Before purchasing an item, ask if it contains recycled materials.
1. Do your research before going shopping so you can make informed buying decisions.
- People often purchase items with less sustainable packaging simply because those items are more convenient, and many items that are difficult to recycle have packaging that tells you it’s recyclable. Remember that just because something is technically recyclable, doesn’t mean that it’s practically recyclable. Please refer to our recycling guide whenever you need to remind yourself which items are the best/easiest to recycle!
2. Talk to store employees to find sustainable alternatives to items with unnecessary or hard-to-recycle packaging.
- If you are having trouble finding something made of recycled content or packaged in easy-to-recycle packaging, just ask the store employees! Sometimes there are items you haven’t tried or noticed before that are packaged more sustainably
Buy products with limited packaging or bring your own packaging.
3. Bring reusable packaging and purchase items from the bulk bins.
- Bulk bins are a great way to cut back on packaging. You can bring glass jars or reusable bags to the store and fill them with items in the bulk aisle!
4. Choose products packaged in glass, cardboard, and paperboard rather than those packaged in plastic.
- Many items packaged in plastic can also be found packaged in more sustainable alternatives. Items wrapped in plastic film or plastic bags can often be found in cardboard and paperboard packaging, and items in plastic bottles and jars can often be found packaged in glass.
Cut back on your water usage.
5. Use low-flow shower heads and toilets.
- “You can purchase some quality, low-flow fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25%–60%.”
- Learn more: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings
Cut back on your electricity usage.
7. Shutdown electronics you are not using and unplug all idle electronics.
- A study in 2015 from the Home Energy Analytics and the Stanford Sustainable Systems Lab found that on average, 23% of home electricity consumption goes to devices that are not being actively used.
- Learn more: https://www.livescience.com/52281-pull-the-plug-on-idle-electronics-to-save-hundreds-on-utility-bills.html
9. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Incandescent lights are the least efficient type of lighting. 90% of the energy they use is given off as heat, and only about 10% results in light. Because of this, they should always be turned off whenever they are not in use.
- Learn more: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/when-turn-your-lights
Cut back on your fuel usage.
10. Drive only when needed and walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation when possible.
- If your commute is 20 miles round trip, switching to public transportation could lower your carbon footprint by 4,800 pounds annually.
- Learn more: https://www.c2es.org/content/reducing-your-transportation-footprint/#:~:text=Individuals%20can%20save%20more%20than,footprint%20by%204%2C800%20pounds%20annually.
11. Avoid idling by turning your car off whenever parked for more than 10 seconds.
12. Only heat your home when necessary.
- “By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can save about 30% on your energy bill while reducing environmental emissions.”
- Learn more: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/home-heating-systems