10 Ways to Reduce Waste this Earth Day and Beyond

Kick bad habits to the curb with these eco-friendly tips and tricks.
Narragansett Beach.

Narragansett Beach. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

By Daniel Araujo and Brett Johnson

In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, here are a few tips and tricks that can make you more eco-friendly (and save you a little money while you’re at it).

1. Use a coffee tumbler.

Americans toss nearly 200 billion cups every year, and 1.5 percent (3 billion), bear a certain iconic, green mermaid caught in a cup holder during the morning commute. Now just imagine the percentage of cups from New England that say “DD” on them. With that in mind, it’s clear to see that the world could use more coffee tumblers.

2. Check your temperature.

Exactly what temperature should the house be? Well, the Department of Energy recommends it be set to less than 68 degrees in the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. Want to take this a step further? Try dropping the thermostat while you sleep and while you’re away for extra energy savings.

3. Wash cold, dry slow.

Energy Star states that 90 percent of the energy it takes to use a washing machine is devoted to just heating the water. It seems like a waste since cold water works just fine when cleaning clothes (unless you’re dealing with oily stains). Dryers also use a lot of energy creating heat which is oftentimes totally unnecessary since Mother Nature dries just fine on her own. Plus, both hot water and machine drying drastically shorten the lifespan of your clothes, so do yourself a favor and preserve your perfect pants for years to come.

4. Skip the straws.

In the USA alone, about 500 million straws are used every day, and realistically, they only see about twenty minutes of use before they’re tossed in the trash heap never to be seen again. Or, at least that’s the best case scenario. Oftentimes, they end up in our rapidly deteriorating environment where they can cause harm for thousands of years to come. Straws are obviously great when enjoying a drink over ice, so head over to biome to peruse a great selection of sleek, reusable straws made of glass, steel or bamboo!

5. Participate in a clean-up effort.

Celebrate Earth Day by participating in a cleanup effort. Check out these choices just waiting for you to extend a helping hand.

water view

A view from Warren, Rhode Island. Photo by Jamie Coelho.

6. Cut back on water usage.

Most of us don’t realize how much water we actually use in a day. According to the U.S. Geological Survey website, the average American uses eighty to 100 gallons of water daily. This amount of water could be drastically reduced by doing a few simple things, and you might even save a few bucks on your water bill every month. Speed up your shower routine or shave outside of the shower. Install a new shower head that reduces water flow, and don’t leave the water on when you’re brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. Lastly, fix a leaky faucet. Water seepage really adds up when it’s running all day.

7. Use less energy.

When you’re not in a room or in the house, just turn off the lights! If you’re afraid of coming home to a dark house, install lights that connect wirelessly to your phone so you can turn them on and off from outside. It’s also a good idea to install energy efficient bulbs, which will also cut costs on your electricity bill. Unplug appliances and chargers when you’re not using them, and try to unplug electronics as soon as they’re fully charged.

8. Buy reusable containers.

Ditch daily use of plastic wrap and Styrofoam boxes. Use reusable containers for bringing lunch to work or storing leftovers. Adopt a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water. Water is good for you — you’re supposed to drink sixty-four ounces a day, so buy a big water bottle and start chugging!

9. Recycle everything you possibly can.

Resource Recovery’s landfill in Johnston handles five different types of recycling projects including trash, bulky items, hazardous waste and yard debris. Resources (Recycling) for R.I. Education picks up recycled material from personal and business locations and also teaches students how to reuse recycled material. When you’re cleaning out your closet, don’t throw perfectly good clothes away. Donate these unwanted items. Also, old sheets, blankets and towels, in good condition, are sometimes accepted at animal shelters.

10. Buy local food.

There are fifty-eight reported farmers markets year-round, so there’s no excuse to not eat locally. If you can’t get to a farmers market, Farm Fresh Rhode Island has established a Veggie Box program that includes a box filled with fresh products from Massachusetts and Rhode Island farms that customers can pick up at various locations.

 

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