Southern California residents are happy to report that for the first time in nearly eight years, our region is no longer declared to be in a drought. Our lakes and rivers are filling back up, our hillsides are lush and green, and the wildflowers are displaying a vibrant, colorful super bloom this spring.
But there is one thing we know for sure. Just because we are out of the drought, for now, doesn’t mean that we are immune to droughts and climate change forever. So now that our region is back to its vibrant self, it’s important that we keep it that way, by keeping it clear of debris and not wasting our natural resources.
Over the last eight years and even longer, our homeowners have been getting creative with ways to conserve water, energy, and resources. These good habits have served us well in taking care of our home state during delicate times, and it’s important to continue keeping up with these smarter and sustainable practices for the long term.
In honor of Earth Day, celebrated every year on April 22, here are 11 ways that homeowners can make more eco-friendly decisions at home.
The “California-friendly” landscaping trend grew in popularity in an effort to have an attractive front yard, while making a point to conserve water throughout our recent drought. By limiting your use of grass in your landscaping you will drastically cut down on your monthly water bill, saving money and resources. There is a wide variety of native Californian plants that thrive with lower water supply and little-to-no fertilizing needs. Not sure where to begin? We have rounded up a few of our favorite drought-tolerant plants for you here.
Did you know your dryer likely uses up more energy than any other appliance in your home? If that’s not reason enough to reconsider your dryer use, you should also know that your dryer actually wears your clothes down and hurts their structural integrity much more than if you were to air dry. If you don’t have a good space to string out a clothesline, a collapsible drying rack is a fantastic alternative that takes very little space to store. Added bonus? The sun does wonders for getting your whites their whitest! That means you can also reduce your chemical consumption by eliminating the use of bleach in your loads of whites.
Composting is the perfect way to make sure your food scraps and other perishables don’t go to waste. If you’re not sure where to begin with composting, we have laid out the basics for you to get started here. If you’ve already started a compost bin, but you’re not sure what to do next, we also have you covered with the ways to know your compost is ready for use, and how to use it.
Although Southern California isn’t known for being a particularly wet region, parts of our state have experienced more rainfall this year than we have seen in decades. By setting up a process to collect the rain, you will be able to reuse the water and even further cut down your water bill. Rainwater is perfect for watering your garden, filling a bird bath, washing your car, or even bathing your pets. Depending on how much time and resources you want to invest in your water collection system, you can even take it a step further and purify the water for drinking. Be sure that your stored water is sealed tightly so it doesn’t get invaded by pests.
Cutting back on paper consumption in your home will greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money over time. Invest in a set of attractive cloth napkins to use in place of paper napkins when you’re dining at home. Not only will the cloth napkins elevate the look of your dining experience, but they are also easy to wash and reuse time and time again. In lieu of using paper towels for your cleaning needs, you can also invest in a set of hand towels to use, or take your conservation efforts a step further and repurpose old t-shirts or bath towels to cut into wash rags.
Your father was onto something when he would walk around your house turning out lights in empty rooms and unplugging electronics that weren’t currently being used. Simply keeping your devices plugged in 24/7 when they aren’t being used still uses up energy. Don’t forget to open up the windows to let in that beautiful natural light and turn off the light switch whenever you leave a room. If you have appliances plugged in that aren’t used regularly, unplug them and store them away. You will save energy and also reap the benefits of a decluttered counter space.
It’s important to remember when you are doing your spring cleaning that you should be sorting your belongings into 3 categories – keep, trash, and donate. It can seem easier to just trash items that you no longer need, but it’s always a better idea to donate items that are gently used and in good shape. Shopping secondhand is also a great way to be a little more environmentally conscious. If you’re looking for eclectic home decor items or a starting point for your next DIY project, a thrift or antique shop is the perfect place to look first.
When shopping for groceries, it’s easy to end up with a cart full of products that come in glass containers. Everything from pasta sauce to wine typically comes in glass containers that usually get left to the recycling bin, but we urge you to take a second look at your containers before you toss them. Glass jars with airtight lids are perfect for storing dry items in your pantry to create a more streamlined and organized look, or for storing your meal prepped breakfasts and lunches to grab and go from your refrigerator. Smaller jars are great for collection little household items together such as q-tips, matches, or small beauty samples. Wine bottles can be turned into a beautiful table arrangement when filled with fresh flowers. Be sure to take a closer look at your empty glass jars and containers before leaving them to recycle.
Eating less meat is one of the most impactful things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. We aren’t asking you to cut meat altogether, but making the effort to incorporate a few meatless dishes into your weekly meal plan can reap major environmental benefits. Not only will this choice make a positive impact on the health of our planet, but it will also encourage you to get more creative with ways to get your veggies in! Over time, cutting a few meat-based meals from your diet will also start to have a positive impact on your grocery bill too. It’s a win for everyone.
If you haven’t already switched to LED lightbulbs, it would be a great time to make that change. Energy efficient light bulbs use up to 80% less energy than standard bulbs, which will make a major impact on your electric bill. These light bulbs are also known to last up to 20% longer than standard bulbs, so they are well worth the upfront investment.
Single-use plastic bags are a thing of the past at grocery stores in California, so consider cutting out even more single-use plastic items. From reusable grocery bags to reusable water bottles and even reusable plastic cutlery, you can make a huge difference in the environment and your budget. Take a moment to consider all the cleaning supplies and food containers or dishes that you throw away after just one use, and search for some reusable alternatives online or in stores.
These 10 ideas are an effective and easy way place to get started on making sure you are creating a home that is as eco-friendly as it is comfortable and beautiful. Once you’ve started to implement these suggestions, don’t forget to share them with your friends and family to educate them on how they can make an impact at home too.
Do you have any favorite eco-friendly tips that we haven’t covered yet? Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know!