How we live matters. Our lives affect one another and the entirety of the world around us. From our daily routines to how we care for our homes and families, we are making an impact on the planet one day at a time. So, to round out this year, we encourage you to take a look at the way you’re living and fully dive into whether or not you are eco-friendly on a consistent and purposeful basis.
Did you know that only about 40% of the US population uses eco-friendly and sustainable products in their daily lives? The good news is that nearly ¾ of people want to learn how to live more sustainably. With the biggest overall concerns being climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity in the ecosystem, more and more Americans, and humans in general, are starting to face the music and transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.
As a sustainable backpack company that strongly believes in saving the planet, we, at Product of the North, know that small changes in your everyday life can make a significant impact on the world we share.
33 Eco-Friendly Home Tips to Help you Live More Sustainably
We couldn’t think of a better way to save the planet than by deciding to go green. We understand that an entire lifestyle revamp is nearly impossible overnight. Still, we believe small, conscious changes every day can lead to more impactful changes for our planet in the long run.
The most significant benefit of adopting a sustainable lifestyle is the direct impact on the environment. By living sustainably, you are reducing your carbon footprint, decreasing your energy costs, improving your health, and preserving the world for all of our future generations.
While we don’t see any significant drawbacks to going green, the biggest concerns often lie in the cost of switching over to a sustainable lifestyle and the amount of time and energy it takes to do so. We are confident, though, that going green will improve your life in countless ways.
There are many ways to change your current habits (and impact!) and start your journey to going green today, from energy consumption, water usage, and emissions to food, paper, and plastic.
Explore some of our favorite ways to live more sustainably today.
Energy: Renewable Energy Tips
Energy consumption is a significant factor in how well you are living a sustainable life. With numerous ways to reduce your energy usage and eliminate energy waste, we believe it is essential to consider your current energy consumption impact and precisely what you and your family can do to decrease your overall energy waste.
There are many ways to use less energy to perform your standard daily tasks without interruption to reach optimal energy efficiency. The best part about reducing your energy consumption is that, by doing so, you’re also reducing your use of fossil fuels.
Here are some of our favorite, easy ways to reduce your energy usage almost immediately.
1. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water
One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy usage is to wash your clothes in cold water. When washing with hot water, about 90% of the energy is used to heat the water.
Although most think that the only way to get out stains, sanitize, and deep-clean clothes are to wash them in hot water, warm or cold settings will perform just as well.
If you are a fan of hot water or deal with oily or extremely stained clothes, opt for the warm water setting instead. This small change will reduce your energy by nearly 50%. Otherwise, always opt for the cold water setting, which will reduce it even more.
2. Dry Clothes on a Clothesline
We understand the convenience that comes with major appliances in today’s world. For example, throwing your wet clothes in a dryer can get them ready to go in an hour or less, but the energy consumption involved in this process can be shocking.
Although spanning a wide range of wattages, the average electric dryer utilizes about 3,000 watts of electricity per cycle. Multiplied by a handful of laundry days per week, drying your clothes can play a significant role in your overall energy waste. Therefore, instead of using your dryer, we encourage you to hang dry your clothes whenever possible.
We understand that life can be filled with busy tasks requiring a quick wash and dry, but plan out your laundry days ahead of time when possible, so you provide yourself ample time to wash and then hang dry your clothes. Whether you have a big backyard or a smaller apartment, a hanging clothesline or standalone clothes hanger can be used.
3. Swap Regular Light Bulbs for LED Bulbs
When’s the last time you gave your home lighting a facelift? In this case, we aren’t asking you to redesign your light fixtures; instead, we encourage you to swap out all of your regular light bulbs for LED bulbs.
The most energy-efficient lighting option, LED bulbs are more durable, last longer, and help to reduce your energy consumption compared to standard bulbs. In fact, LED bulbs last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs while using 75% less energy.
