How to Break Your Eco-Harmful Habits

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews
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We know you want to do your best to help the environment but the news about climate change can sometimes feel so overwhelming that it’s easier to make a vague promise to yourself about doing better, later just to get on with your day.

Luckily, doing your part to help the environment doesn’t have to be a big deal. Some of our most eco-unfriendly activities are just bad habits that we can change by replacing them with healthier options. Breaking bad habits is easiest when you concentrate on just one issue at a time, so chose one from the list below to get started on your new, greener lifestyle:

Stop Wasting Water

If you’re one of those people who love a long, hot shower, you’re wasting gallons of water every day (not to mention the energy it takes to heat that water to spa-like comfort levels). Remind yourself to use less by setting an alarm on your phone to let you know when your five to eight minutes in the shower are up. Pair this training with a new, low-flow showerhead, and you won’t have to feel guilty about getting clean.

Stop Wasting Electricity

Electricity is such a major part of our modern lives that we barely even think about it, and that means we end up wasting a lot of it. To train yourself to turn off the lights when you leave the room, try putting some bright yellow electric tape on all your light switches.

Seeing that bit of color in the corner of your eye will draw your attention to the switch and be a reminder to turn it off. Once your new habit is established (give it about two months), you can remove the tape. Switch to low-wattage LED bulbs for bonus points.

Stop Eating Fast Food

Though convenient in a pinch, eating at fast food restaurants takes a big toll on the environment. When you spend money there, you’re creating a market for factory-farming systems that use unethical and unsustainable animal husbandry practices.

Even if you don’t eat meat, the carbon footprint of shipping all that processed food across the country is huge. Vow to do better by turning into the grocery store parking lot instead of the drive-thru whenever you get a craving. To give yourself incentive, make a reward jar that you add $5 to every time you pass on fast food. When the jar is full, treat yourself to a dinner out somewhere really nice.

Stop Drinking Bottled Water

It takes 2,000 times as much energy to produce a bottle of water than it does for the same amount of tap water, and the impact of all those plastic bottles is enormous. You can break your bottled water habit by buying just one great, reusable bottle and carrying it with you to refill when you’re thirsty. Get a filter if you don’t like the taste of your water, but rest assured that tap water is safe and is the more eco-friendly choice.

Stop Driving Everywhere

Your car’s emissions are a major contributor to global warming, so cutting back on driving can have a big impact on everything from reducing air pollution to using less fossil fuel. During the week, leave the car at home and use public transportation for your commute to work instead.

If that’s not possible, try declaring car-free weekends. Get your errands done on the way home from work during the week, and vow to walk or use your bike on Saturdays when you have the extra time to get places. Your body will thank you, too!

Helping the environment is all about taking small but important steps to live a greener lifestyle. If you focus on breaking just one bad habit at a time, you’re much more likely to achieve success than if you try to change everything at once. The important thing is to get started, so give one of these options a try.

Photo Credit:  Startup Stock Photos 

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