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15 Small But Very Significant Ways to Help the Environment

Edited By: Natalia Jones
 Now, we all know that we’re supposed to recycle and use our feet and our bikes more to help the environment. Most of us are already insulating our homes on a regular basis to save money, and it’s great to know that the environment benefits from this as well. However, there’s a lot more we could do to help our planet and make sure our children and grandchildren get to enjoy a breath of fresh air and appreciate the beauty of nature just as much as we did. Making these 16 tiny changes in your home will really improve your environmental footprint and really help the planet in the long run.

1. Opt for loose leaf tea and non-capsule coffee

small things to save the environment loose leaf tea and non-capsule coffee
Image source: Marco Verch/ Flickr
Nylon tea bags are not great for your own health, not to mention the environment, as they leech microplastics into the tea and, ultimately, into your body and the environment. The same goes for coffee capsules, which have the added ecological toll of being non-recyclable because they contain mixed materials.

2. Donate and buy more second-hand clothing

small things to save the environment Donate and buy more second hand clothing
The clothing industry is one of the most wasteful on the planet, with many chemical dyes polluting water and being extremely dangerous to the people who work with them. Apart from that, the fast fashion industry is purposefully producing low-quality clothing for you to use and buy more of it.
To break this cycle of waste, unfair work conditions and pollution, make sure you only buy the clothes you need and donate unused clothes. Buying second-hand clothes is also a good option to cut down on global clothing waste.

3. Use matches instead of lighters

small things to save the environment Use matches instead of lighters
Plastic lighters are rarely durable and refillable nowadays, and all of the lighters you've ever thrown out without a second thought end up in landfills. On top of that, these are often filled with butane, which makes them even more hazardous to the environment. Using matches is a much safer alternative if being eco-friendly is your objective. 

4. Wash clothes at low temperatures

small things to save the environment Wash your clothes at a low temperature
Needless to say, we should only use the washing machine once we've collected enough laundry for a full load. Apart from that, though, use cold water to wash your clothes, as 90% of a washing machine's total electricity consumption typically goes to heating the water.
The added benefit of washing clothes in cold water is that the colors of the fabrics will remain vibrant for longer, and synthetic and loosely-knit fabrics will better keep their shape.

5. Use LED light bulbs

small things to save the environment LED light bulbs
Replacing light bulbs is just a matter of time. The most environmentally-friendly, as well as the longest-lasting and most efficient light bulbs available are LED bulbs, so the next time you need a new one, pick up one of those. Compared to incandescent light bulbs, LEDs will last you around 25 times longer and will consume a lot less electricity, so they're worth the slightly higher price tag.

6. Opt for biodegradable kitty litter

small things to save the environment Opt for biodegradable kitty litter
Many people don't know this, but most clay kitty litters are actually made of bentonite clay, which is not biodegradable and will end its journey in a landfill. Opt for biodegradable alternatives of cat litter, such as wood pellets, for example.

7. Have meat-free days every week

small things to save the environment Have meat free days every week
The food you choose to eat has an ecological footprint, too, with red meat being the most resource-intensive food variety. Even if you're not vegetarian, have meatless days, as well as try to switch meat out with fish and poultry on other days of the week. Apart from being light on the environment, you'll do yourself a favor as well, as excessive red meat consumption is dangerous for your health as well.

8. Use rechargeable batteries

small things to save the environment Use rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable batteries are a great investment, as they will save you money in the long run. Most importantly, however, using fewer batteries will ensure that fewer batteries will end up in landfills, and the corrosive acids these contain are a serious environmental hazard.

9. Forget about the dryer

small things to save the environment dryer
Air-drying your clothes is easy and it's free, so it surprises me why so many people choose to have a bulky dryer that's gobbling up so much electricity in their home. Unless you live in an extremely humid environment and the laundry simply will not dry completely on its own, you don't need a dryer.

10. Learn to unplug

small things to save the environment Unplug
No, we don't mean this metaphorically (although that's good advice as well), but very literally. When you're not using a device, such as your charger, hairdryer or even the kitchen blender, pull the plug on it. Sure, electronic devices don't use up a lot of electricity when they're inactive, but they do use some, which really accumulates over the years.

11. Turn down the brightness on your screens

small things to save the environment turn down the brightness
I don't know about you, but screens that are too bright, be it a TV, a computer screen or a smartphone give me a headache, so I tend to lower the brightness on these anyway. But I know many people don't, and by not doing so, they're doing a disservice to both themselves and the planet, as excessive screen brightness makes the battery life of a device much shorter. The same goes for TV screens: these will consume a lot more electricity when the brightness settings of the screen are up.

12. Don't pay extra for express shipping

small things to save the environment express shipping
Getting a package delivered overnight may sound tempting, but it's actually terrible for the environment, as it usually requires special delivery vehicles and so, more traffic and emission. This is especially true when it comes to international and long-distance shipping, so choose regular shipping when shopping online. Apart from that, it's always a better idea to order several items at the same time rather than one or two more often, as this will save both packaging and delivery services.

13. Clean your car at a car wash

small things to save the environment car wash
This surprised us, but it turns out that car washes are a lot more efficient and eco-friendly than washing your car at home. It all boils down to water consumption: a typical car wash uses significantly less water than you would be washing your car at home.

14. Keep the damper closed

small things to save the environment fireplace damper
A fireplace instantly sets that relaxing, wintry mood in any home, it just does. But did you know that by keeping the damper open when the fireplace is on, you're throwing a lot of money and energy out the window? It's true, it has been estimated that an open fireplace damper equals leaving a 48'' window open.

15. Listen to music offline

small things to save the environment Listen to music offline
It's difficult to conceptualize digital energy consumption, but it's becoming an increasing problem. Cloud technology helps us access so much information and media online without having to download anything to our own devices, but that doesn't mean that storing all this information online doesn't take energy.
The servers that enable all this incredible technology constantly consume a lot of electricity, and by accessing this technology less and by storing less information on the cloud you could help cut down on their energy consumption So bust out your old record or cassette player whenever you can, I know I will!
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