4 Sustainable Lifestyle Changes That Save You Money

Sustainable Lifestyle

Everyone wants to have a positive impact on the world, but sometimes it feels like living a sustainable lifestyle is only for the wealthy. But the ads you see for expensive “green” products or organic produce don’t tell the whole story.

They don’t even tell the best story. The most effective sustainable lifestyle changes are free and save money in the long run.

Reduce Food Waste

Keep an eye on what you’re throwing away. 165 billion pounds of food are thrown away in the United States each year. That food represents meals that could have fed hungry families and has a significant environmental impact.

Energy and water are used to produce food, even if it isn’t eaten. Wasted food is wasted resources. Discarded food goes into landfills and produces 34% of emissions of the greenhouse gas methane in the U.S.

The solution is to buy what you need and eat what you buy. Finish up those leftovers and keep an eye on your produce so it doesn’t go bad.

Reduce Energy Consumption

Decreasing the amount of energy you use during a regular day is remarkably quick and easy. Each of these small things contributes to sustainability and saves money.

  • Turn down the thermostat. A reduction of even one degree can reduce your heating costs by 10%
  • Turn off unused lights and appliances
  • Don’t use your dryer for every load of laundry—air-dry clothes instead
  • Walk or ride your bike to do errands instead of driving
  • Turn off the water while you scrub your hands or brush your teeth
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn down your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees—most people won’t notice a difference and it saves both energy and money

Most people can make some, if not all, of these energy-saving changes. Living a sustainable lifestyle is a group effort and every change adds to the greater goal.

Reduce Plastic Use

Plastic pollution not only sits in landfills for centuries, but it also clogs waterways and devastates sea life. But you can reduce your contribution to the problem and become part of the solution by taking some relatively simple steps.

  • Do not use single-use plastic bags—carry compact reusable bags
  • Do not use plastic straws. This is not a political issue, it’s a simple way to reduce plastic pollution
  • Avoid products in plastic containers. This seems tricky, but simple things like using bar soap instead of liquid soap reduce plastic waste and save money
  • Carry reusable glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water

Reduce Consumption

Living a sustainable lifestyle means knowing when to reuse, repurpose, swap, or borrow instead of buying new things that add to the planet’s collective clutter.

Use your local library. Buy clothing and other household goods used at local thrift shops and yard sales. Borrow and lend tools and infrequently used items. And finally, think before you buy. Saving money and saving the planet go hand in hand when you know how to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Related Reading: 4 Easy Ideas to Reduce Your Food Waste

How to Clean a Coffee Maker

Coffee Maker

Every coffee lover knows how frustrating it can be to clean out all the build-up that accumulates in your coffee maker over days or weeks of regular use. Even with careful scrubbing, warm water, and dish soap, those stubborn stains and residue just won’t get out. The worst part? They can make your coffee taste bitter and remove a lot of the aroma and flavor from the roast.

Since you’ll be drinking the stuff it makes, you should never use strong cleaners to get rid of coffee build-up. Yes, they’re totally effective at getting the gunk out of your coffee maker, but you’re risking poisoning your next cup of joe! Not to mention the effect those harsh chemicals have on the environment when you throw them out. That’s why we’re here to show you how to clean a coffee maker the eco-friendly way.

Here’s the full list of everything you’ll need to clean a coffee maker:

  • Vinegar
  • A clean rag or tissues
  • Clean coffee filters
  • Water (preferably running water from a sink)

That’s it! No need to resort to expensive cleaning solutions; everything you need can be bought at your local drugstore for less than $10. This is one of the ways you’re wasting your money on unnecessary purchases.

Now that you’ve got everything ready, it’s time to get to cleaning!

Fill your pitcher to the brim with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Now, let it sit for a few minutes while the solution works its magic. The acetic acid in white vinegar will slowly kill bacteria and munch away at the calcium buildup in your coffee maker.

Now, stick a clean filter on your maker and pour about half of your water-vinegar solution into the reservoir. Power on your coffee maker and let it brew for a few minutes.

Next, turn off the coffee maker and let it just sit. Again, leaving it to rest will allow the acid in the vinegar to get to work tearing down mineral buildup. The heat from the brew will accelerate the process.

It’s time to pour all of your vinegar-water out of your pitcher and reservoir and down the drain.

You don’t want your coffee to taste like vinegar, so we’ve got to get all of that stuff out of there! Fill your coffee maker with regular water and let it brew. Do it twice to make sure all the vinegar’s gone.

Now, grab a rag or tissue and dry it out.

See? That wasn’t so hard! Do this at least once a week to keep your coffee maker clean and brewing consistently delicious coffee.

Related Reading: 6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Habit More Sustainable

4 Easy Ideas to Reduce Your Food Waste

Ideas to Reduce Your Food Waste

Did you know that between 30 and 40% of our food gets thrown away? This estimate means that an astonishing 133 billion pounds of food are wasted in the US in a year. There is a need for people to think for ideas to reduce food waste.

This sounds like a staggeringly huge problem, and it is, but there are ways you can help. There are 330 million people in the US. If everyone put in the effort to reduce their food waste, we could watch that number dwindle.

You can get started with these easy ideas to reduce your food waste!

1. Plan Before You Shop

Most people buy too much food when they go to the grocery store. They might buy things on impulse, pick up stuff because they “might” need it, or simply buy in bulk because it works out to be cheaper per item. Unfortunately, it won’t be cheaper if you throw half of it away and, unless you’re going to use it, you really shouldn’t buy it.

