With global warming hitting the headlines in full force lately, people are realizing just how much our daily lifestyle needs and choices are contributing to environmental changes. Even so, there are many people who have been overwhelmed by the idea of adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle, either not knowing where to begin or thinking that all those eco-friendly products will cost a fortune. But in reality, it is easy being green—giving the planet a helping hand is just a matter of making one simple change at a time. Even if you’re not ready to commit to fully embracing a sustainable way of living, there are plenty of easy, practical habits that you can adopt that’ll make a positive impact on the planet without changing your lifestyle. Truth is that it really comes back to the 3R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. If you’re just starting out, here is a list of simple, doable actions that any lazy activist can do. Look through and start with the changes that seem the most effortless.
KITCHEN & DINING
1. Use cloth napkins
Each year, millions of pounds of trash end up in our landfills, and some of this trash finds its way into nature and our ocean, causing trouble for wildlife. Although it means you’ll have to wash them right after every meal, you’ll produce less trash save plenty of money over the years by going through fewer paper products with cloth napkins. Plus, they look so much fancier than paper napkins!
2. Avoid processed foods
Look for foods with minimal chemicals and processing, as well as those that are organic and GMO-free. They are better for the environment, and for your health too. Processed foods require more energy to produce and package than whole, single-ingredient foods.
3. Use a pressure cooker
The pressure cooker is a great appliance to save time, money, and energy all at the same time. Pressure cookers can take up to 70% less time (and less energy) to cook a meal. If you’re ever intimidated to use one, it is actually very versatile! Use them to make soups, pot roast, whole chickens and chili.
4. Cook with residual heat
Turning off the oven five minutes before the meal is ready will allow the food to continue cooking while also saving some energy. It’s even easier with pasta: Once the pot’s been boiling for five minutes, cover the pot, switch off the stove, and let it sit for five more minutes. The pasta will be cooked al dente in less than 10 minutes.
5. Grow your own
Growing your own vegetables is a great way to save money and be eco-friendly at the same time. If you don’t have any outside space, you can use individual pots.
6. Eat less meat
Meat production, especially beef, is extremely taxing on the earth and creates an amount of carbon waste. According to FAO, raising livestock is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all of the world’s transportation sources combined. If you can’t commit to a plant-based diet yet, make it a habit to go meat-free for two or three days a week. This can have quite a significant impact on reducing your carbon footprint.
7. Don’t waste food
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Indonesia is the world’s second largest food waster, with nearly 300 kilograms of food per person each year. This isn’t just a huge waste of food and money, it adds to the amount of CO2 being created in landfills. A lot of the waste takes place in supermarkets and restaurants, but you can help out by only buying what you need, saving or freezing leftovers, and repurposing scraps.
Instead of throwing scraps down the drain or in the trash where they’re trucked to a landfill, its best to compost them. Not only will this help create a natural fertiliser, it’ll also reduce the amount of waste going to landfill—and as it won’t break down anaerobically, there will not be a build-up of methane gas.
9. Ditch single-use plastic
Ditch single-use plastics such as grocery bags, food packaging, straws, coffee stirrers, cups and cutleries. While the temptation of having nothing to wash up after a meal is hard to resist, increasing the pile of garbage left after dinner is no way to help the planet. Always bring your own bag to carry your groceries home and say “no” to straws or plastic bags.
10. Support organic farmers
Unlike conventional products, organic products are free of pesticides residue. These toxins are not easily purged from your body and can compromise your immune system over time. Organic farming is also better for the soil, water source, bees, and wildlife.
11. Become friends with your toaster oven
Toaster ovens are a lot cheaper and less wasteful in energy than conventional ones. They’re also faster, requiring no “pre-heating” unlike those clunky conventional ovens. In fact, using smaller versions of traditional appliances is always cheaper, faster, and more environmentally friendly.
12. Buy a plant for your home
Get a few living air purifiers aka indoor plants. Plants can remove toxins from the air, absorb carbon dioxide, increase humidity—plus, they will liven up your home too.
