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Eco-friendly Swaps To Adopt in the New Year

Updated Dec 26, 2022

Updated Dec 26, 2022

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > Eco-friendly Swaps To Adopt in the New Year

Traditionally, the new year signals a time for reflection about the past year and what changes we’d like to make moving into the future. With growing awareness of the harmful effects of climate change, many people are considering how they can reduce their carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Read on if you’re looking for earth-friendly changes you can make in the New Year. Our guide covers some of the best eco-friendly swaps you can make to live more sustainably.

Eco-friendly Swaps for Your Home

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The inside of your home is one of the simplest and most effective places for eco-friendly swaps. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, many of these swaps can save you significant money long-term.

Switch To LED Bulbs

Changing the lighting in your home can decrease your electricity usage. Reducing energy usage means less pollution from nonrenewable resources and big savings on your energy bill. About 15% of a home’s energy use goes toward lighting, and switching to LED bulbs can save you an average of $225 in energy costs per year. Though LEDs are more expensive upfront than incandescent bulbs, they last longer and cost less.

Add Motion Lights and Timers

Adding motion lights and light timers is a great way to ensure you’ll only be using light when needed. Light timers and motion sensors also double as a security solution — if you get home late, you don’t have to fumble through the dark and dodge obstacles as you enter the house.

Get a Low-flow Showerhead

Installing a low-flow showerhead will conserve water and save money on water heating costs. By installing a low-flow showerhead, an average family could save up to 2,700 gallons of water and 330-kilowatt hours of energy per year. Not only are they eco-friendly, but low-flow showerheads keep money in your pocket.

Consider Energy Star Appliances

Your appliances are the biggest energy consumers in your home, and switching to Energy Star can save you tons. If an appliance has an Energy Star badge, it has been tested and meets the rigorous standards for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). From HVAC components to small electronics, a wide range of Energy Star products are available to help you increase your energy efficiency. If you’re curious about how much an Energy Star product may save you, try the free online energy savings calculator.

Use Smart Home Technology

There are a plethora of smart home products available. These products are designed to streamline energy use and simplify everyday life. For example, smart thermostats can learn your heating and cooling habits and adjust your system depending on when you’re inside the house. 

Transition to Solar Energy

Switching to solar energy, a clean and renewable resource, can help lower your carbon footprint and save money. With a range of solar technologies available, you can customize a system that works for you, your home, and your energy use. Whether installing a solar-powered water heater or making a whole-home conversion, the possibilities of solar energy are not as limited as they once were. 

Eco-friendly Swaps for Your Yard

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Maintaining a yard requires a lot of resources — a green lawn needs regular watering and keeping it tidy means regular mowing. In addition to the resources required to maintain a lawn, most grasses in the United States aren’t native to North America and can be harmful to biodiversity. To counter that, you can make some eco-friendly swaps to your yard maintenance routine, which we’ve explored below.

Stop Mowing With Gas

Gas-powered equipment can create a lot of pollution. According to the EPA, lawn mower emissions are responsible for 5% of air pollutants. A no-mow lawn can create a biodiverse environment and eliminate the financial and environmental costs of maintaining a lawn. If you must maintain your lawn, try a push-mower or electric alternative.

Explore Grass Alternatives

Making your lawn more eco-friendly doesn’t mean giving up the lush green look it provides — there are alternatives. Ground cover options, like clover, are low-maintenance, environmentally friendly, and improve the soil while increasing biodiversity. There are many flowering ground cover options if you want to add color. Speaking with a plant specialist at your local nursery can help you identify what is native to your area and will thrive in place of grass.

Use Compost in Place of Fertilizer

Commercially available fertilizers emit greenhouse gasses, affect biodiversity, and can harm beneficial bugs. Rather than synthetic fertilizer, opt for a thin layer of compost on your lawn. Compost will keep the soil healthy and add beneficial nutrients to the surrounding flora and fauna.

Don’t Use Chemical Pesticides

Pesticide use is linked to the collapse of bee colonies and the demise of other native species. Bees are critical to the pollination of flowering plants and food resources. Rather than chemical pesticides, try natural alternatives, like hot pepper spray or garlic. You can place plants like nasturtium throughout your yard that are natural deterrents.

Eco-friendly Swaps for Your Lifestyle

reusable steel straws and water bottle
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Making changes to your lifestyle can be difficult. As humans, we get used to certain ways of doing things, and interrupting those patterns can be challenging. However, even small changes can have a big impact on the environment. Read on to learn about some eco-friendly changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint.

Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle

Bottled water is expensive, and the packaging is wasteful. It’s recommended that daily water intake should be between 3 and 4 liters. That equates to a little over six bottles of water, and at an average of $1.29 each, it would cost you about $7.75 a day, or roughly $2,825 a year, to drink bottled water. Investing in a nice, reusable water bottle is a great way to save money and reduce plastic waste. There are plenty of options on the market, from stainless steel to BPA-free. Choosing a water bottle that you like will encourage you to use it. 

Upgrade Your Bathroom Products

Many bathroom products can be full of harmful chemicals and hard on the environment. From deodorant to dental floss, many suspect items can be in your bathroom. Nowadays, many companies produce sustainable products — bamboo toothbrushes with bristles made from recycled plastic bottles, shampoo bars, organic cotton tampons, and skin care products made without chemicals. Though you should use what you have, consider purchasing refillable containers and opting for products made with more sustainable materials; it’s better for your skin and the environment.

Bring Lunch in Reusable Containers

One of the most earth-friendly practices is cutting down on single-use plastics. One way to incorporate this into your lifestyle is by collecting recyclable containers to use in your lunch box. There is a range of food storage containers made from recycled materials. Many companies even make reusable silicone straws, beeswax food wraps, cutlery, and other eco-friendly products to help you cut down on plastic waste. 

Sit Down To Drink Your Coffee

More than 50 billion coffee cups are thrown away in the U.S. annually. While kicking a coffee habit may be unlikely, you could leave for work a few minutes earlier to sit down and enjoy your coffee at the shop. If drinking your beverage on the go is a must, bring your mug from home to help keep waste down.

Try Public Transportation

Using public transportation can help decrease pollutants from cars. Though taking public transportation may not be as quick as driving yourself, it can reduce carbon emissions, air pollution, and noise pollution and create clearer skies with less smog. Public transportation also provides the added benefit of not having to navigate rush hour traffic.

Borrow, Don’t Buy

Often, we need to use tools or appliances for a specific purpose or recipe. The catch is that we may only need to use it once. Rather than buying a new tool or kitchen appliance, see if you can borrow it. Many local tool-lending establishments aim to help DIYers and homeowners by providing tool-lending services. 

Try Your Local Farmer’s Market

When you source your food locally, you’re supporting the small business economy and minimizing your carbon footprint. When you shop at a grocery store chain, you’re often buying things that have been shipped and delivered from other parts of the world and more than likely grown on a large scale; regardless of where you shop, remember to bring reusable tote grocery bags instead of using plastic bags from the store. You encourage and support more sustainable practices by shopping locally and bringing your own shopping bags.

Opt For Zero-waste Packaging

Swapping out single-use plastic packaging for zero waste is becoming increasingly popular. The switch is becoming easier with a rise in stores specifically geared toward zero waste. Though some zero-waste packaging is expensive initially, the long-term savings are well worth it. You can creatively reuse old jars, coffee canisters, and other dishwasher-safe containers rather than buying new ones.

Replace Paper Goods

Many household staples like paper towels and toilet paper are made unsustainably. Buying eco-friendly toilet paper can help ensure that you’re using a product free of dyes and bleach that could be harmful to your body. In place of paper towels to wipe down your countertop and other surfaces, try a microfiber dishcloth — they’re washable and work well.

Choose Biodegradable Products

Natural and biodegradable products are not only better for the environment, but they’re better for consumers as well. When something is biodegradable, the environment can break it down naturally. Many products and their packaging are not biodegradable. Chemical-based and highly manufactured cleaning products are harsh on the skin and the respiratory system. Choosing more sustainable products with biodegradable packaging is better for your overall health and the environment.

Buy Things Secondhand

Buying things secondhand is better for the environment than buying things new. Not only do you save money and give things a second life, but you also help keep them out of a landfill. Consignment stores, thrift stores, and flea markets are all great places to find clothes and other useful items, like furniture and tools. Some stores even offer shopping credit if you donate items. 

Final Thoughts

biodegradable plates, bowls, spoon, and fork
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It takes a collective effort to accomplish any sweeping environmental changes, but these swaps are a great place to start. Making some of these changes will lower your environmental impact, save money, and contribute to a more sustainable world.

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