Another plus? LED bulbs emit only a tiny amount of heat when compared to its counterpart. 90% of the energy used by standard incandescent light bulbs comes from heat expenditure.
4. Turn Off Lights When Leaving a Room
Although this tip may feel like a no-brainer to some, it is a useful and easy way to reduce your energy usage with immediate results. When performed individually, there may not be a significant impact seen, but if adopted as a household practice, your energy usage and electrical bill will change almost instantly.
Talk to your family and friends about the importance of turning off lights when leaving a room. Only use lights when needed, such as when you lack natural light or need the brightness to perform a task and keep them off otherwise. Never keep lights on when you leave your home.
Depending on the size of your home, the number of lights normally kept on, and the type of bulbs used, you could quickly reduce your monthly bill by $100 or more.
5. Install a Programmable or “Smart” Thermostat
As technology continues to advance, we see an increase in the availability of eco-friendly focused, smart devices. One way to move to a more sustainable home is to change your current thermostats with a programmable or smart thermostat. With options that can be accessed from your Smartphone or computer, smart thermostats have been proven to reduce energy consumption by as much as 25% or more.
One of the main benefits, outside of energy savings, is the convenience of connection. Providing alerts and notifications directly to you, whether you’re home or away, helps you stay in control of your home’s temperature and usage at all times. Minor drawbacks include the cost of installation and the initial learning curve for new users. Prices range from $200-$500 for setup and installation.
6. Install Blackout Curtains
An easy and affordable energy-saving option for your home includes the use of blackout curtains. Depending on the construction of your home, anywhere from 10-25% of thermal energy can be lost through the windows.
Blackout curtains have been proven to reduce your energy bill and consumption by at least 25%. Great to keep the warmth in during the winter and cool during the summer, blackout curtains help you regulate your home’s temperature more efficiently.
7. Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
When’s the last time you unplugged electronics that weren’t being used in your home? Your television, computers, video gaming systems, smart devices, and other electronics can play a huge role in your overall energy consumption, even when they’re not technically in use by you.
You can save as much as $200 a year by unplugging your electronics consistently. If this seems overwhelming to you, consider focusing on one room at a time or specific times of the day when you know they won’t be in use. Little steps can go a long way.
8. Switch to Energy Efficient Appliances
Opting for energy-efficient appliances is a simple way to ensure you make the most of your energy usage while minimizing energy waste. Saving energy helps you save money in the long run. Switching to energy-efficient appliances can save you nearly $500 or more per year on your energy bills.
Whether you’re in the market for new appliances or hoping to switch out your current ones for more energy-efficient options, look for the Energy Star logo to signify that particular appliance’s commitment to reduce energy consumption.
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, if we all increase our energy efficiency by about 20% on all major appliances, we’ll work to release the need for excessive electricity by approximately 25 large power plants. Imagine what an impact that could have on our planet.
Water: Waste Not, Want Not
Drought is a leading effect of climate change and affects more people than ever throughout the world, especially in the western United States. Faced with drought conditions earlier and earlier each year, states like California are looking at ways to reduce their water footprint and overall consumption in a big way- something we should all take note of.
Although drought is a natural hazard, the way we are handling water consumption does not afford us the means to prepare and provide for ourselves when droughts hit. Learning how to reduce our water waste and overall footprint can significantly impact the world’s water supply.
9. Install a Low-Flow Shower Head
Daily showers are one of the leading causes of water usage in our homes, especially with a large family. Consuming nearly ⅕ of overall household water usage, showers can play a massive role in the amount of water we use daily, weekly, and monthly.
The average person uses between 80-100 gallons of water each day. Standard shower heads account for 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Replacing your standard shower head with a low-flow shower head can save nearly 3,000 gallons of water per year. Running under $100 a head, this is an inexpensive way to save water and money.
10. Install Low-Flow Toilet
The most used water source in the home, toilets, account for nearly 30% of all water usage. Using anywhere from 5-6 gallons per flush, standard toilets are incredibly inefficient at conserving water. Low-flow toilets have dialed down the amount of water per flush to under 1.5 gallons, a significant difference compared to the latter.
