Today I’ve got a special guest post on ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home!  This was put together by Julia Weaver with contributions from me and many others.

17 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

July 14, 2020 by Julia Weaver

In today’s environment, there are many ways homeowners can reduce their waste and energy use. Whether it be from planting a garden, composting, or reusing items that were previously recycled, the opportunities are endless. And, if you live in a hot climate that receives a considerable amount of sunlight – like Phoenix, Arizona or Miami, Florida – maybe switching to solar power might be the right option for you. We asked experts from across the country to share their tips on how homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint and live a more sustainable life. 

 

 

 

Avoid cleaning products with harmful chemicals

Consider using EPA Safer Choice certified green cleaning products that are biodegradable and non-toxic. These products will not only deep clean your laundry but they will also remove residue you didn’t know was there. This will help you create a healthier home by reducing airborne chemicals and keeping your washing machine clean to keep it running long into the future! – Charlie’s Soap

 

Reduce the amount of food you throw away

We throw away about 40 percent of our food in the US – food that was grown with water, fossil fuels, money, and labor – and this food waste turns into a major greenhouse gas in landfills, known as methane. To help preserve the environment and reduce food waste, store your food properly, keep your fridge clutter-free, freeze excess food, and compost food scraps. – No Trace

 

Opt for green products

Green products are surprisingly powerful and can yield the same results as traditional harmful products if used properly. Not using products properly is by far the biggest mistake people make when using green products, so be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Homeowners love using them as a way to protect themselves, their children, and their pets from health risks that are associated with prolonged exposure to traditional harmful products.  – Modern Maids

 

Invest in solar energy for your home

Installing a solar system on your home allows you to harness the power of the sun and produce your own clean energy, moving away from the dependence on fossil fuels and reducing electric cost at the same time. – REP Solar

 

The Earth’s atmosphere is exponentially increasing in carbon dioxide levels, so now may be the best time ever to invest in renewable solar energy. Going solar has been proven to reduce your carbon footprint, and is an investment that will pay itself back over time. Now is the perfect opportunity for everyone to make an impact by saving our planet. – Altair Solar

Repurpose containers you would otherwise toss out

Instead of tossing food containers – which may not actually end up being recycled – keep a small collection that can be repurposed. For example, a jar of spaghetti sauce can be used to hold pens or small tools, as drinking glasses, to store leftovers, or to keep hair ties. Even if you have a small space, find a shelf where you can store containers in a (reused) cardboard box and grab one the next time instead of purchasing a new container. – Bev Goes Green

 

Make small changes in the kitchen and bathroom

Keeping a waste-free home can be difficult, but a few simple, low-cost changes can lessen your home’s environmental impact dramatically. Consider the two most wasteful rooms in your home, the kitchen and the bathroom. Try swapping plastic straws for reusable straws in the kitchen, and why not invest in a safety razor for your bathroom. – Jungle Straws

 

Grow your own food in your backyard

Having a backyard garden can reduce your carbon footprint substantially. When you grow your own food it takes less resources to grow and to make its way to your table. But one of the ways we have reduced our resource use even further is by installing a rainwater barrel to water our garden. It was super simple to install ourselves in an afternoon and now we save 200 or more gallons of water every month.  – Sustainably Shelbi

 

Discover new ways to live a sustainable lifestyle

Separating and composting your food scraps can be the first step into a world of sustainability. When you begin to separate your waste into three categories–compost, recycling, and landfill, you become more mindful about what is in all three categories. Then you can go about discovering what you’re actually wasting and how you could shop or eat differently to reduce. Reduce, reuse, recycle-it’s a hierarchy! – Collective Resource

Make fertilizers for your garden

Limit your food waste by creating nutrient-rich fertilizers that your indoor and outdoor garden will love. Bananas are full of potassium, coffee grinds are full of nitrogen, and fish bones (if processed properly) are chock full of phosphorus. – Food Cycle Science

Design an edible landscape

Homeowners can help preserve the environment by implementing edible landscapes into their property. Work with a landscape designer to create a landscape with plants that offer both aesthetic and sustainable nutrition, like a lemon tree for example.  – Prana Nutrition

 

Use a solid-state hard drive

Consider upgrading your older laptop or computer instead of buying a new one by replacing the hard drive with a solid-state drive. You will notice your laptop running much faster, adding years to its life. – High Tech Recycling

 

Wash your clothes in cold water rather than hot water

Homeowners can easily reduce their demand for energy by changing their laundry practices. For example, consider washing all your laundry with cold water. GE Appliances estimates that 75 to 90 percent of all the energy your washer uses goes to warming up the water. By switching to cooler water less energy is used and this can result in a lower bill for you! It’s a win, win for the homeowner and the planet. –The Honest Consumer

 

Introduce more vegetables into your home

Homeowners can help preserve the environment by trying to lead a more conscious lifestyle, ditching things they don’t really need to make more space for the things that make them happier and healthier. One practical way to apply this is to decrease your meat consumption and eat more vegetables, which will help you feel better, live longer, and reduce your amount of greenhouse gas emissions. –Simple Vegan

 

Eat more veggies! The vegan lifestyle has the smallest footprint on the environment, as far as land use, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, your health will benefit from it, too. – Better Vegan

 

Add a solar awning if your roof is too small

Is your roof is too small to get enough electric power from solar? Try adding a purpose-built solar awning facing south underneath your roof eave all along the side of your house. This would also give a little shade and shelter from the rain as you enter your door. – Harvest Sun Solar

 

Incorporate automation to reduce your carbon footprint

Installing automation technology provides an easy way for homeowners to monitor their device usage, which can save you money and wasted energy, and also reduce your carbon footprint. We’re working on a system that can anticipate people’s needs based on how they interact with their home’s devices and take actions proactively to help before you realize you need assistance. –Josh.ai

 

There you have it!  17 ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home.  Do you have any to share?  Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

11 tips to fight plastic pollution during a pandemic.

