Living an eco-friendly life isn't as hard as it seems and the benefits far outweigh the cost.
Why Be More Eco-Friendly?
There are many reasons to be more eco-friendly: reducing your carbon footprint, saving money, and creating a more compassionate view of your company, making people more likely to return to your business.
How to Be More Eco-Friendly in Your Personal Life:
1. Opt for Paper Straws
Plastic straws are a major cause of unnecessary waste. They can take up to 200 years to decompose, whereas paper straws only take two to six weeks to decompose. That’s 1,600 times faster. Try using a paper straw next time. These green ones are a fun, eco-friendly addition to any drink.
2. Go Reusable
Use canvas or recycled plastic bags rather than single-use bags. Regular plastic bags never fully break down; they only photo-degrade, meaning they decompose into micro-pollutants. This happens after five hundred years. Before that, these bags are in the environment, where they can strangle or mistakenly be eaten by animals. Alongside the environmental benefits, reusable bags hold more and tear less easily making them a much better option.
3. Turn It Off
Power down and unplug electronics you aren't using. In the United States alone, we waste 65% of the electricity we use (according to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). Reducing this waste is simple: when you aren’t using something, turn it off or unplug it. Things like computers and TVs use power even when they’re turned off. The best way to fix this is to simply unplug them when you aren’t using them. This reduces both your carbon footprint and your energy bill.
4. Waste Less
Buy only the food you'll eat and use all the food you buy. In the US, we waste between 30% and 40% of our food supply every year (according to the USDA). Eating the food you have and throwing less of it in the trash will save you money and put less in the landfill.
5. Buy Local
Avoiding food that's been mass-produced far away and choosing the local option means there are less refrigerated trucks on the road putting harsh chemicals into the air and you're supporting the local economy.
6. Grow It Yourself
Plant a vegetable garden. Eating home-grown food means you’re not ingesting wax and harmful pesticides from mass-produced produce. You’ll also have to make fewer trips to the store, saving you a lot of money.
7. Borrow or Stream
When we borrow from the library or stream movies online rather than buying a copy, it means less goes to the landfill or comes out of your wallet. This also shows big companies that there’s less of a demand for new products. Because of the lack of demand, they’ll learn to produce less. The less excess product that’s produced, the less unnecessary waste goes to the landfill.
8. Drive Less
With fewer cars on the road, there’s significantly less pollution in the air and fossil fuels being used. People who choose other methods of transportation than driving spend less money on gas, car maintenance, and insurance. Driving less also means there are less cars on the road causing traffic-related accidents, making the roads safer for everyone. Use public transportation, ride a bike, or walk whenever you can.
9. Use Bar Soap
Not only is bar soap significantly cheaper than liquid soap, but it’s also better for the environment. Using bar soap means you aren’t using single-use plastic. It takes upwards of 450 years for plastic to decompose. After you dispose of it, it sits in the landfill or the ocean for that whole time. You can cut down on your waste by using bar soap instead.
10. Repair It
Rather than buying a new one when something breaks, repair or mend it. This means there's less waste and less cost to you.
How to Be More Eco-Friendly in Your Business:
1. Use Sustainable Packaging
Use compostable containers like these so your waste will break down easily rather than staying in the landfill indefinitely. Using containers like this shows your customers that you care about more than just money. This will give them a kinder view of your business and make them want to come back.
2. Keep it Digital
Whenever possible, keep your records digital to cut out unnecessary paper use. While paper can be recycled, reducing paper use is best because there will be fewer trees cut down to produce it. This will also save you money and space in your office because you won’t have to buy paper or have filing cabinets cluttering your area.
3. Incentivize Recycling
Give your employees and customers a reason to reuse and recycle; create loyalty programs involving rewards for bringing back old cups to refill or having contests to see who can recycle the most. This means you won’t have to buy as many cups, which will save you money. Another major bonus is that customers see businesses that care about the environment in a more compassionate light, making them more likely to return.
4. Dispose of Ink and Toner Properly
When you don't dispose of your ink and toner cartridges properly, they end up polluting the environment. The chemicals in these cartridges can poison animals and plants. The safest option is keeping them out of the environment. Places like Staples, Office Depot, and Walmart will properly dispose of these for free.
5. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
When you use regular cleaning products, especially in machinery, it puts unwanted pollutants into the air and on your equipment. Consider using cleaning products like this eco-friendly machine cleaner.
6. Do Your Research
Research and understand the companies and businesses you work with. Ask yourself if they have ethical business practices, if they treat their employees well, and if their products are responsibly sourced. Businesses with strong values consistently get more traffic and better business. If the organizations you work with don’t have values in line with yours, it shows customers that you don’t care about upholding these values and they won’t want to give you their patronage.
7. Donate, Don't Waste
When you build or renovate your business, you can donate your extra or used materials to organizations like Habitat for Humanity. Not only are you reducing waste, but you’re also doing good things in your community. This can also be considered a tax-deductible donation.
8. Reduce Water-Usage
Especially in drought-ridden places, water is a scarce and valuable resource. It's worth spending the extra time and money to fix any leaky taps or pipes. This will conserve water and save you money in the long run.
9. Recycle Electronics
Instead of throwing away your used electronic devices, donate them to local schools or charities. They always need technology. If your old devices aren't usable, both Dell and HP will recycle your old devices in exchange for credit or there are some smaller computer stores that will recycle parts.
10. Use More Efficient Lighting
Switching your lighting to LEDs rather than traditional bulbs seems like a big investment but it's worth it. LEDs contain less mercury than traditional light bulbs and they use less energy. This means they're better for the environment and cheaper to operate.
Being more eco-friendly is easy and incredibly beneficial. This means caring for our planet and saving money in the long run. It gives your business a better public image and more opportunities for tax-breaks. The cost of switching to eco-friendly options is far outweighed by the benefits. This is why you should do these simple things to make your life and your business more eco-friendly.