Replacing older toilets in your home with low-flow toilets can save you about 13,000 gallons of water per year and around $200 in water cost. Although a pricer sustainable-friendly option, the benefits outweigh the cost of replacement.
11. Fix Dripping or Leaking Faucets
Did you realize that the average household leak from a dripping or leaking faucet can account for over 100,000 gallons of water wasted every year? As a nation, that is over 1 trillion gallons a year. That fact is mind-blowing and something to pay full attention to, especially if you have a leak in your home right now.
Check your toilets, sinks, and exposed water pipes regularly to ensure no leaks throughout your home. If you discover a leak, work to replace the worn area in your sink or toilet or contact a local plumbing company to help. What seems like a small problem can account for a significant loss.
12. Take Shorter Showers
The average shower is approximately 8 minutes. A 10-minute shower uses roughly 25 gallons of water, while a 20-minute one accounts for nearly 50 gallons. If you’ve grown accustomed to lingering in the shower for a moment of peace, we hope you reconsider.
Instead, opt for shorter shower times to use less water. This helps the planet and your water bill.
Plus, you’ll have more time to focus on other essential things in the morning, like picking the perfect sustainable-friendly outfit or enjoying your favorite cup of coffee sans the rush.
13. Stop Buying Bottled Water & Buy a Water Filter
Bottled water is harmful to the environment. According to The Water Project, nearly 80% of all single-use water bottles become litter and take over 1,000 years to biodegrade.
Did you know that only PET-specific water bottles can be recycled? All others are thrown from the recycling bin to the standard trash can. Only 1 in 5 plastic water bottles are recycled. On top of the waste from the actual bottle, it takes about 3 liters of water to fill a 1-liter bottle, causing more waste than drinkable water.
Nix the single-use water bottle habit and buy a water filter with reusable water bottles and containers. As part of your standard refrigerator, built into the piping or attached to your faucet, water filters work to filter out clean, drinking water. Needing to be replaced every couple of months depending on usage, this option is environmentally friendly, low-cost, and low-maintenance.
14. Collect Rainwater
Rainwater harvesting is an up-and-coming option for many American families across the country. This free water source is cost-effective for you and your family while being a tremendous sustainable source from the planet.
You can supply your household with the water it needs by collecting run-off water from a specific structure into a simple rainwater collection bin. From simple setups to elaborately constructed systems, rainwater collection is an excellent option for families of all sizes.
An added benefit? It’s wholly autonomous and does not ever fall under city limitations or bans on water usage during times of drought. This option is inexpensive and practical for the family hoping to make a giant environmental impact.
Food: Sustainable Eating Practices
Over 108 billion pounds of food are wasted each year in the United States. That equates to almost 40% of all food in the entire country.
With food waste becoming a standard normal throughout homes and restaurants, it’s time to take a stand against food waste and choose more sustainable eating practices in your daily life.
15. Eat Less Meat
If you’re looking to change your eating habits for a better tomorrow, start eating less meat. If we all ate less meat and dairy products, we would use around 75% less land for agricultural needs worldwide. Aside from the direct impact on the land, eating less meat would lead to fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Journal of Scientific Reports, if everyone in the country reduced their beef, pork, and chicken consumption by 25%, we’d save approximately 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year.
Consider choosing vegetarian foods that are high in protein to supplement your overall protein intake. Some good options include beans, seeds, grains, leafy green vegetables, and quinoa.
16. Grow Your Own Food
There is nothing better than a homemade meal. The same is true when it comes to growing your own food. Growing your own food is possible whether you’re living on a large plot of land or in a quaint studio apartment. Join a local farm share, gardening share, or start a garden near your home with your favorite staple fruits and vegetables.
Choosing to grow your own food has a positive impact on the planet while reducing your exposure to unhealthy pesticides and toxins that can be found on big-box produce.