 

We used to bring home just one or two plastic-packaged groceries home from the store.  Now, with stores closing bulk bins due to COVID-19,  it feels like almost half of our groceries are in plastic.  Plastic is our clogging our waterways, polluting our planet, killing wildlife, and ending up in our bodies.  Even though our world feels upside-down during the pandemic, there are still ways to fight plastic pollution.

 

Instead of giving up altogether, I’ve put together 11 ways to fight plastic pollution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

At home:

 

1. If your tap water is safe, drink it instead of bottled water.

 

Avoid the packaging and cut down on the amount of microplastics that you eat at the same time! According to a 2018 study, bottled water has twice as many microplastics as tap water.  If your tap water is safe (i.e., you don’t live in Flint, MI or one of many other communities where contamination has occurred), it’s better for you and the planet than bottled water.  See where your communities stands here:  https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/

 

2. Store your food without plastic.

Certain plastic containers may leach harmful chemicals into foods, according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Save your old plastic containers for non-food stuff, like organizing your kids art supplies or pebble collection.  Use plastic-free containers instead for your food like glass jars, pyrex, stainless steel, and wax wraps.  You can get plastic-free containers at LifeWithoutPlastic.com and wax wraps from yours truly at https://notraceshop.com/beeswaxwraps/

3. Choose to cook at home most of the time.  

 

I admit, this one is kinda tough for me.  I mean, cooking &/or washing dishes everyday and night gets old, amiright?  But we try to limit our take out to once a week.  One of our local pizza shops delivers vegan pizza (no plastic box topper!) so we’ll enjoy it and then compost the box.  And we’re trying to support our favorite restaurants during the pandemic.  Normally we’d dine in.  But we’ve opted for takeout in plastic, just sparingly.  

 

I’ve got a few posts on easy, low waste, vegan dinner ideas here and here  and here.

 

4. Keep microplastics out of our water.

 

Put your synthetic fabrics into a Guppyfriend bag or toss a Cora ball into your wash to catch the microfibers released by your fabrics.  You can get a Guppyfriend bag at Ethos in Capitola (shop online here) and a Cora ball from Earthhero.com. Microplastics are polluting our water and ending up in our bodies.  Stopping them at the source is key.

 

At the store:

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Buy larger quantities.

 

If you can’t shop into your own containers, like we can’t right now, opt for the largest portion you can find that won’t spoil.  Pantry staples like beans and grains are a safe bet, as well as flour, sugar, salt, and other baking supplies.  

 

6. Look for paper over plastic packaging.

 

Since bulk foods aren’t available in bulk right now, we’ve been searching for paper-packaged versions instead.  We’ve been able to find paper alternatives for pasta, sugar, salt, pinto beans, lentils, rice, & flour.  We recycle the paper packaging if it’s clean, and compost it if it’s not.  

 

We’re also looking for glass and metal options over plastic – e.g., certain peanut butter and olive oil brands come in large plastic-free packaging.

 

7. Rethink certain ingredients.  

Can you substitute something in plastic for something not?  Can you find a lower waste alternative?  Opt for unpackaged fruits & veggies in the produce aisle.  Now’s the time to show your flexibility with food.  In our house, rather than buy green lentils in plastic, e.g., we’re eating mostly red lentils that we were able to buy in a huge paper bag.  

 

8. If you can’t bring your own bags, skip the bag altogether.  

 

Lots of stores will let you put your groceries into your cart, then use your own bags at your bike or car or on the curb.  We’ll place loose produce in our cart and then bag it at home in our own cloth bags.  You can shop for cloth bags made by No Trace here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In your community…

9. Write a letter to your local paper

AND

10. Write to your favorite local business thanking them for positive steps and asking for more.

Tell them that we need to return to/move towards reusable options in our shops, restaurants, and cafes.

Wondering if your own containers are safe during COVID-19?  The short answer is YES!

 

More than 100 scientists have signed a statement that “reusable systems can be used safely by employing basic hygiene”.  As long as we follow basic hygiene recommendations, there’s no reason to think that reusable containers are riskier than disposable containers.  In fact, the virus lives longer on plastic than on cloth, glass, and paper (

read the statement by scientists here

.  Also, although washing your hands and not touching your face is still important, the spread of COVID-19 is happening through aerosolized droplets, not from germs that remain behind on surfaces.  Spread the word!  

In the global community…

11.  Reach out to the biggest plastic polluters and demand action.

 According to a

report by Break Free From Plastic

, the 3 biggest polluters in 2019 include Coca Cola, Nestle, and PepsiCo.  Break Free From Plastic demands that corporations “reveal their plastic footprint, reduce the plastic they produce, and reinvent their packaging to be reusable”.  Reach out to them through social media or their websites. Ask your friends and family to do the same.  Take & share pictures of their plastic litter.  Demand that corporations take responsibility for their plastic pollution.

 

 

 

 

There you have it – my top 11 ways to fight plastic pollution during apandemic.  Do you have any to add?  Share in the comments below!

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz