There’s one common thread that runs among all of us ecotourism enthusiasts: We believe in responsible travel that minimizes our carbon footprint and maximizes positive impacts on communities, wildlife, and the environment. Many eco-travelers return from a trip hoping to live a greener lifestyle at home, and to do this, sometimes the best solutions are the most simple. It can be best to start small with realistic changes that can be done everyday by everyone. You don’t have to do a remodel on your home to make it more eco-friendly or invest in an electric car (although it helps), but rather make small eco-minded changes to impact the Earth in a big way. Here are five eco-friendly ideas for everyday living:
1. Change Your Showerhead
This simple alteration in your bathroom can save up to 2,300 gallons of water annually. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that if every home in the United States installed WaterSense showerheads, we could collectively save more than 250 billion gallons of water per year and collectively save more than $1.5 billion in water bills. That amount of water savings could supply up to 2.5 million homes with water for an entire year.
2. Reduce Food Waste
Shockingly, nearly half of the food that is produced in the United States is never eaten, according to a report from the National Resources Defense Council. But this doesn’t mean that food is the only thing that’s being wasted. The energy needed to produce the food, like the oil used in the trucks to transport it and the water used to grow it, are completely wasted, too. Do your part at the grocery store by shopping for foods you know you will eat and remember to not buy in excess.
3. Keep Recycling
When people think about going green, the first thing they may think of is recycling. Although it’s obvious, recycling should not be downplayed or underestimated. According to the EPA, the U.S. has collectively increased the amount of waste that’s recycled from 15 percent to 34 percent since the 1990s. In the year 2013, the U.S. recycled and composted a whopping 87 million tons of waste. While recycling is obvious, we still have room for improvement, so keep recycling and encourage your non-recycling friends to get on board.
4. Ditch the Bottle
Americans consume 30.8 gallons of bottled water on a yearly basis, according to a 2012 report by the Beverage Marketing Corporation. If you’re still drinking bottled water, you’re solely responsible for about 490 plastic bottles each year. Where are they now? They are clogging up landfills. The simple solution to reducing plastic bottle waste is investing in a reusable bottle. At Natural Habitat Adventures, we go to great lengths to reduce the use of plastic water bottles during all Nat Hab adventures, providing our guests with filtered water to drink in reusable water bottles. We are also a proud supporter of Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a campaign to spread awareness about the impacts of using disposable plastic water bottles while traveling. You can also support TAP by signing the pledge to not use plastic water bottles while traveling.
5. Swap Your Bulbs
The average American household uses more than 50 lightbulbs. Swapping out just five of those highly-used bulbs with incandescent bulbs saves energy. In fact, according to data reported by U.S. News & World Report, using incandescent bulbs in your home means you’re using up to 75 percent less energy to keep your home well-lit. You’re saving money by doing this, too. By switching to Energy-Star rated incandescents, you can save up to $70 annually on your electric bill. The upfront cost is small, but the return and savings are big. Plus, you’re helping make the Earth a better place, one small change at a time.
This is a guest post by Lauren Troper, a journalist who writes about food, travel, and culture.