In recent years, we have all become increasingly aware of how humans are negatively impacting the Earth. With a global realization of the reality of global warming and its detrimental effects, many of us have adjusted our lifestyles to reduce our environmental impact. However, there are still some things most of us do every day that we don’t realize are harmful to the environment.
With 2020 coming to an end, and many of us eager to welcome the new year and a fresh start, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to take a look at some of the common habits people have that hurt the environment and we should avoid as we enter the new year.
1. Throwing Away Food Scraps and Leftovers in the Garbage Bin
Sure, we’ve all heard of food waste. But many of us don’t realize how big of an issue it is, particularly for the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) concluded that food waste accounted for 21.6% of total municipal solid waste generation in 2018. This becomes an area of concern because the global food system is one of the biggest drivers of climate change. According to the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research, the global food system is attributed to roughly one-third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
In the U.S. alone, we thoughtlessly waste 40% of our food, so when it comes to lifestyle changes that can benefit the environment, avoiding general food waste is beneficial, and composting if/when there is food waste is one of the best things you can do.
Composting at home is super easy, and despite popular belief, you don’t even need to have a garden to do it! A small container with a lid will do, or you can get a composting bin for free via networks like Freecycle. This easy and effective lifestyle adjustment will significantly reduce your eco-footprint, the amount of waste produced in your home, and the amount of waste sent to landfills. Composting also helps create healthy soil, another added benefit for the environment.
2. Leaving Appliances Plugged In
Since many of us have been working and/or studying from home this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, most households have more than one computer, kitchen appliance, and/or TV plugged in. These common electronics and appliances offer many beneficial features that entertain us or help us be more productive, but the energy used by all of these gadgets can add up to about 10% of a household’s monthly electricity bill. The main reason for this is that many of us forget to turn off these devices when we aren’t using them, and these “energy vampires” continue to draw power even after they’ve been turned off.
Having to unplug all of your appliances and electronics individually is time-consuming and daunting, but by using a power strip, you can manage the power flow on and off for a handful of devices at the same time, easing this burden for you.
3. Running the Dishwasher or Washing Machine When It’s Not Full
Running a dishwasher that isn’t full is a huge waste of water, electricity, and other resources, so waiting until your dishwasher is full is the best way to get the most efficient usage out of your machine. The same applies to your washing machine. While it’s important not to overfill your washing machine, underfilling it will waste resources like water and electricity.
4. Improper Disposal of Electronics
Most of us recognize the value of recycling glass, paper, and plastic. But what about electronic waste? Simply throwing away electronics in the curbside bin is illegal in many states. In the United States, over 25 states have mandated electronic recycling. Laws regarding the disposal of e-waste vary from state to state. The batteries and other components inside your old electronics can cause lead, arsenic, mercury, and other harmful chemicals to seep into the earth.
Click here to learn more about how to properly dispose of old electronics
By leaving these common habits in 2020, you can set yourself up to live your most eco-friendly year yet! Be sure to stay tuned on the Kiwi Energy blog throughout the year to learn more ways that you can help create a more sustainable future.