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Low-Cost/Free Ways to Make Some Easy Eco-Friendly Changes

I think most people care about saving the Earth, but more pressing concerns – such as budget and convenience -can often interfere. And who can blame them? However I firmly believe that these same people would also be willing to make some changes, if it only slightly altered their budget and was easy to do. Here are five suggestions:

When washing clothes and dishes, choose the express cycle. For clothes that aren’t too dirty, use cold water. Skip the dryer! Hang dry whenever possible – especially large loads of few items like towels. If you don’t like the “crunchy” feeling of line-dried towels, mostly hang and then stick in the machine (once 90% dry) for 10 minutes to get a little fluff. Stop using dryer sheets and replace with a lint ball.

Button-up and turn down your thermostat! Slightly lowering your thermostat (think 68 to 66) can save energy and money. In the summer, dress accordingly and use less air-conditioning. Install LED lightbulbs and look for places in your home that can be better insulated. Don’t forget to turn off the lights before you leave a room!

Share car resources! Many won’t be carpooling during Covid-19, but we can still work together. When going to the store, offer to grab items for your neighbor. This will preserve gas and prevent excess pollution. Always consider walking or biking if the location is fairly close to your home. Rarely let your car idle!

Compost and food waste! Food waste and disposal are big contributors to climate change. Food scraps sit in landfills, don’t decompose (because they are wrapped in plastic) and therefore produce methane. There are two ways you can prevent this issue from happening. One – try using all of your food. Don’t cook more than necessary. Learn to freeze leftovers (soups, stews, chilis… you will thank yourself later) and use all parts of a food. Leftover rice? Rice pudding for dessert or fried rice for tomorrow’s lunch! Veggie scraps for homemade vegetable broth. Leftover roasted chicken for chicken salad. Want to learn to compost? Click here

When shopping, avoid purchasing new and focus on second-hand goods. There are many online options for high-quality used goods in a variety of categories. (I wrote about my favorite kid clothing source here.) If you must buy new, look for goods made with recycled materials and/or reduced fossil fuel inputs. Also, try to re-use! Find a second life for things at home before you throw them away.

Hope these ideas help! Feel free to add more below. – Rachel

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