5 Planet-Saving Tips for Lazy People
by Abby McIntosh
You know that being eco is important, but do you know how to do it? If your answer is “sort of” or “I recycle sometimes…get off my back,” then I’m happy to know that I’m not alone, but we’ve got some work to do. While there’s a lot of well-justified noise about being eco-friendly, it can seem like an unattainable lifestyle if you’re short on time (sorting your recycling takes a minute!), short on money (rent + organic food = no), or short on resources (there aren’t always recycling bins on every corner). Here are five easy ways to be a true friend to the earth that are light on effort and big on impact.
Don’t Trash It
According to a recent report by the Council for Textile Recycling, only 15% of used clothing in the United States gets recycled or donated. If you’ve got clothes that you know you’re no longer wearing, there’s no sense in letting them go to waste. There are several options when it comes to donating clothing. If you’re looking to make some money, you can bring your stuff to a local thrift store that will offer you a percentage of the sales price (or, if you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you can go the Depop route); you can bring your clothes to your local Goodwill, where drop off is simple and you can get a tax receipt in minutes; or you can do a quick google search to find shelters in your area that need clothing. All of these options are good ways to give your clothing a second life.
Skip the dryer
I’m guilty of throwing all of my stuff into the dryer (yeah, even the dry clean only stuff — sue me), but air-drying is the way to go. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that Americans spend $9 billion a year on the electricity used to dry their clothes. If you go to a laundromat, you’ll not only save money by skipping the dryer, but you’ll also save major energy. Air-drying your clothes will also make them last a lot longer! Plus, no shrunken sweaters.
Taking a break from social media is cool, but unplugging your electronics when they’re fully charged is even cooler (def. take a mental health break from social media if you need to, tho.) Leaving your electronics plugged in when they’re fully charged can add up to 10% to your energy bill, according to the Department of Energy. Try setting an alert in your phone to unplug your electronics from their respective chargers before you leave the house in the morning, and use the money that you save to buy yourself a congratulatory pizza.
Shorten your shower
Long showers are so nice, but so egregious. The Environmental Protection Agency finds that each minute wasted in the shower means 2.5 gallons of unused water going down the drain. Try to keep it to 10 minutes or fewer unless it’s been one of those days, and only a good, long cry in the shower will do. Bonus tip: a shot of cold water at the end of your shower will help to seal your hair cuticles, locking out frizz and adding shine.
Not all water temps are made equal. According to the Department of Energy, heating water can account for nearly 20% of a household’s energy use. If you’re heating water up every time you do dishes, shower, wash your hands, and brush your teeth, there’s a lot of waste going down. Try using cool or lukewarm water instead, and, as always, make sure to turn the tap off while you’re scrubbing your dishes and your teeth. No judgement if you do these things at the same time. We’re all about efficiency.