But there are a few things that I do. And it's my understanding -- or at least my justification -- that every little bit helps.
Here are some of the environmentally responsible things I do:
- I turn off the water while brushing my teeth.
- We have low-flow toilets in two of our three bathrooms (the third is a non-standard size and low-flow isn't an option there).
- We have low-flow shower heads in two of the three bathrooms (again, low-flow won't work in the third).
- I take showers instead of baths. FYI from the EPA: A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, but taking a five-minute shower saves water by using 10 to 25 gallons.
- We have absolutely no grass that needs watering on our property. I could pretend we chose to xeriscape, but the home came that way. (Well, we did remove the smidgen that was in the back yard, so we did do our part. Yay!)
- Because we have no grass to water, we also have no grass in need of mowing, so we help out there by not using fuel and not contributing to air pollution.
- Another benefit of having no grass is that we don't fertilize it. EPA FYI: Fertilizer runoff can pollute rivers, lakes, and bays, and cause problems in recreational areas or fishing grounds.
- I don't use the car every day of the week. Okay, it's because I work from home for the most part, but it still counts in my book. EPA FYI: Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year.
- We use Energy Star appliances ... and take advantage of any e-cycles on any of them, such as for the dishwasher and clothes washer.
- We recycle electronics by sending old cell phones out for use by deployed military folks, bringing old computers to an electronics recycling center, etc.
- We poop scoop, disposing of the dog (and cat) doo in places that won't contaminate stormwater ... unless Mickey has an accident on our walk when he's not supposed to and I didn't bring scooping gear. EPA FYI: Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria or organic material to wash into the storm drain and eventually into local water bodies.
- When we travel, we opt out of daily linen changes. We hang our towels to reuse a second time and we don't have the sheets changed each day.
- We pay for a recycling service to pickup our recyclables instead of throwing them in the garbage.
- We unplug appliances and such (can opener, lamps, etc) that aren't in use as plugged-in appliances still use energy even when they're off.
- We're slowly but surely migrating from regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent lighting throughout the house. EPA FYI: If every American home replaced just one conventional light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes a year.
- Our thermostat is on a timer so less heat is used at night. (Unfortunately we no longer have A/C but when we did, it was also on a timer.)
- Although I don't use reusable market bags for grocery shopping, we do re-use all of our plastic grocery bags -- to line our wastebaskets, for holding the doo when poop-scooping is done, and more.
Now that I look at it, it seems like I do a lot, which just goes to show that it's not that difficult, costly or time-consuming to do your part. Like I said, every little bit helps -- and adds up.
What's one or two environmentally responsible things you do around your home?