Dream of Going Green? Here's How to Start.

Do you dream of a healthier environment? So do we. And it’s never been easier to reduce your footprint!

Many people think sustainability requires a lot of time, energy and money, but it’s actually quite the opposite. At its core, sustainable living means living simply by using as few resources as possible, causing the least amount of damage to the environment, community and yourself. So, with a definition like that, why does going green often get overlooked? We tapped Emmy Swift, a savvy member of American Family’s sustainability team, for her expert opinion.

“People still have the idea that sustainable living is expensive or difficult, or they tell themselves that the changes they make won’t have an impact on a grander scale,” she explains. “Both of these arguments are crazy!”

While giving your home a complete eco-friendly makeover is an excellent idea, it’s not a realistic option for most people. But the good news is, you don’t have to! Creating a lasting impact can be done with simple changes — and the best place to start is at home.

Emmy’s mantra? “Every action counts.”

“You and I recycling our pop bottles may not seem like a big deal, but every action is scalable. If one million people choose to recycle their pop bottles that can make a really big difference in what is going into our landfills.”

Ready to turn that dream of a smaller global footprint into a reality? Here are some ideas that you can incorporate into any home — from the biggest mansions to the smallest apartments.

Think outside the bin. Recycling is a no-brainer, but taking the time to sort and recycle is the easiest way to create a sustainable home. Besides the usual aluminum, glass, paper and plastics, other things in your home can be recycled too — it might just take a little creativity and effort. Things like eyeglasses, cellphones and other electronics can be recycled by particular recycling programs.

Check out programs like Reuse-a-Shoe, Bikes for the World, Terracycle and the National Crayon Recycle Program, too. They help reduce waste and support those in need at the same time.

Buy smart. Is your pantry a disarray of boxes, bags and containers? In addition to looking messy, it’s also a landfill’s nightmare. Instead, steer clear of prepackaged goods, and stock up on cereal, grains, nuts and more in your grocery store’s bulk section. It will save you money, and cut down on needless packaging. Plus, your pantry shelves will look amazing.

Need to buy some items in small amounts? Look for sellers that package their items in recycled and/or recyclable material — it’s worth paying a bit more to help the environment!

Clear your mailbox. Let’s be real — most catalogs, coupons and credit card offers that land in your mailbox go directly into the trash, right? Divert those mailers into your recycling bin, then opt out of junk mail with a service like DMAchoice. And while you’re at it, sign up for paperless bills through your cable, credit card and other companies you regularly make payments to.

Are you an American Family Insurance customer? Going paperless not only makes finding your important insurance documents easier — it can save you money, too.

See the light. Energy-saving light bulbs like ENERGY STAR may cost more than your standard light bulb, but they last longer and use 25 to 80 percent less energy than regular bulbs. That means less wasted energy and lower electricity bills. We’d call that a win-win.

Want to make your life even easier and go green at the same time? Consider smart lighting, as well as other smart home technology like thermostats, doorbells and garage doors. Check out some other ways you can opt for a smart, energy-efficient home.

Compost the most. Let your trash do double duty when you create a compost bin. Composting is not only a great way to keep a lot of your household’s waste out of the landfill, but it creates nutrient-rich soil which is excellent for landscaping, gardening and even house plants!

If you live in an apartment and aren’t sure you have the space necessary, never fear. We put together a guide to help you improve your plants with composting, no matter your space constraints.

Watch your water. Common sense water-saving tips like taking shorter showers and shutting off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving are always smart rules to stick to. Challenge yourself to take it a step further with low-flow showerheads, which save water and money, and are super easy to install.

Ditch plastic straws. It might not seem like much, but every time you dine out and use a plastic straw with your rink, you’re contributing to plastic pollution. The good news? Tons of companies are abandoning them in favor of recyclable or reusable options.

Want to help the cause? Bring your own reusable steel straw with you to restaurants, or opt for no straw at all.

Dry your clothes on a line. We all love the feeling of putting on a sweatshirt fresh out of the dryer. But truth be told, dryers use a ton of energy — and in the warmer months, drying your clothes can be as easy as hanging them outside on a line! When you’re able, save some energy and let nature dry your clothes.

Collect water with a rain barrel. Instead of turning on your hose when you need to water your garden or plants, what if you could take advantage of last week’s rainstorm? With a rain barrel, you’ll save plenty of water over the course of the spring and summer months.

Boost your car’s MPG. Getting more miles out of your gas tank is actually better for the environment — the less gas you use to get to your destination, the better. Here are our tips for maximizing your car’s MPG and helping the environment at the same time.

Incorporating even a few of these tips into your household will not only create an enormous impact on your global footprint, but it can also increase your overall well-being and bring you closer to your dream. Celebrate your contribution to the environment by taking time to explore nature and enjoy the world that you and your home are helping to protect!

And after you’ve made your lifestyle greener, ask your American Family agent about protecting everything you’ve worked so hard for. They’re always happy to help you get the peace of mind you deserve.

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Related Topics: Environment , Family , Community , Health