17. Have Groceries Delivered
As grocery delivery services become more popular than ever due to the onset of the pandemic, we are glad to say that this option is best for the planet. Instead of going back and forth to the store whenever you need something, consider scheduling grocery deliveries on a weekly or monthly basis.
Benefits include in-app only savings, doorstep delivery, the ability to peruse the aisles on your phone, and notifications when an item is out of stock with suggested substitutions.
The only minor drawbacks are that some grocery store delivery services charge a fee per delivery. In contrast, others require a monthly delivery fee membership, even if you don’t use the app.
18. Start Composting
A great option to help the planet while keeping on top of your waste is composting. Whether you decide to compost outdoors or indoors, it is beneficial to enrich the soil, reduce the need for fertilizers that may include harmful chemicals, and lower your carbon footprint. You can compost a variety of things from fruits and vegetables to paper, cardboard, and newspapers.
Emissions: Lower Your Carbon Footprint
29% of all carbon emissions come from transportation in the United States. With a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and standard gas-powered vehicles, we can reduce our carbon footprint astronomically, making the world a cleaner, better place for the future of our children and grandchildren.
19. Start Biking or Walking
If you find yourself stuck in the daily morning commute 5-6 days a week hoping for a more effortless and more exhilarating experience, we may just have one for you that saves the planet, too.
Consider hanging up your car keys and strapping on your bike helmet or lacing up your tennis shoes to head to work a different way. Make this change a few times a week. Not only will this help reduce carbon emissions, but you will also reap the benefits of regular exercise and feel more awake throughout your workday.
Although this option provides many benefits, we understand that this option is not feasible for everyone depending on location and outside weather conditions.
20. Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure
Ensuring your car’s tires are adequately inflated will help with overall fuel efficiency. Most cars come with digital read options that you can view as you drive. If yours doesn’t, use a manual tire pressure reader and fill up any low tire promptly.
Under-inflated tires can reduce gas mileage by about 0.2% for every psi it is under.
21. Work Remotely / Work From Home
Since the onset of the pandemic, working from home has been the new normal for most of the world. Working remotely is also an excellent long-term option to help the planet thrive by reducing daily commutes and carbon dioxide emissions.
On average, a person could save as much as $5000 a year working from home, which is a great benefit for your bottom line.
Paper: Save More Trees
About 1 billion trees worth of paper is thrown away each year in the United States. Each person uses about 680 pounds of paper. Reducing your carbon footprint starts with reducing paper products in your daily life, office, and home.
22. Switch to Online Bill Paying
With so many companies providing the option for online bill pay and electronic statements, there is no longer a need to receive excessive paper bills in the mail each year.
Reduce your paper usage by switching all of your bills and statements to an electronic status and use your email inbox to organize them by type.
23. Use Rags Instead of Paper Towels
Another way to reduce your paper usage is to opt for rags instead of paper towels. Often, paper towels are only suitable for one use, and you have to use a handful of them to clean up a mess properly. Instead, use one rag to clean up and dry surfaces and objects. After it’s been used to capacity, throw it in the washer and clean it in a cold water setting.
24. Switch to Cloth Napkins
Much like paper towels, paper napkins are almost instantly wasteful. Instead of filling your home with paper napkins, opt for reusable cloth napkins that can be easily washed and used again and again by your family. This small change will go a long way in reducing the amount of paper in landfills.
25. Switch to Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper
The average American uses over 140 rolls of toilet paper each year. Multiply that by a family of 5, and you’re quickly closing in on 1,000 rolls of toilet paper per home. Standard toilet paper is most commonly made from softwood pulp taken directly from the trees throughout our forests.
Aside from the material, producing a single roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water and electricity to run the whole production. Often, harsh chemicals like chlorine are added to the toilet paper making it harmful for our bodies and the environment.
