It’s the first day of spring and you may feel inspired to get outside, open the windows, dust off your shelves, and declutter your home. With a little forethought, you can do all of these things with very little environmental impact. Here are some tips and tricks for reducing your environmental footprint this spring.
Ride a bike and use public transportation
In the U.S., as much as a quarter of an average American’s environmental footprint comes from personal transportation
. Riding a bike or using public transportation can help reign in your carbon emissions. Indulge in the refreshing sunlight and breeze on a bike and the opportunity to read while commuting via public transportation.
Try calculating whether you live at a bikeable distance to your workplace or other common stopovers like the grocery store. If you’re not used to using your bike as a means of transportation, it helps to equip yourself with a bike lock, helmet and bike basket or carrying cases. You can also wear a backpack to add more carrying capacity for groceries.
Make your spring cleaning habits circular
The circular economy trend has inspired many businesses including Nike and Dell
to reconsider the life-cycles of their products. By extending the useful lives of the material objects in your personal life, you can greatly improve your environmental footprint.
Rather than throw out old clothes, household goods or unused appliances, consider extending their useful lives. Here are some ways you can prevent goods from entering the waste-stream during your spring cleaning ritual this year.
For clothes, consider tailoring and alteration, repurposing, or consignment. Keep household goods and unused appliances out of the trash by donating or reselling them. For any excess packaging lying around, try your best to salvage reusable bins and containers or recycle them.
Eat food grown from a local farm or garden
Springtime is a great time to cut down on the packaging, transport and pesticides and fertilizer runoff that come with conventional store-bought produce. You can do so by planting your own food in a personal or community garden or shopping directly from farmers at your local farmer’s market. The more organic, local and seasonal produce you buy, the less negative impacts it will have on the environment.
Minimize your household consumption
Did you know our household energy, electricity and water consumption accounts for over a fifth of our overall ecological footprint
in the U.S.? There are three main areas we can cut down: heat, electricity, and water.
Heat and electricity are easy to cut down on during spring as the weather warms up and the sun shines longer. Be sure to turn off your lights and unplug unused appliances and devices that use small amounts of electricity even when they’re not turned on.
When it comes to water, one easy way to cut down on water resource use is to take shorter showers. An eight minute shower generally consumes 20 gallons of water, while running hot water for just five minutes consumes as much electricity as a 60-watt light bulb consumes in 22 hours. Limit your showers to five minutes and relax in the sun instead of in the shower!
Plant a native groundcover
For your outdoor water use, plant a regionally native groundcover that doesn’t require the same level of irrigation as a grassy lawn. Get creative with vines, wildflowers and hearty shrubs or ferns. Choose plants that will look great and thrive in the natural weather conditions of your area. Springtime is the best time to take advantage of your green thumb!