We only have one planet and the decisions we make each day will impact it for generations to come. Now more than ever, it is important that we all make the decision to live a more eco-friendly life.
Recently, the Zero Waste Movement, sustainable sourcing, articles on states that ban grocery bags and styrofoam, and hashtags like #plasticfree and #savetheplanet have taken the internet by storm. And, for good reason. Unfortunately, we are slowly destroying our world. But, there is hope! Our planet doesn’t need everyone doing “zero waste” perfectly. Rather, it needs millions of people imperfectly trying to live a more eco-friendly life.
If you’re in the “millions” category and are new to being intentional about your purchases and living an eco-friendly life, it can be overwhelming and difficult to figure out where to start.
Don’t worry, you’ve already taken the biggest step – making the decision to learn how you can take action to support our planet. Use this decision you’ve made as momentum for the journey ahead. Tackle the “small” pieces (that add up to enormous impact) first and use your early successes as inspiration for making bigger lifestyle changes later on.
So where should you begin? It’s up to you. Read on for 7 eco-friendly life changes that will make a huge difference for our world and future generations to come.
Buy A Home That Is Energy Star Certified
Most of our energy consumption takes place at home. While there are a number of energy efficient changes you can make to any home (such as installing energy efficient lighting and water saving shower heads), buying a house that is Energy Star certified means that your home will be at least 10% more energy efficient than homes built to code and achieve a 20% improvement on average.
At KDA Homes, we achieve this level of performance and meet the strict guidelines for energy efficiency developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That said, there are plenty of ways to live a more eco-friendly life even if you’re home isn’t Energy Star certified and you’re not in the market to buy right now.
Shopping locally can have a tremendous positive impact on the environment. Shopping locally doesn’t mean heading down to your nearest Albertsons or Whole Foods. Rather, it means shopping at places that sell locally-sourced goods. Why? Transporting food and other goods to conventional stores requires huge amounts of energy. In fact,
“growing, processing, and delivering the food consumed by a family of four requires the equivalent each year of almost 34,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, or more than 930 gallons of gasoline (for comparison, the average U.S. household annually consumes about 10,800 kWh of electricity and about 1,070 gallons of gasoline).”
Opting to shop at local food stores, farms in your city or neighboring town, and farmers markets are a great way to help the environment and boost your local economy at the same time.
Luckily for us, Ashland has an abundance of locally sourced food and products at its grocery stores and farmers markets. There are even ways for you to have locally grown ingredients delivered straight to your doorstep!
Test Out Your Green Thumb
Similar to shopping locally, trying your hand at gardening can be great for the planet. Plant some tomatoes, potatoes, kale, onions, garlic, zucchini, pumpkin, strawberries, or whatever else strikes your fancy.
You’ll help reduce delivery emissions and your own trips to the store. Additionally, you get to determine what goes on your plants and into your soil and can choose to be chemical-free. Better for your health and better for the planet. Plus, you get to have a beautiful garden brightening up your yard!
Conserve Water Whether You’re In A Drought Or Not
While Oregon is not currently in a drought and California just came out of its 7+ year drought, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be mindful of using this precious resource. Some simple ways to live more sustainably include taking shorter showers, installing water savers on your faucets and showerheads, turning the tap off while you brush your teeth, fixing leaky faucets and toilets, and using less water while you wash your dishes.
Every drop counts when it comes to conserving water. Challenge yourself to see where you can make a difference.
Reduce Plastic In Your Life, Particularly Single-Use Plastics
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – you’ve probably heard the saying a thousand times. While the idea behind it is noble, the execution doesn’t work very well. Particularly when it comes to plastic. The sad reality is that “of the plastic waste produced between 1950 and 2015, only 9 percent was recycled.”
Take a moment for that to sink in…
This isn’t because people aren’t recycling (though some aren’t). Rather, we don’t have the capacity to recycle the amount of plastic we produce and the majority ends up in landfills or the ocean. While this is a sobering realization it also means you have incredible power as a consumer. Bring a mug from home when you go out for tea or coffee, take your groceries home in canvas bags, try out a shampoo bar (one bar includes as much shampoo as 24 plastic bottles!), ditch the zip locks and choose beeswax wraps, buy in bulk, and say no straws. There are options out there – have fun exploring ways to reduce plastic in your life. Maybe you’ll inspire others too!
Start Composting At Home Or With A Drop Off
Each day, people around the globe throw away items that can be composted. In fact, landfills are 25% filled with things that can go in a compost bin. These natural items contribute to landfill waste and greater emissions, dependency on fossil fuels and robs the land of vital nutrients.
Whether you want to start your own compost pile or not, you can help create a more eco-friendly world by composting and donating your compost to a friend or local school, farm, or organization. There are bound to be organizations, or people, where you live who would love to have your compost scraps.
Installing solar panels on your home is great for the planet and great for your wallet too. In fact, tax credits and cash incentives you can receive for going solar “cover up to 70% of the cost of installing your solar power system”. Your energy bill savings over time will cover the rest, and then some!
Besides being good for the planet and saving you money each month on utilities, there are a number of other incentives that a solar-powered home provides. Curious what some of these benefits are? Well, they include increased property value, contributing to US energy independence, demonstrating your commitment to sustainability, and supporting your local economy.
Have you started a journey to a more eco-friendly lifestyle? What has worked best for you? If you’re just starting, let us know what you might want to try first in the comments below!
Here at KDA Homes, we are committed to building communities in Southern Oregon that are sustainable and create the smallest environmental impact on our planet as possible. Our homes are Earth Advantage and Energy Star Certified – this means a smaller environmental footprint, lower utility bills for our customers, and a better resale value than conventional homes. We also build our homes to be solar ready and net-zero whenever possible which means they are equipped to produce as much energy as they consume. Small steps toward building sustainable communities in Southern Oregon.
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