Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. In celebration (if you can call it that), I am posting a list of 10 eco vices to give up for lent, even if you're not Catholic. They're simple things anyone can do, and choosing even just one will still help save the only planet we've got.
1. Unnecessary Driving - If you're close, just walk. Otherwise, try to plan multiple errands in one trip.
2. Paper and Plastic Bags - 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide, and they are generally not reused or recycled. Purchase a couple of fabric shopping bags for $1 to take in with you. And they won't break open spilling your groceries onto the ground while you're walking down the driveway. It happens.
3. Elevators and Escalators - Taking the stairs saves energy with the added bonus of an opportunity to get in some cardio.
4. The Machine Dryer - This may not work well right now, but the sun will soon return with spring. At least that's what I tell myself. Regardless, the outdoors is the biggest, cheapest natural dryer we've got.
5. Typical Toilet Paper - This is an American statistic, but I am sure its comparable for us too. If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water and save nearly 1 million trees. When the prices for each in the store are the same, why not?
6. Conventional Cleaners - There are so many plant-based, biodegradable options on the store shelves these days, and with the power of the internet there are countless recipes for homemade concoctions at our fingertips to lessen the chemicals and toxins being brought into our homes.
7. The Phone Book - By using just 500 less phone books, we could save up to 31 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution, and 4,077-kilowatt hours of energy. Opt out, and use Canada's White Pages instead.
8. Inexplicable Bathroom Faucet Usage - It just makes sense to turn the water off while you brush your teeth. If you already do, take it a step further and use a cup of water.
9. 2 Degrees - Pull out a sweater or blanket, and set your thermostat 2 degrees lower than usual. It will save energy and your utility bill.
10. Bottled Water - This one is a pet peeve of mine because I personally find it so unnecessary and expensive. Just making the plastic for all those bottles consumes some 1.5 million barrels of oil, enough to power 100,000 cars for a year. If you want purified water, filter it through a Brita, and anyone can carry a reusable water bottle with them.
I hope you found something you can work into your daily life. If you did choose one to change in your life (regardless of lent), leave a comment and let me know which one. Oh, and don't forget, you get Sundays off!