13. Opt for reusable water bottles
Bottled water is incredibly wasteful on so many levels: an estimated 80 percent of them don’t get recycled and because of the plastic production process, it takes three times the amount of water in a water bottle to produce just one. It generates an enormous of plastic waste. According to a Study by the University of Georgia, an estimated 3.22 million metric tons of plastic waste is tossed annually into the ocean surrounding Indonesia. Invest in a nice, BPA-free water bottle to save money, reduce plastic waste, and motivate your to drink water more for a healthier body.
14. Install low-flow showerheads
Change any high-flow showerheads to the newer low-flow types. A few years ago, shower heads deliver about 5-8 gallons of water per minute! The ones available today will give you an invigorating shower while using only half or a third of the water as old designs, which means big savings on the water bill. It saves water, and today’s versions offer just as much pressure.
15. Install high-efficiency or dual-flush toilets
Toilets have gone from using 7 gallons of water per flush to 5 gallons, then 3, and now some new high-efficiency models use just 1.3 gallons or less. If you have a toilet that was installed before 1992, replacing it will save thousands of gallons a year.
16. Run dishwashers and washing machines full
Another energy-saving habit is to run your dishwasher only when it’s full—no half loads. Many new dishwasher are very good at cleaning dishes that have only been scraped (not pre-rinsed). Newer washing machines have options for smaller loads when needed too. Otherwise, wash loads as full as possible.
17. Buy water-efficient appliances
When you need new appliances, buy ones that are energy efficient and conserve water, such as front-loading washing machines and low-water-use dishwashers.
18. Repair that leaky faucet
Those little drops of water can waste up to 140 gallons of water a week—that’s a pretty big dent in the utilities bill. People are often unaware of leaks, so make a note to check all fixtures, including pipes under sinks, regularly.
19. Turn off the tap
It’s an all-too-common habit to leave the tap running while washing your face, brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, and so on. Changing small habits, such as brushing your teeth without leaving the water running, can save two or three gallons of water each time you brush your pearly whites.
20. Take shorter showers
We all love the feeling of a nice, steamy shower, but five minutes is really all we need. A tremendous amount of water can be saved each year by not wasting time letting the shower water run.
21. Cover your pool when it’s not in use
Not only will it keep water from evaporating and prevent the need for refills, but the pool will also stay cleaner. Covering the pool, especially with a solar cover, will also reduce the need to run the pool’s heater.
22. Use water twice
Wash rice, fruits and vegetables in a large bowl and save the runoff for watering the garden or little potted plants. The same thing can be done after boiling pasta or potatoes—just make sure the water’s not salted!
23. Use CFL/LED light bulbs
Not only do these light bulbs last longer than conventional bulbs, they’re far more efficient too! Like most eco-friendly appliances, they’re more expensive up front, but they use a quarter of the energy and last 10 times longer—so the steeper cost will more than pay for itself.
24. Utilize natural light
Why waste electricity in your house or workplace, when all you need to do is open the blinds and you’ve got light.
25. Don’t drive
If you can make the journey by foot, bike, or public transport, then do it. Driving isn’t very eco-friendly and can really add to your carbon footprint. It saves gas and means fewer cars on the road—which means less carbon emissions.
26. Drive slower
We know that taking public transport sometimes isn’t quite doable in Indonesia. When you have to drive, make sure that you get the most out of your vehicle by keeping the speed down, ensuring tyres are properly inflated and that the engine is running smoothly. It will help with your fuel consumption.
17. Install solar panels
Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun. Installing solar panels on your home helps combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduces our collective dependence on fossil fuel.
28. Watch those windows
When running air conditioning, keep all windows and doors closed as tight as possible so air doesn’t escape the room. When air is seeping out of a room, the air conditioner is working harder than it needs to, which means unnecessary cash and energy is being spent.
29. Stop power vampires
Also called phantom loads, power vampires come from electrical devices that suck electricity even when we think they’re turned off. Video recorders, coffee makers, computers, printers, television sets, and wall warts (AC adaptors) are the biggest suckers. Shut off all the lights before you leave in the morning, unplug electrical equipments that you’re not using and you may see a nice different in your electric bill.
