up Or Down.

Don’t make the same mistake any people make by cranking the A/C or heat when you’re too hot or cold. This is a common practice, and most people don’t realizing that a more moderate temperature or usage time would keep them completely comfortable. First, it takes a while for the temp in your house to change, so pushing the temperature gauge up or down doesn’t have an immediate effect, anyway. In fact, pushing the thermostat up or down makes your unit work harder and less efficiently. This hurts your wallet and the environment. No one’s asking you to forgo comfort, but set the temp at a reasonable level and leave it alone. If you’re hot, sit down with a cool drink, or turn on a ceiling fan. If you’re too cold, put on a sweater -- that’s what they’re for, after all. If you really want to make a difference, you can even try reducing the temperature by one degree each winter or increasing it by one degree each summer. Example, if you set your A/C on 74 in the summer, take it up to 75; in winter, go from 72 to 71 degrees. Chances are your body won’t know the difference, but your pocketbook will. And so will Mother Nature.

You Forget To Change Your A/C filters.

Think about it. When your A/C is running inefficiently, you use more electricity. Changing the filters every three months will keep your system running smoothly. It will also improve the air quality in your home.

You Over-Water Your Yard.

Plants need water. The key is watering in the right amount. Over-watering is one of the most wasteful uses of a dwindling resource. Over-watering risks run-off. Run-off isnot only wasteful, but expensive if you pay a city water bill. And while run-off water may eventually return to the water table through storm drains, it may also take with it any chemicals you use to fertilize or control pests. And that’s not something you want going down the drain. So if you can’t seem to settle on the right amount of water for your yard, install a sprinkler with the hygrometer which will measure the amounts of humidity and rainfall. Then you can adjust your system with confidence.

You Run Your Appliances At Peak Hours.

We’ve all heard that it’s best to run appliance like dishwashers and washing machines at off peak times, but think about the impact this one small change could have. If even half of the residents in your neighborhood started using less energy at peaks time (like at night instead of during the day) not only would you saving on your own energy bill, you could actually impact the amount of energy used in your entire community. Now that would make a difference.

You Don’t Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly.

If your vehicle's tires are under inflated by only 6 psi, it could lead to tire failure and a reduction in fuel economy of up to 5%. While 6 psi doesn't seem all that low, remember, it usually represents about 20% of the tire's recommended pressure. That translates to increased fuel use, which means more environmental impact and less money in your pocket.

You Put Batteries In The Trash.

What do you do with your old batteries? Unlike glass, paper, and plastic, batteries are filled with reactive chemicals, so it’s important to dispose of them properly. Take a minute to learn more about how you can properly dispose of batteries at Earth911.com, and help keep hazardous, toxic chemicals out of landfills. And the next time you need new batteries, why not get a rechargeable one. Two AA NiCd rechargeable batteries can replace up to 600 single-use batteries.

You Don’t Unplug Appliances When Not In Use.

You’re wrong if you think this is a trivial thing. If a device is plugged in, the wall outlet still pumps current to it whether it's on or not. Think of how much energy is wasted over the course of a year, just from cell phone chargers, TVs, game systems, and other appliances always being plugged. Yes, it probably costs you a lot of money, but all that wasted energy can really damage the environment, too. So unplug it!

You Still Use Plastic Shopping Bags.

Plastic bags rip and break all the time, spilling your groceries and taking up your valuable time. They’re a pain to store, and a problem to dispose of. So why not buy a durable, reusable cloth shopping bag? You can get them almost anywhere these days, and they’re so much more eco-friendly. Plus you’ll look tres chic carrying them around.

You Drive When You Could Walk.

If you can walk or bike around your city to do errands or shop, you should. A good rule to go by is the “2 minute rule”. If you can get there in about 2 minutes by car, you could probably bike or possibly even walk that distance in about 15 minutes. Walking or biking to nearby destinations make sense on a number of levels. You’re saving fuel and lowering emissions, and you’ll benefit from the added exercise. Plus you’ll get to say hello to your neighbors, and breathe some fresh air in the process.

This is only a partial list of the many bad habits that our society needs to address. The point is to start today to change your lifestyle in small and simple ways, and over time, you’ll be making a big difference. For more tips like these or to add your own, visit the original post.

Greenopolis.com is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.


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