There’s no better time than right now to start reducing your carbon footprint and otherwise improving your personal impact on the environment. And, just as importantly, there’s no better place to start than in your own home. From upgrading your air conditioner and heat system for greater energy efficiency to adding new products and interests to your day-to-day plan, improving your family’s and your home’s environmental impact can be a surprisingly simple process.
Edit your eating habits.
If you’re open to stopping or reducing the amount of meat and other animal products you eat, you start with a major improvement to your environmental impact at home. And, while switching to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet is one of the best ways to make your plate more green, you don’t need to go all-in right away. Try incorporating Meatless Mondays into your weekly meal plan to start, then cut back more as you feel comfortable. Reducing food waste is another great way to make a change. Start a compost pile and eat up those leftovers before they go bad.
Upgrade your utilities.
Finding an energy-efficient way to heat and cool your home is one of the most effective ways to make a big impact from home. Seek out the seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, of your equipment and consider whether a new air conditioner or heat system could use less energy or be more efficient in general. Better yet, the environment won’t be the only area to see an improvement from this change—your budget will thank you, too, when your energy bill arrives with lower air conditioning and heating costs! If you can’t afford to upgrade your home heating and cooling system just yet, try to turn the thermostat down a degree or two and utilize sunlight for efficient heating naturally. Meanwhile, start saving up and contact a professional to see how you can improve the amount of hot air, cool air, and energy efficiency you’re dealing with through the year.
From a grocery run to a for-fun shopping spree, there are lots of ways to make your shopping habit more eco-friendly. Keep reusable bags in your purse or car so you won’t have to use paper or plastic—in some cities, you’ll even save money by bringing your own tote. Before you buy anything you’ll be bringing into your home, consider whether it’s the most eco-friendly option available. Try to avoid purchasing items with excessive, unnecessary packaging, and buy your household staples in bulk when possible.
Switch up your products.
One of the simplest ways to get your entire family involved in being more environmentally friendly is to begin using reusable, green products whenever possible. To make it extra fun, seek out eco-friendly Christmas gifts for your entire family. From loose leaf tea to replace your grandparents’ plastic teabags or travel mugs in various sizes for the whole family, each sustainable gift you give will add up to make a bigger difference. Consider a larger home upgrade, like switching to more efficient newer models of your most-used appliances, as a family gift, if your budget allows it.
Take up a new hobby.
Not every eco-friendly switch you make will be fun, but they can be. Learn to upcycle items that you’d otherwise throw in the garbage or recycling, or take up gardening to improve air quality, produce your own fruits or vegetables, or even add to the trees in your neighborhood over time. Handy with a needle? Try your hand at sewing clothes for you and your family. Great writer? Start a blog where you spread awareness about environmental issues. Whatever your interest, you can find a way to make a green impact.
From finding the perfect gift for your whole family and benefiting the environment along the way to turning down the thermostat, lowering your utility bill, and upgrading your equipment to improve your home’s eco-friendly status, you can make your home a greener place to be at any time of year. The initial investment may be daunting but, over time, you’re almost certain to lower your energy bills as you improve your environmental impact.