By Julia Furmanek
In light of the pandemic and my decision to attend class remotely this academic year, I ended up renting a little house in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of hippies. While perhaps I’ve heard a little more about philosophy than I care to remember, I am truly grateful for what my roommates have taught me about the condition and treatment of our environment.
While navigating the realities of running a household, we’ve picked up some eco-friendly habits along the way I thought I’d share with you all. Here are nine tasks and practices you can take on to make your home a greener place.
Unplug your devices
About 10 percent of electricity use comes from devices that are turned off, but left plugged in 24/7. You can cut down on your energy usage quite a bit just by getting in the habit of unplugging when you’re done using something.
Commit to eating less meat
Nearly 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are the product of the meat and dairy industry, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. If meat and animal products are not something you feel ready to eliminate completely from your diet, perhaps try implementing vegan days into your routine to help reduce your consumption.
Donate to a consignment shop
As you work through spring cleaning this year, swap the trash bin out for a trip to the thrift store. Your old clothes are better off on someone else’s back than in a landfill. If you’re like me and usually like to add new items to your wardrobe with the changing of the seasons, avoid firsthand fast fashion and opt for thrifted items if you can.
Collect greywater for your houseplants
Rather than fill your watering can up from the tap, be cognizant of water in your household that might not be ideal for drinking but would be suitable for plants. After boiling pasta, I like to strain the excess water into mason jars for collection.
Air dry your laundry
Electric dryers are not as cost-effective or energy efficient as your grandmother’s clothesline. Learn how to build a line-drier here. While I haven’t committed to doing this with all of my laundry items yet, I hang up sweaters and other thicker items that require multiple cycles to dry.
Use homemade “cling-wrap”
Single-use plastics just needlessly litter the environment. You can make cling wrap using fabric in beeswax and save money on foils and plastic wrap in the long run. You can even customize the wraps with certain fabrics to match your dishware.
Reusable “paper” towels
As an honorary clutz, I spill stuff all the time and end up burning through paper towels faster than I can run to the store to replace them. By making your own roll of reusable towels out of cloth, you can reduce your carbon footprint, and you’ll never worry about running out again.
Invest in a DivaCup, Thinx or other reusable menstrual products
Not only are most tampons loaded with chemicals that don’t belong in a human body, but like many other single-use goods, they just end up littering our planet. The Huff Post reports the average tampon-user will go through 9,120 of them in their lifetime. Unfortunately for many of us, menstruation is not going away, but there are a lot of reusable hygiene products out there that are kinder to our environment.
Start a mini compost bin
Reduce food waste and put the nutrients you don’t eat right back into the soil! At my apartment, we like to collect our eggshells to feed the houseplants. For just $10, you can make a compost bin with these instructions here.
Get a head start on Earth Day next month and try out some of these tasks. When it comes to our shared habitat, anything counts!