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

Do you dream of a healthier environment? So do we. And it’s easier than you might think 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 and 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 of course 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.”

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

Think Outside the Bin. Yes 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. Check out programs like Reuse-a-ShoeBikes for the WorldTerracycle and the National Crayon Recycle Program – and those are just a few!

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.

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? Opt out of junk mail with services like DMAchoice and CatalogChoice. And while you’re at it, sign up for paperless bills!

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. 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!

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.

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!


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