The effects of the climate crisis appear in many facets of our lives including our worsening air quality, rise in global temperatures and sea levels, and natural disasters such as wildfires, droughts, and floods. It can feel daunting to try to make a difference, but we can all take small steps to make an impact and mitigate these effects, even if it’s not ‘your’ home. We’ve all grown up hearing and reading about “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, but what does it mean in practice? If you’re interested in making a difference but don’t know where to start, there are a handful of ways to “greenify” your apartment and/or dorm
2. Turn off the water. Did you know that 5 gallons of water are wasted if you leave the water running when you brush your teeth? By simply turning off the faucet, you can save water and reduce your bills. The same goes for turning off the water when you’re doing dishes and during your showers. Use less. Pay less. If you want to go a step further, you can try a cold water shower! According to the Department of Energy, water heating accounts for 18% of a home’s energy use!
3. Use a Fan. It can be tempting to use the AC when it gets hot, but instead, investing in a fan will save you 99% of the energy compared to using an AC unit.
4. Unplug your devices - many of them use energy even when not in use! This is called phantom load. If you’re sharing a space, you can post a reminder by the door to remind them to turn off electronics and appliances when they are not in use. Invest in a couple power strips to make this easier.
5. Go Solar. You don’t have to invest in solar panels on a home to switch to renewable energy. There are many small scale solar products that can help you start the transition to renewable sources of energy without breaking the bank. For example, the nonprofit Unite to Light sells Chandler Chargers that can keep your cell phone charged with just the power of the sun. They are lightweight and portable so that you never have to search for an open outlet again! As a bonus, for every item purchased, Unite to Light will donate one to someone who is living without electricity - lighting the world and reducing emissions from kerosene lamps and diesel generators.
2. Cook at home. Eating out less will reduce waste and using oven alternatives when cooking at home (microwave, toaster oven, slow cooker, pressure cooker, air fryer) will use considerably less energy.
3. Start your compost pile. To prevent food waste when cooking, composting is a great idea to consider. Since 1970, global greenhouse gas emissions from waste have nearly doubled and half of it is caused by the “fermentation of solid waste disposal on land.” Try finding local Co-Ops or other organizations that offer composting sites.
4. Cut back on single use items. Other ways to minimize your carbon footprint include reducing single use items like plastic bags, paper products, silverware and water bottles by investing in reusable items and carrying them with you. In 2019, 368 million metric tons of plastic was produced at the global level and only 18% of plastic is recycled.
2. Invest in reusable items. Buying reusable items like tapestries and paintings are one time purchases that can last you a long time. Decorating with houseplants is a literal symbol for a green life that will offer you beauty and better quality of air. When the months grow colder, adding rugs and blankets around the house will not only appear aesthetically pleasing but it will lessen heater use.
3. Keep your cleaning supplies clean. To offer a clean yet safe space, using natural cleaning products or making your own are biodegradable, cheap, and cause less allergies. There are a handful of cleaning products you can make at home with ingredients that you already have!
While we might not be able to implement all of these practices in our day to day life at once, adopting even one of them and educating our friends and family on how they can do better can have an enormous impact on reducing climate change. Unite to Light is an advocate for transformation into eco-friendly citizens, and we encourage everyone to work together to help our planet.