Easy and Inexpensive Tips to Get You Going Green

Easy and Inexpensive Tips to Get You Going Green

Going green can seem like a daunting task – costly and time consuming home upgrades, new cars that don’t use fossil fuels, organic foods and fabrics – deciding just where to get started and how much you can afford to do can sometimes intimidate those new to the environmental awareness scene. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few inexpensive and easy changes that will make you more eco-friendly.

Hone Your Recycling Habits

One of the easiest ways to decrease your environmental impact is to recycle. The practice of recycling has been around for many years, and is growing in popularity all the time. More and more communities are offering curbside recycling, multiple recycling drop-off facilities, electronics recycling, and incentives like bottle return funds, to increase participation. This being said, it is quite surprising that many people still don’t recycle as much as they could, with many recyclable materials ending up in landfills every year instead.

Taking this first step is as simple as setting up a recycling bin in your garage or basement – or even right next to your garbage can as a visual reminder – and tossing in all your aluminum, plastic, glass, paper and cardboard. Many facilities no longer even require you to sort your items, which makes the process even easier. And unlike landfills, which charge fees based on the weight of your trash, most recycling facilities cost you nothing to use. Just remember, with recycling, practice makes perfect; the more you do it, the easier and more habitual it becomes!

Tip: Once you get comfortable recycling your everyday items, aim for the bigger stuff. Many communities offer specific days to bring in appliances and electronics for recycling. Several companies even recycle their own electronics, and finding out which companies offer this option is as simple as looking online, or calling the company’s toll free customer service number. And lots of facilities also take things like paint, batteries, and oil too, so find out what your options are!

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Reducing your energy consumption can sound like a major task, but you don’t have to make a bunch of big changes all at once. Start with a simple switch: the light switch. Reducing your energy use can be as easy as turning off the lights.

  • Take advantage of the outdoors by opening the blinds, making use of natural light so there’s no need for artificial lighting during the day.
  • Make sure the lights are off each time you leave the room, even if you intend to return shortly; according to the BC Hydro website “for most home lighting, there is no extra energy draw when a light is switched on. While fluorescent lamps do use a tiny bit more upon start-up, if the light is off for more than five seconds, you’ll save energy”.

As with recycling, practice makes perfect; if you get into the habit of turning off the lights each time you leave a room, eventually it will become an unconscious action – you’ll be helping the environment without even having to think about it!

Tip: Having trouble remembering to switch off every time? Place a sticky note on lamp bases, and next to the light switches in your house as a visual reminder.

Take advantage of the outdoors by opening the blinds
Take advantage of the outdoors by opening the blinds

Reduce your Paper Trail

With the popularity of online banking, billing and electronic communications these days, you have another easy way to be eco-friendly; opting out of receiving paper copies of bills and bank statements, and paying bills online instead of mailing cheques, creates less opportunity for waste, and can save you a few dollars a month in stamps and paper. Even if you recycle conscientiously, its better to avoid using the paper altogether when you have the opportunity to do so, and since the technology is out there, you might as well use it!

Tip: If you’re not set up for online banking, it’s easy to do, and most banks charge you nothing to sign up; in fact, since many banks charge you for the paper statement they send you each month, opting to bank online instead of receiving those statements can save you a few extra dollars in bank fees too!

Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. By starting with a few simple changes that don’t cost you a thing, you can reduce your impact on the environment. Once you’ve started with the basics, taking on more elaborate eco-challenges – like reducing water consumption by installing low-flow faucets or creatively repurposing old items to give them new life – won’t seem so impossible. And even if these basic steps are as far as you go on your green quest, you’ll still be helping the environment a little bit every day, and that’s something to feel good about!

Gina Jessop
Written by: Gina Jessop