It's important to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle and be friendlier to the environment. This doesn't have to be complicated––maintaining a sustainable lifestyle can easily start right at home. When you're outside of your own space, you're not completely in control of your environmental impact, but ensuring that your home is as eco-friendly as possible gives you a big head start in the sustainability game.
Of course, it takes more than a commitment to recycling to create a truly sustainable home. Here are a variety of tips for reducing your home's eco-impact.
How many items in your house are plugged in right now? The answer is (probably) more than you would initially guess. Any average home contains around 40 electronic items that are continually drawing power, even after they've been turned off. While separately these items seem like they're using a minimal amount of energy, altogether the items that you leave plugged-in can add up to 10% of your home's total energy usage. Of course, you won't want to get in the habit of unplugging your refrigerator every time you leave the house, but devices like TVs, phone chargers, coffeemakers, and gaming consoles can easily be left unplugged overnight, or while you're out of the house during the day. Not only will this help you conserve energy, but it could also save you over $100 a year on your electric bill.
You can also cut down on energy consumption by developing simple habits like turning off lights when you leave a room and wearing sweaters in the winter instead of cranking up the heat. These practices might feel like small contributions, but when it comes to sustainability, every little bit counts.
Reducing water usage is often seen as a low priority in developed countries where access to water is taken for granted. Right now, there are over 2 billion people in the world facing some form of water scarcity, and with population, numbers increasing the issue will only get bigger. So what can you do? Besides simple things like turning the faucet off while you're brushing your teeth, washing your face, and shaving, there are several changes you can make to your home that will help you use less water.
Utilize a rain barrel to collect rainwater that you can later use to water your indoor plants, lawn, or your garden. Rain barrels provide you with a natural supply of water that doesn't have to come from your tap!
Install low-flow fixtures in your home that will automatically limit the amount of water you're using. You can find low-flow shower-heads, faucets, and even toilets. When these items are used in conjunction with one another, you can be saving thousands of gallons of water per year. If you're not able to purchase a new low-flow toilet, there is a pretty simple way to convert your existing toilet to use less water on every flush.
Speaking of your plumbing, when you're saving water, it's crucial to fix any leaking faucet or appliance as soon as possible. Letting a leaky faucet drip can add up over time––in fact, the EPA notes, household leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually across the United States. So just make sure there's a reputable plumber near you that can help you out when you need them.
This may not be quite as obvious, but even your choice of clothing has a massive impact on the environment. When you consider everything from the pesticides used to grow the plants, to the amount of water used in production, and the chemicals used to dye the fabric, the conventional cotton industry starts looking rather unsustainable.
You can do your part to counteract these practices by buying clothing made from organic cotton for you and your family. Organic cotton production uses 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventional cotton, while also using none of the chemicals or pesticides that are harmful to farmers, consumers, and the environment.
Even if your wardrobe is already made from sustainable materials, you still have to find a way to keep them clean. We've already talked about water conservation, and while waiting to run your washer until you have a full load of clothes is certainly a big help, what about the detergent you're using? Many of the most popular laundry detergents are made with harmful chemicals, which over time can be damaging to both your clothes and your skin. At the very least, you should be using a plant-based, eco-friendly detergent. If you're really looking for an all-natural solution, try using soap nuts in your wash for a 100% zero waste solution.
Stocking your house with all-natural organic food is crucial for maintaining a fully sustainable home. Although these days it feels somewhat trendy for brands to put the word "organic" on every single product, you can actually rest assured they mean it. Any food that's marked as "organic" on their packaging, by law must be made with 95% organic ingredients. Companies who do not obey this law can face up to $10,000 in fines!
If you're still not convinced by the supermarket labels, you can opt for the even more eco-friendly route of shopping local! Community farmer's markets are an excellent source of locally-grown produce, organic eggs, and homemade baked goods. By buying local, and skipping the middleman you're not only guaranteeing freshness, but also supporting local farmers and producers, by giving your money directly to them.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Avenue Soap CompanyDo you know what's in your beauty products? More often than not soaps, shampoos, lotions and more are full of harmful chemicals that aren't good for you or the environment. That's why Glenn Avenue Soap Company uses completely natural ingredients in all of their products, which are also made using environmentally-friendly practices. Either online or in person at their Craft Soaphouse, you can purchase anything from all natural shaving cream and body butters to bath bombs and beer soaps — guilt free! Multiple Locations
Photo courtesy of Jeni's Splendid Ice CreamsEven if you aren't from Columbus you probably know about Jeni's. Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream creates some of the most famous ice creams around — they've even been named one of the best ice cream shops in the country by Food & Wine Magazine, Thrillist and US News. And it all started right here in Columbus when Jeni Britton Bauer decided to open a trendy ice cream shop in 2002. We love them, not only because the ice cream is so good, but also because they care about the environment. They recently switched to long-handled metal taster spoons and ditched the plastic ones to keep them out of the landfill and they also recycle, compost and reuse 75-80% of their food waste. 815 North High Street Glean is a shop that celebrates all things creatively repurposed. At their quirky venue, you'll find everything from unique home decor to locally handcrafted goods. Dawn McCombs started Glean in an effort to purposely lighten the impact on the environment, but before that, she was a teacher. Instead of scaring her students into caring for the environment, she taught them to love the Earth. That loving spirit is infused into Glean, inspiring customers to think about the planet and their impact on it every time they step inside. 1042 Dublin Road Modo Yoga is a socially and environmentally conscious studio. They offer a form of hot yoga that combines the precision of therapeutic yoga, and the foundations of traditional yoga in a specially heated room. The "hot" in hot yoga allows for deep, safe stretching that helps strengthen, tone and loosen muscles, all while calming your mind and reducing stress. Their studio is powered with renewable energy and they continually create community campaigns to raise funds for the protection of the environment. So visit one of their many scheduled classes and rest easy knowing that you're helping out your body, mind and the planet. 424 West Town Street Land-Grant Brewing is a craft brewery located in the historic Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus. Not only is Land-Grant one of the most successful breweries in the area, but they're also a leading pioneer in the sustainability movement in Columbus. They've worked tirelessly to upgrade their building, and In 2018, they even hosted the Sun-Grant Sustainability Fair which featured community partners that all have a passion for the environment. Multiple Locations
Photo courtesy of NorthstarAt Northstar, you'll find sustainably sourced food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They try to use as many locally grown, organic and artisan-produced foods as they can to not only protect the environment but to also support local producers from around the region. And, because they acknowledge how hard it is to have a completely sustainable and harmless business, they've donated over $250,000 to-date to environmental organizations in an effort to mitigate the damage that they cause. Upcoming Popups Sea and Salt is a small local business that creates ethical, eco-friendly accessories all by hand. Hand-dyed cotton and vegan leather are used to create totes, cross body bags, coin pouches, clutches, keychains and more! Each item is imagined and created by Corinne Furniss right here in Columbus. You can purchase her sustainable accessories on Etsy or at an upcoming popup around the city. Upcoming Popups
Photo courtesy of Ryan Ransom via Too Legit to Quilt, modeled by Xiao MeiToo Legit to Quilt is one of the coolest makers in the area. With a quirky, colorful style, owner Dre creates quilted goods by hand. While she started out quilting exclusively, today she creates everything from wall hangings to pillows to patches, all from repurposed textiles. You can get your hands on one of her gorgeous designs on her website or at an upcoming popup around Columbus!