New Year - Greener You!
2023 is the perfect time to pull up our socks and investigate a cleaner and greener lifestyle! You may have been putting it off, thinking it was too hard, expensive, or time consuming, but NOPE! It's actually quite the opposite. In fact, it's so easy to be eco conscious, you'll have more time on your hands and more money in your pocket.
There are hundreds of ways to live a greener lifestyle, but here are our top 23 for 2023, because we're cute like that.
23 Way to live Greener in 2023
IN THE HOME:
1. Learn Your Community's Waste and Recycling Rules
Not all paper and plastic is recyclable, and different cities have different facilities. Visit your municipality's website or see if they have a Waste Wizard app to become acquainted with what's recyclable in your neighbourhood.
Pro Tip: Use this new info to adapt your shopping list according to what's recyclable.
2. Use Garbage for Your Garbage
Now that you know what's recyclable and what isn't, use this info when sorting your trash. Reuse non-recyclable bags to line your garbage bins (like potato chip bags), and recyclable bags to sort your recyclables. There is NO need to purchase plastic garbage bags when you have so many you can use already.
Pro Tip: If your trash bins are too big, replace them with smaller bins or boxes. It's also not necessary that your bag fit the container perfectly.
3. Compost in the bathroom
Think about the garbage that you produce in the washroom - tissues, bamboo dental floss, hair and nail clippings...all of it is compostable and doesn't belong in a landfill. Consider adding a small compost bin to your washroom!
Pro Tip: Reuse a jar with a lid to keep these undesirables out of sight. Channel your inner Martha Steward with paint or mod podge to decorate the jar to match your decor.
4. Clean Your Laundry
But like -really- clean your laundry. Most laundry detergents are primarily composed of water with a whole bunch of fragrances and chemicals. These huge jugs are heavy, not great for your skin, fabrics or the environment, and come in a space hogging single-use plastic container. Make the switch now to concentrated laundry detergent strips. They're light weight, space saving, and really work.
Moving over the the dryer - those single-use fabric sheets have got to go. They're full of chemicals that clog up your fabric and your appliance. Switch to wool dryer balls and/or static eliminating dryer sheets. You won't regret it.
Pro Tip: Leave your wool balls and reusable dryer sheets in the dryer for the next cycle. No need to ever remove them!
5. Rewear Your Clothes
Permission grated to rewear your clothes! Cut back on the time spend doing laundry, and increase the longevity of your clothing. Your clothes really don't need to be washed unless they're stinky or visibly dirty. Spread the word - your friends will thank you.
Pro Tip: A great way to keep track of what clothes you've already worn is to flip the hanger backwards, or to have a separate shelf or pile for them.
6. Embrace Biodegradables
Chances are that you've been purchasing the same tired products that your parents used, and their parents before that. With household tools and cleaning products, there's nothing sexy about sourcing new products (unless you're me...I live for that stuff). But the thing is, research and development have come a long way since our fore-bearers, as has our understand of why we shouldn't pour chemicals down the drain for funsies.
The fact of the matter is - there are options now that are better for the environment and your indoor air quality that work just as well as their big box store comparables. And we just happen to have a selection on Eco Shark; check them out.
Pro Tip: It's not just cleaning products that are biodegradable! Upgrade your kitchen brushes, sponges, and cloths too so they can be composted instead of landfilled once used up.
7. Unplug electronics
Electronics have come a long way since they continuously chugged electricity simply for being plugged in, but they're still not completely electrically abstinent. It's called Phantom Energy Load and you can potentially save up to 10% of your electrical bill if you're fastidious about unplugging.
Here are the top offenders to unplug: All entertainment units (TV, DVD player, video game consoles, etc.), home office equipment (computer, printer, monitors, etc.), and small kitchen appliances (microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, etc.)
Pro Tip: Look into surge protecting power bars so you only need to unplug one cord when you're finished using your appliances.
8. Lower your thermostat
One of the quickest and best adjustments you can make for your energy consumption and to reduce your bill payments. The suggested best temperature to set your thermostat to is 20°C (68°F) during the day, and down to 16°C (61°F) at night or when you're not home.
Pro Tip: Invest in a programmable thermostat to set it and forget it! There are often really great incentives available that can potentially give you the thermostat for free!
9. Maintain appliances
Appliances that have built up dirt or residue need more energy to work efficiently, and as an added bonus, proper care will help your expensive appliances last longer. Here are the top three to keep in tip top shape:
- The refrigerator: Vacuum those coils every 6 months or so to prevent dust build up.
- Furnace: Replace your filters for optimal air flow and efficiency.
- Washing machine: There's often a clean tub setting - aim to use it monthly to prevent residue and mold build up.
Pro Tip: Set a reminder in your calendar to help you remember. Each of these tasks only takes a few minutes, but will save you both energy and money - definitely worth the effort!
IN THE KITCHEN:
10. Meal Plan to Eliminate Food Waste
Get into the habit of planning out your meals in advance. If you're not a natural planner or a kitchen aficionado, there are a lot of free resources available online, and books at the library. The learning curve of planning is well worth it - you'll save time at the grocery store, experience less stress throughout the week with a plan in hand, and you'll eliminate untold amounts of food.
Pro Tip: Share the work by teaming up with some friends to each plan out a week. Share the meal plans, and reuse them throughout the year.
11. Batch Cook like a Bad Ass
Take it a bit further and experience the joy of batch cooking. Armed with your meal plan, find the commonalities and make them in one batch ahead of time. One roast chicken can fuel a chicken dinner, a pot pie, a soup, and sandwiches.
