25 Simple Swaps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Doing your part to protect the planet this Earth Day can be as easy as making small, strategic changes to your everyday routine.

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Dry naturally

dryMenna/ShutterstockAccording to the National Resource Defense Council, a typical American home uses 800 kilowatts of electricity running their clothes dryer. Instead of machine-drying all your stuff, set up a clothesline in your backyard or on your balcony and let your sheets and clothes air dry. The amount of energy the appliance consumes depends on the brand and age of your clothes dryer, but air-drying will help you save a little cash on your electric bill too. If you don't have outdoor space, consider setting up a drying rack in the laundry room, a bathroom, or any well-ventilated area of your home.

Let exercise do double-duty

exerciselzf/ShutterstockIf you live close enough to work or errands, consider walking, running, or biking to work to keeping one more car off the road and burn calories to boot. If you live too far from work to get there by foot or bike, consider carpooling with a coworker who lives nearby, or research public transportation options. According to the EPA, a typical passenger vehicle emits 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year so each day you're off the road you're conserving cash and carbon.

 

Cruise and coast

cruise-controlMK-photograp55/ShutterstockIntermittent acceleration and braking burns extra fuel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. When you're on the highway, turn on cruise control to maintain an even speed and conserve gas. The exception: On hilly terrain, cruise control can expend more fuel by trying to maintain an even speed on uphill portions of the road, so consider going fully manual in the mountains. You can also conserve gas—and save your brakes—by taking your foot off the gas pedal when approaching a red light (if there's no one behind you).

Lights on

lightSteve-Cukrov/ShutterstockTurning off lights and appliances as much as possible is a sure-fire way to reduce your energy consumption, but swapping your standard light bulb for an LED or CFL bulb reduces energy consumption by up to 80 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The more efficient bulbs also last longer, reducing waste and cost.

 

 

 

Drink up

drink-upPoprotskiy-Alexey/ShutterstockRather than grabbing a single-use container when you're out and about, carry a reusable water bottle with you. You can take this tip further by carrying a coffee thermos too; most coffee shops will fill your brought-from-home mug. Still need to buy plastic bottles? Consider giving them a second life at home before you recycle.

 

 

 

Home brew

home-brewMasa-Kato/ShutterstockInstead of one-time plastic pods, which wreak havoc on the environment, purchase a drip brewing machine that reduces plastic consumption. Even better, invest in a French press or cold brew maker, which does the steeping without plastic or power.

 

 

 

 

Skip the straw

no-strawpathdoc/ShutterstockAmericans use a whopping 500 million straws per day, a number that, end-to-end, could circle the planet 2.5 times, according to environmental action group Sailors for the Sea. Instead, skip the straw and lid all together and sip from the cup to avoid contributing to plastic pollution. If you need to use a straw, or have little ones in tow, purchase paper or metal straws made from recycled material. The paper will biodegrade more easily than plastic, and metal straws can be reused until they're ready to recycle.

 

Go paperless

paperlessPushish-Images/ShutterstockInstead of printing a receipt each time you hit the ATM, opt in to email or text message receipts to keep tabs on your balance. Most banks now offer paperless billing, so you can handle all of your transactions online without wasting a single sheet of paper. While you're at it, download an app like Venmo or Paypal, where you can transfer money between individuals free of charge and save on the paper checks too. Never heard of Venmo? Here's what you need to know.

Reject the junk

junkJacob-Schroeter/ShutterstockThe average American adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year. Stem the flow of paper waste by signing up for a service like DMA Choice to remove your name and address from direct mailing lists. If you're getting catalogs from favorite retailers, email them to request being removed from their direct mailing list and opt into email updates instead. Many stores like CVS and Stop and Shop now offer apps that allow users to load coupons directly onto their loyalty cards to avoid printing them. Another bonus: One card means fewer coupons to forget at home!

Put the e in email

e-in-emailFoxy-burrow/ShutterstockSave paper by swapping snail mail for email. For birthdays and holidays, websites such as Paperless Post offer digital invitation services, greeting cards, and more. As a bonus, many online greeting websites allow you to schedule sending cards in advance, so no more missing birthdays.

 

 

 

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