30. Use laptops instead of desktops
Technology has gone so far ahead and there are many newer laptop models with specs that are sufficient for any of your design, gaming or business needs. Plus, they are very convenient and light. Laptops run on battery, so it’ll save energy since it’s not always plugged in.
31. Buy energy efficient appliances
Want to go further than simply turning it off? Make sure that the appliance you have got is as energy-efficient as possible. They may cost more money to buy initially, but they are more durable, more environmentally friendly, and will save cash on utility bills.
32. Fix it, don’t throw it
When items in your home break, try to fix them before buying a new one. Repairing or fixing something is more environmentally friendly than simply throwing things away, although the latter may seem easier and cheaper sometimes. Check out the company website, look for directions online or ask a representative for help.
33. Wash in cold water
Newer models in washing machines have made cold-water washing a highly effective option. Cold water uses significantly less energy, as the majority of energy used by a washing machine is for heating water.
34. Line dry
Set up a clothesline, hang your wet laundry and they’ll be dry in a day or two—without spiking the electricity bill.
25. Host a garage sale
While buying secondhand is a great way to save money, selling your old stuff will actually make money. Garage sales can result in more space at home and more money in your wallet.
36. Go paperless
Your favorite newspapers, magazines, and books are all available online or on your tablet and smartphone. It’s way cheaper and a lot less taxing on trees to buy e-books or secondhand ones. You can also pay your bills online, keep your calendar, to-do list, and notes digitally rather than on paper.
37. Borrow, don’t buy
Before any big purchase, think: how often will I really use this stuff? If the answer is “not a lot,” it’s better to borrow items that you will only need once or twice rather than purchasing them.
38. Buy local
From clothes to food, the closer to home these products are made and bought, the less carbon is created with their transportation. Not only that, you’ll be supporting the local economy too.
39. Buy better quality products
If you know you’re going to use a blender or a pair of black heels often, invest on those that have a really good quality to last your for years to come instead of buying cheap ones that will break down after a few use.
40. Recycling everything
Chances are that if you’re thinking about taking on a more eco-friendly lifestyle then you’ll already be recycling. From batteries to appliances to cars, recycling can go beyond paper, glass and plastic. For those living in Indonesia, take a minute to find out how to recycle your stuffs with Waste4Change.
41. Return your wire hangers
Since wire hangers aren’t viable for all recycling programs, return them to your dry cleaners when you’re done, so they can re-use them.
Re-use your newspaper, magazines, unused comics, books or brown paper grocery bags to wrap your gifts. Not only is this method environmentally friendly, it looks way cooler than store-bought wrapping paper. Get creative!
FASHION & PERSONAL CARE
43. Look into the Slow Fashion Movement
As difficult as it may seem at first, try taking a break from fast fashion and consider investing in trend-free garments that will last longer. Start implementing the movement’s biggest precept: buy fewer clothes, and less often. If you want to be edgy, look for preloved clothing at secondhand shops, vintage stores, or online.
44. Always recycle or donate clothes
Many non-profit organizations and clothing stores will gladly take your old but still good clothing for donating them to the less-fortunate or re-spun them into new fabrics Donating your unwanted clothes can keep them out of landfills.
45. Buy one less new thing a month
The more stuff we accumulate, the more stuff ends up in landfills, in rivers, and cluttering our homes.
46. Buy “natural” clothes
Always make a point to buy clothes that are made of natural fibers, like cotton, wool, silk, jute or linen. Clothes made of synthetic fabrics such as nylon, rayon, spandex, acrylic and others create plastic microfibers that are polluting the oceans. When we wash our clothes, the microfibers go down the drain and travel to the oceans, where they are swallowed by fish and other sea animals.
47. Choose your personal care wisely
When it comes to personal care there are several things you need to be careful to avoid. The first is microbeads, which are small bits of solid plastic found in face washes, body scrubs and toothpaste. They make their way into watercourses and ultimately end up damaging the ecosystem by entering the food chain. Make sure that your personal hygiene products do not contain these beads. In addition to this, avoid products that contain toxic chemicals and opt for naturally-made ones instead. Many Indonesian brands—like Sensatia Botanicals, Nicole’s Natural or Pourie—craft great beauty products containing only natural ingredients, making them safe for both you and the planet.