Switching to eco-friendly toilet paper reduces the strain on the forests, decreases the amount of water used, and focuses on sustainable operations to produce toilet paper at a lower carbon footprint. The next time you grab a roll, switch it out with the eco-friendly counterpart. The cost difference is not noticeable.
Plastic: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Oh, plastic. The pinnacle bad guy on our quest to save this glorious planet. We’ve all heard it time and time again: plastic is the root of all evil when it comes to being an eco-friendly world. Plastic harms humans, animals, and the planet by emitting harmful and toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.
It can take hundreds of years for plastic products to biodegrade.
Worldwide, we produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year, half being single-use items. This number is continuing to rise as the years go on and must be addressed relatively quickly for the good of the planet.
26. Buy Sustainable Products
To reduce the number of plastic items created every year, we as a human race must choose to purchase safe and sustainable products. We have to make a conscious effort to nix the plastic. Consider buying eco-friendly household goods, clothing made from sustainable materials, and staple pieces, like Product of the North’s diaper bags, that are made with the beauty of sustaining the Earth in mind, using all sustainably sourced materials.
27. Get a Recycling Bin
Recycling bins are a low-cost option to include throughout your home. Instead of just housing one in the kitchen, consider adding them to any area of your home that typically generates waste and recyclables like an office, bathroom, or bedroom. Be sure to follow your city’s recycling guidelines to ensure all items you are placing in the bin will be appropriately recycled and not discarded for incorrect placement.
28. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
Americans use nearly 100 billion plastic bags each year. This is having a significant impact on our planet from production to disposal. Instead of choosing to use standard plastic bags, bring your reusable bags on your shopping trips. The decrease in demand, over time, will lead to a reduction in production for the future.
29. Stop Using Plastic Straws
Big box retailers and major restaurants are beginning to shy away from the use of plastic straws based on their negative impact on the planet. If you haven’t yet, you should do the same.
Straws alone make up about 4% of all plastic waste, and many end up in the ocean, causing harm to our sea life. Instead, choose reusable silicone or metal straws that can be washed and used for an extended period.
30. Use Homemade Cleaning Products
Often, store-bought cleaning products are riddled with toxic chemicals that can harm your family and the planet. The next time you need to clean your home, avoid name-brand options and make your cleaning products at home. Key ingredients include baking soda, castile soap, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and borax.
31. Use a Reusable Water Bottle
Did you know that a family of 4 can save over $20,000 a year by using a reusable water bottle over a single-use option? Not only is the cost savings incredible, but the impact on the planet is too. One reusable bottle saves nearly 1,500 single-use counterparts. At an inexpensive cost of under $20, this option helps the world more than most realize.
32. Use a Reusable Insulated Coffee Mug
Like a reusable water bottle, reusable coffee mugs replace the need for plastic or styrofoam cups harmful to the environment. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing a reusable insulated coffee mug at a low price. The bonus? You’re also saving yourself extra money by making your coffee at home.
33. Use Cloth Diapers
On average, a baby can go through over 2,000 diapers in their first year. This does not account for the one to two years following that diapers may be required. With most made with toxic chemicals and non-environmentally-friendly materials, the amount of waste this accounts for is extensive.
Instead of choosing disposable diapers, cloth diapers may be a better choice for your family. They reduce your carbon footprint, are reusable and washable, do not come with harsh chemicals, and not end up in landfills. Often, cloth diapers are sized more openly to grow with your child than standard disposal diapers, which is another benefit.
A minor drawback may be washing them often, but this is still better for the environment than tossing them away.
Wrapping up our List of 33 Eco-Friendly Home Tips
Whether you’re someone who has been working to reduce your carbon footprint over time or are hoping to help the planet and environment starting now, these tips are great for any level of sustainability.
We encourage you to focus on your lifestyle choices, be conscious of your interactions with the world around you and choose products, foods, and goods that are healthy for your body and wonderful to the planet. We only have one world; let’s take care of Her together.