Pro Tip: Another time to lean on your friends! Assign a meal or two to each person to double up on the recipes, then exchange the duplicates.
12. Bring Your Own Lunch and Snacks
I get it - it's hard to add yet another task to your day, but preparing your own lunch and snack, even just a couple times each week, will save you big bucks over time and eliminate an awful lot of takeout garbage. Brown bagging it will also keep your calories in check.
13. BYOCC - Bring Your Own Coffee Cup
A cup of coffee is usually more than just a hot drink - it warms you up, fuels your tank, and gives you a good reason to get out of the office/house and take a walk. But all those coffee cups add up and most of them are single-use garbage. Break the cycle of the coffee break and bring your own cup.
Pro Tip: Make sure to ask the server about drink discounts for BYOC. Slowly but surely that savings will add up to get you a muffin for all that hard work!
14. Use your appliances with purpose
Particularly useful for singles or small families, counter top appliances will get your meals on the table much faster and with less electricity, without sacrificing any quality or flavour. Ovens take forever to heat up to the right temperature, and so much energy is wasted if you're not preparing a massive family meal.
Pro Tip: Find a friend or neighbour who you can share specialty appliances with. It's fun to use things like Sous Vides, but you probably won't use it enough to necessitate owning one.
IN THE GARDEN:
15. Compost-ess with the Most-est
If you're not already composting, it's time to start. Food rotting in the landfill creates methane, which is 21 x's worse for Climate Change than carbon dioxide. Food decomposing in a compost adds critical nutrients back into the soil.
Pro Tip: If your apartment or workplace isn't composting, bring your concerns up with management and let them know how impactful composting is for the environment.
16. Plant a vegetable or herb garden
Even a few planters of herbs in your window or on your balcony is well worth the effort. Next time you're in the grocery store, have a look at the number of produce wrapped in plastic. Each of these that you do not purchase makes a difference...on your wallet, in your stomach, and at the landfill.
Pro Tip: If you're not able to grow your own vegetables, visit local farmers markets for produce. They've travelled the least distance, are harvested at peak ripeness for maximum taste and nutrition, and you'll be supporting local. Win, win, win!
17. Re-wild your lawn
The idea of a weed-free grassy lawn is a dated concept meant to be a shameless display of wealth. It comes at the expense of robbing the local bird and insect population of habitat and food.
There is a growing trend of property owners restoring their properties with native species to support local wildlife and to combat Climate Change. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of rewilding, you'll also enjoy less maintenance and overall cost.
Pro Tip: Find a local gardening club - members are usually very passionate and knowledgable about gardening and very likely be open to helping you get started with free propagations and/or seeds.
18. Refuse Single-use Plastic
Our society is rife with single-use plastic conveniences - but having the plastic packaging exist on this earth for 100+ years is anything but convenient. For every single-use option there is a more responsible reusable or biodegradable option. Here are just a few of our favourites:
- Shampoo and Conditioner bars - each bar lasts for the equivalent of 3 bottles of shampoo, and work just as well!
- Biodegradable kitchen brushes - these brushes work just as well as their terrible plastic cousins and don't release microplastics down the drain. Upgrade today!
- Reusable juice pouches - Kids love a juice box. They're fun, they're sugary, they're a detriment to the environment. Take control of the waste and their sugar intake and invest in our reusable juice pouches instead.
19. BYOB - Bring your own Bag
The hardest part about replacing plastic bags is simply building the habit. A plastic bag will be in use for an average of 12 minutes, but can last for a thousand years and can literally kill sea turtles. Invest in a couple high quality, long lasting fabric bags, or some ultra lightweight and foldable ones that fit into your purse, backpack, or pocket.
Pro Tip: Keep a few bags with your keys, so anytime you venture out on a shopping trip they're within eyesight of your house or car keys.
20. Buy Second Hand
Depending on what you're in the market for, have a good search of your local Kijiji or facebook marketplace listings first. No only can you save some serious money, you will also be helping someone in your community. The thrill of the hunt can be really fun, and you may even find some great vintage or handmade items that are way more interesting than a mass produced big box item.
Pro Tip: Find your local Buy Nothing Project, or start one up yourself! Your neighbours may have an extra garlic press or laundry basket they'd be happy to gift to you for free.
21. Reject Fast Fashion
We're all grown ups here - let's invest in better quality, ethically made and sustainable fashion. They'll last longer and the classic look of well-made clothing is fashionable on everyone.
Pro Tip: Organize a clothing swap with your friends. It'll a fun night to hang out, catch up, and update your wardrobe with new-to-you finds.
22. Learn About Climate Change, and Speak Up!
Climate Change is a complicated and multi-faceted issue and it can be intimidating discussing complex issues that you don't feel expertly knowledgable about. But speaking up is STILL a HUGE asset - sharing the information you have with your friends, family, and colleagues and discussing your concerns help bring light to the topic. The more people talking about it the better - talk spurs action and action spurs change.
Pro Tip: Join a group like Talk Climate to Me, a fun, free, and online team-based climate education experience for women in Canada.
23. Contact Your Political Representative
After getting up-to-date with climate and environmental policies in your community, contact your local representative and let them know what's important to you. Politics are one of the biggest ways we can impact the environment, so roll up your sleeves and write that email!
Pro Tip: Search online for sample emails to get your started, and customize for your issue and representative.
And there you have it - 23 ways for a green lifestyle in 2023! Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!