This past Monday was Earth Day, and everyone was on board. The Franklin Park Zoo, the Charles River Association, tons of libraries, and other lovers of Boston's green spaces all held engaging events. Then Monday ended, and guess what? The Earth still needs us to think about it. While we love the energy and fun of these days of awareness, we're writing about it today—after Earth Day itself—to emphasize how one day of activism pales in comparison to the effect we can have when we show Mother Earth some love every day of the year. Following are some suggestions for how to live a cleaner, greener life.
Avoid plastic whenever possible
That means plastic water bottles, too, people. Carry a stainless steel or glass bottle with you and refill, refill, refill. Even if you don't care about some far-away landfill, know that microscopic—and not-so-microscopic—plastic particles are finding their way into our food. And you don't want to be eating plastic! It's toxic to you and the planet.
Take public transportation or carpool
As real estate agents who drive all over the Greater Boston area showing people houses, we know it's not easy to accomplish this. However, we do carpool when we tour our colleagues' listings, and we plan routes that are as efficient as possible.
Encourage use of green energy sources
Both of us are highly aware of our own energy usage. We subscribe to green energy services, and encourage builders and homeowners to install geo-thermal, solar and other non-carbon energy sources into their homes.
Use LED lightbulbs
Seriously, this is a no-brainer. Most LEDs now emulate the exact light quality of an incandescent bulb, and they dim beautifully! If you are using CFLs, bring them to a recycling center (they have mercury in them). If you're still using incandescents, throw them away. And yes, turn off lights when not needed, even in your office. Even if you switch to LEDs, use natural light wherever possible.
Buy green clothes and recycle old textiles
And by "green," we mean cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool, and other natural fibers. Natural fibers biodegrade and tend to breathe better than manufactured ones. And when you're ready to get rid of clothes, donate or recycle them. Somerville is currently recycling textiles (read our blog on it here), and other communities have bins, as well.
Cut your trash in half
How many bags of trash did you put out last week? Whether it was one or ten, make a goal to cut it by half. We waste so much! Buy items with minimal, recyclable packaging. Compost your food waste. Join a Freecycle group and give away items instead of chucking them.
Eliminate as much paper mail as possible
Yes, real estate agents put out mailings to market ourselves and our properties. But we use recyclable paper, do lots of online marketing, and never choose plastic-wrapped mailings. We pay all our bills online.
Eat local, eat organic
Transporting food long distances wastes fossil fuels and can make our food less nutritious. Eating local and organic lessens the use of products that are known to be ultra-harmful, and connects you to your community.
Keep your green lawn "green"
Use organic fertilizers and soils. Yes, those chemical-infused additives are very effective, but are also very harmful to other plants, animals, and our drinking water. Plant a small vegetable or herb garden instead of buying basil and dill wrapped in plastic at the store.
There are many communities in and around Boston that are prone to drought. Water your landscaping first thing in the morning, and use a watering can instead of a sprinkler. Consider collecting rainwater. Team member Rebecca's city of Melrose sells them at a discount each spring; check your community to see if their DPW offers something similar. Don't run your water non-stop while brushing your teeth, and fix leaky faucets and toilets.
Most homes are energy-inefficient because of poor sealing and inadequate insulation. Adding insulation pays for itself quickly with lower heating bills and increased home value. If you're not using them yet, purchase programmable thermostats to up your energy efficiency.
Use your home efficiently
A shared living environment lessens our impact on the environment, so consider living in an apartment or condo, taking in roommates, or renting a spare room in your home. If you're the "fixer-upper" kind of person, know that renovating an old house and retro-fitting it for energy efficiency is far better for the environment than tearing it down and replacing it with a new home. Whenever possible, integrate green practices into your home's structure.
What are your go-to habits for loving our planet?