10 Eco-Habits: Make the World Better, Start with Yourself
An ecological lifestyle not only helps save the environment, but also helps save you money.
Taking a responsible attitude toward the environment benefits not only our planet, but you too. There are many very wealthy and famous personalities who lead an eco-friendly lifestyle and promote conscious consumption — from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to actor Brad Pitt.
Moreover, even if it is customary for you to throw garbage on the floor in your yard, keeping an eco-friendly way of life will be your own personal choice.
So, here are 10 useful eco-habits:
1. Minimize the number of plastic bags at home
Completely abandoning plastic bags is quite difficult to do, but there are several options for beginners:
- Reuse them (this also applies to small bags in which vegetables and groceries are packed);
- Use packages made from recycled plastic, which is usually written on the label;
- Or, the old-fashioned way (for uncompromising ecologists), take out the garbage in a plastic bag, empty it and then wash it.
- switch to fabric eco-bags;
- if possible, choose packaging made from recycled paper;
- take out your old plastic bags at the collection points for recycling;
- refuse a plastic bag when you buy clothes or other small things — just put them in your bag or backpack.
A clear illustration of the number of accumulated plastic bags: for one trip to the store, for a week, a month and six months. To reduce the amount of household waste you throw out (for which these same plastic bags from the store come in handy), you can get yourself a kitchen shredder or waste disposal unit.
2. Use recycling and waste collection points
Finding the nearest recycle point is easy enough. You can use the special electronic recycle map, which gives details for many large cities in Russia, or run a quick Google search.
Organizing separate collection points for waste paper, plastic and glass containers is not difficult to do in the home. For example, plastic bottles can be stored quite compactly, simply by folding them correctly.
In addition, you can sometimes still receive payment for taking your old packaging to the recycle point. You can expect a small sum for one kilo of plastic and for one kilo of waste paper as well.
As for the collection of used batteries, this can be tackled jointly with neighbors. For example, put a special box in your building entrance with an appeal to the neighbors. Thus, it’s possible to optimize efforts and then organize convenient delivery of the collected batteries to the reception point (click here to see the current information about where to take used batteries).
3. Use hot mugs and reusable bottles
Many coffee shops will offer a discount to customers who take “coffee to go” in their containers. This is a good way to save money. You could also make coffee or tea at home and take it with you in a container.
In large cities there are usually lots of vending machines selling water, and you can also use your own bottle. Before buying a new bottle, we recommend paying attention to the material and type, for example, not all food plastic is suitable for long-term use, and glass containers can be quite heavy to carry.
Usually the more durable and resistant are special sports bottles made from thermoplastic. Also, recently popular are the so-called infusers, which are generally glass bottles with special strains or containers for sliced fruits, vegetables or berries. In this way, you can add flavor to your water without adding extra calories.
4. Give things a second life
In case you are ready to give your things for free, it’s easy to do a good deed. For example, donate your boring or out-of-fashion clothes to the “Red Cross” (its representatives work in all countries), or get in touch with local charitable organizations.
There are also internet services like darudar.org, where you can give away almost anything (not just wardrobe items) in a convenient way. Old books can be transferred to bookcrossing or donated to the district library.
If your old clothes and valuables are in a reasonable condition and you want to get rid of them, you could take them to the pawn shop or sell them online.
5. Consume Wisely
Many of our purchases are spontaneous, they litter up the home, and do not add to our sense of wellbeing in any way. Indeed, research psychologist and professor at the University of British Columbia, Elizabeth Dunn, and Harvard Professor Michael Norton Business demonstrated that the accumulation of things does not make people happy.
At the same time, happiness, for example, is brought by spending on travel. And the term “responsible consumption” is strengthened and develops in the economy, implying the economical use of natural resources to meet only your basic needs. It is also one of 12 items on the list of 17 global goals defined by the UN for world leaders and large corporations.
Spending money on too many things is not a good idea in the modern world. You can gain much more value by investing in education (in the broadest sense) and spending your money on travel.
6. Be careful when you shop
Try to buy goods on the principle of reducing the transport distance — in other words, use local manufacturers. Thus, the distance of their transportation is reduced, and, accordingly, the number of transport exhaust emissions as well.
Choose products with a minimum amount of packaging (or without any at all), or don’t use plastic if there is an alternative.
Pay attention to the labeling of “eco-product” packaging, and make sure they are certified. Eating such foods is beneficial not only for health, but for the environment in general. Check the label to see if the product has been produced using chemical fertilizers and pesticides as they are harmful to the environment.
7. Check the composition of household chemicals and cosmetics
Quite a lot of producers (including domestic ones) are starting to produce eco-lines of cleaning products for the home that do not contain phosphates, chlorine or other substances harmful to the environment.
Packages of such products are usually labeled “phosphate-free“, or “biodegradable“. In addition, part of these cleaners can be completely replaced by standard soda water, vinegar and mustard powder.
As a part of cosmetic products, surfactants can be harmful to the environment in shampoos and shower gels, for example, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate).
Together with sewage, they enter the water supply and have an adverse effect on the environment and our bodies. Ultimately, these substances affect the quality of drinking water.
In addition, with constant use they contribute to the development of dry skin and dry hair and reduce your normal lipid rate.
Now there are several well-known brands that have set themselves the goal of making household chemicals as safe as possible for health and the environment.
8. Save household resources
There are a lot of small tricks for saving household resources:
- switching to technical solutions for economic power usage (energy-saving lamps, sensors for switching on/off lights, sensor water taps, water aerators);
- installation of a dishwasher (it consumes less water than with normal hand washing);
- secondary use of water (for example, for watering plants);
- remembering to turn off the water when you brush your teeth or use soap in the shower;
- monitoring of electricity consumption (for example, the so-called passive flow rate – when electrical appliances are simply plugged in but aren’t switched on).
Evidence shows that if these rules are observed, the savings amount can reach up to 20%, with a noticeable reduction in the rates for utilities.
An aerator for mixers is a fairly simple and inexpensive way to save water. Depending on the model and its design features, the price ranges from $2 to $10.
9. Optimize your transportation
Of course, the most environmentally friendly (as well as economical and healthy) ways to get to work are walking and biking. Alas, this is not always possible with our domestic climate.
Public transport in general (especially trolleybuses) are also considered a more acceptable option for eco-friendly living. However, in the case of a car, a rational solution could be joint trips and any other kind of car sharing services.
You can run a search for fellow travelers, with whom you can divide the cost of gasoline — a very economical solution. There are lots of services that provide this: the most popular ones are BlaBlaCar and BeepCar.
In services like BlaBlaCar there are a lot of additional options for a more comfortable trip, for example, “Only for women” (this means that both the driver and the passenger are women).
In the capital, the tendency to refuse a personal car in favor of short-term car rental services (with a per minute payment) is also gaining momentum. You can move on the nearest car independently instead of taking a taxi.
10. Plant trees
These are useful activities not only for nature (a small contribution to global warming), but for your own health too — a day of physical work in the open air is quite valuable and beneficial for the majority of office residents.