As a selfish environmentalist I have to admit that one of the most valuable things in life is time. I guess maybe I should say water— or something environmental— but let’s be real… Time might be on top of all valuable life things. As my environmental side ponders out loud to itself I hear all these time consuming ideas. “Plant a garden!” “Sell your car and ride your bike everywhere!” “Learn how to make homebrew IPA’s” “Chop wood all summer so you can heat your house with a woodstove!”
While this voice in my head has some great points there simply are not enough minutes in the day to get all of these things done! And I think I’m not alone in this. Therefore, I started thinking about little environmental habit changes I could make that would cost me very little time. Here’s a list of the top three things you can do RIGHT NOW to benefit the environment that won’t cost you any time.
1. Put a bucket in your shower. “What?” you say. Yes, if you’re dancing around a bucket while sudsing up it’ll catch a good chunk of water. This water you can use to flush your toilet or even water a small garden! (use biodegradable soaps if you plan on doing this). Showering and bathing are the largest domestic water uses (2) so making a little change here is a big change overall.
Estimated time: 2 seconds
2. Put air in your tires. Most people don’t want to even think about giving up their cars or even driving a more efficient car. I get it— I love cars. But I also love it when cars get the best possible miles per gallon (MPG) that they can. Ensuring that the tires in your car are inflated to the maximum pressure will decrease rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is one of the biggest detractors of MPG so making sure tires are ready to roll will go a long way. In the US alone we could save 1.2 billion gallons of fuel per year if we aired up our tires (3).
Estimated time: 2 minutes
3. Change your bulbs. High efficiency lighting has come a long way in the last few years. Now we have light bulbs that are not only super efficient and long lasting but also don’t have that fluorescent strange coloring. Although they do cost a bit more at first, these bulbs usual break-even and start saving us money by the second time you would have had to change a normal bulb. According to energy.gov, “Widespread use of LED’s in the US could amount to saving $30 billion in today’s electricity prices (the equivalent of the output of 44 large power plants)”1 The best aspect of this is that once you install them you will be saving time, energy, money, and the environment.
Estimated time: 1 hour (depending on how many bulbs you have).
Lastly, if you’re still needing more motivation to start making little changes in your life think about the ‘trickle effect’ of our actions on other people. If everyone put buckets in their showers we might have enough water for the Colorado River to make produce in southern California. If all cars always had properly inflated tires maybe kids growing up near interstates might not have to breathe in as many pollutants. And if every light in this country was an LED we might not need as much electricity produced with coal. Plus, because these bulbs last so long we would be decreasing the overall need to keep sending broken bulbs to the landfill. So if you can’t make changes for yourself maybe you can for all the other people.
“LED Lighting.” LED Lighting | Department of Energy. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.
Perlman, USGS Howard. “Water Questions & Answers How Much Water Does the Average
Person Use at Home per Day?” Per Capita Water Use. Water Questions and Answers;
USGS Water Science School. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.
“Vehicle Maintenance.” Gas Mileage Tips. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.