It's Earth Day! Do you know what your carbon footprint is? While greener lifestyles are definitely on the rise, we can all always do a little more to help tackle environmental issues. Just ask Leonardo DiCaprio. The good news: Even small changes add up to a big difference with time. But some of the most common ideas associated with a more eco-friendly lifestyle—that it's challenging, inconvenient, and even more expensive to maintain than our standard lives—are misconceptions. Going green is a great investment and can actually save you big bucks in the long run. Below, we've pulled together five near-effortless lifestyle tweaks to prove it.
Ditch the Meat
Approximately 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from farming livestock (mainly beef), according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Don’t have a cow, though! You don’t need to completely remove the meat from your diet. But swapping out a day or two for more veggie-friendly (usually cheaper) options will contribute to decreasing those emissions, save you money, and do your arteries a favor.
Leave the Car in the Garage
It’s no secret that emissions from cars have contributed significantly to the greenhouse gas and global warming issue. The obvious solution? Drive less. Public transportation is your friend and was designed to make your commutes easier (most of the time, at least). The money you’ll spend on a monthly bus or subway pass is minimal compared to what you’ll save on gas. If you’re not located in a big city with a thriving public transportation network, driving might be your only option. Creating a rotating carpool group for getting to and from work, or even for nights out on the town will contribute more than you think to decreasing dangerous emissions.
Go with Glass
We’re probably not the first people to tell you to break the plastic water bottle habit, but here’s another reminder. According to the Columbia Water Center, 80 percent of recyclable plastic bottles end up in landfills every year, where they release harmful toxins as they decompose. Not to mention buying all of that fancy water eventually adds up. Skip the strain on the environment and your wallet, and use this as an excuse to buy a chic glass bottle like this one from Lifefactory to tote around.
Lose the Traditional Lights
Classic incandescent light bulbs use more energy than energy-efficient bulbs, like halogen and LED. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, simply switching five of your most common bulbs with those that meet the strict efficiency guidelines set by the organization (look for the Energy Star label) can reduce your home’s energy use and save you serious money (about $70 per year) on your electric bill. And if you really want to step up your light game, consider a smart bulb (yes, that’s a real thing). ilumi Smartbulbs, which last up to 20 years, are not only six times more energy efficient than classic bulbs, but they come with fancy features like the ability to simulate a sunrise in the morning and sync with your party music at night.
Keep Your Laundry Cool
Between washing and drying clothing, laundry is a major energy and water suck. Forget what you thought you knew about laundering and start washing all of your clothes in cold water. The majority of the energy expended washing your clothes in warm or hot water goes to simply heating the water. Then skip the dryer and try hang drying some of your clothes. You don’t necessarily need to line dry in the country wind, either (so retro, though). There are many drying rack options out there like this and this. Your delicates and your energy bill, again, will thank you.