To that end, make a plan for what you’ll eat over the next few days. Make a list of items you’ll need to complete that plan. When you head to the store, stick to that list and try to ignore the fact that the Oreos are on sale…

2. Use All Your Food

Before heading to the store, make sure you really need to go. Use up all the perishables you bought last time before going out to buy more. Challenge yourself to come up with ways to use up items you have on hand.

As you get better about planning your shopping trips, this will become less of a problem. You’ll have everything you need to create the recipes you planned.

3. Organize Your Fridge

How many times have you forgotten about a head of lettuce and discovered a sludgy brown mess in the back of your produce drawer? This usually happens because everything is crammed haphazardly into your fridge and you can’t see stuff well.

To avoid this, clean out and organize your refrigerator. Plus, always make sure to put newer food behind older food to help ensure the older one gets used up first.

4. Learn to Love Leftovers

Leftovers sometimes get a bad rap because some people don’t like reheating food. But we’re here to tell you that leftovers are amazing! If you’re the one responsible for cooking in your house, you probably already really appreciate leftovers.

The trouble is, they can often get forgotten in the fridge. Store your leftovers in clear containers (as opposed to opaque) so you can see them and will be more likely to eat them. If you often have leftovers, designate one leftover day each week to use up all the random bits in your fridge.

Doing Your Part

We’ve just barely scratched the surface of all you can do to help cut down on food waste. You can also get friendly with your freezer, appropriately plan your portion sizes, make compost and use food scraps to fertilize your garden, and so much more! Hope these ideas to reduce your food waste help you and your community achieve environmental goals.

For more great tips and tricks, check out more news and updates on sustainability and home life!

6 Ways to Make Your Coffee Habit More Sustainable

Make Your Coffee Habit More Sustainable

Coffee is the second most sought after commodity in the world. There is no denying that coffee has a large impact on the environment. Unfortunately, that impact is mostly negative. Many factors involved in coffee consumption and production are harmful to our planet. However, this does not mean that we have to give up our daily coffee. Instead, we can become more mindful and make small adjustments to make our coffee habit more sustainable.

1. Coffee beans

Buying coffee beans is the first step you can change to make your coffee habit more sustainable. The choice you make when selecting coffee beans can make the most significant contribution to your sustainability efforts. This will not only influence what type of coffee production you support, but also the social and economic effect on the coffee producers. Therefore, you should pay attention to labels that are Fairtrade or organic. By opting for Fairtrade coffee, you can support coffee farmers around the world and help protect the environment. You should also buy your coffee beans locally to reduce negative environmental effects of transportation.

2. Use more sustainable preparation methods

There are a lot of different methods and appliances to prepare your coffee. However, some of these appliances create an incredible amount of waste. Pod-machines, such as Nespresso, consume a lot of energy and produce waste that often cannot be recycled. More sustainable alternatives include drip coffee makers, the French press or aero press. If you prefer filter coffee, you should use reusable filters that are made out of metal or cloth. This will prevent additional waste from paper filters.

3. Buy a reusable coffee cup

Many coffee shops sell coffee in single-use plastic cups. These cups are not very environmentally friendly as they are often not recycled properly. If you are prone to buying takeaway coffees, you should bring your own refillable cup or flask. Coffee shops usually offer incentives for customers who do this and you may even get a discount on your coffee. However, if a disposable cup is unavoidable, you can use a 100% compostable coffee cup.

4. Reuse coffee grounds

Reusing coffee grounds does not necessarily mean putting them back into your coffee machine. To get as much use as possible out of your purchase, you can use the grounds for other benefits. Coffee grounds can act as a skin exfoliator, plant fertilizer and deodorizers for your fridge.

5. Milk and sugar dispensers

In order to avoid additional waste, you can use glass dispensers for your sugar. Single packaged coffee creamer and sugar creates a lot of harmful waste in the environment. By switching to glass containers, you not only reduce waste but you can also recycle them once you are finished with them.

6. Dispose of coffee grounds in compost bins

Approximately 6 million tonnes of coffee grounds get sent to landfills every year. To prevent coffee ground build up, you should use a compost bin to dispose of your grounds. These must be composted for around 100 days before you can use them as fertilizer. 

Related Reading: Coffee Brewing Method and Health – What You Need to Know

5 Tips on How to Choose a Solar Company for Your Home

how to choose a solar company

As the world begins to shift slowly toward renewable and sustainable energy sources, more people are deciding to live a green life and convert their home power supply to a renewable energy source.

Solar energy has proven to be the most popular, accessible, and affordable option for the average homeowner. Solar companies are popping up everywhere to keep pace with this growing demand.

But, in this burgeoning market, the question arises: How to choose a solar company? What should you consider when shopping around for an installer? 

For most homeowners, solar paneling may seem like a daunting endeavor. And, you know, it’s understandable to get a case of the buyer’s jitters when venturing into uncharted territory. The choice to convert your home power supply to solar energy and live your best sustainable life is a huge step, and you want to be sure it is done right. Have no fear.

Just keep reading for the top 5 things to consider when choosing a solar company for your home.  

1. Shop Around 

First things first—shop around! It would help if you did your research. If you have neighbors, friends, or family who have also gone solar, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations. It’s also a good idea to check out company reviews online. Where possible, look for local solar companies that have a well-established presence in the market. Going local may save you a lot of money in the long run.

A 2017 study by the NREL (National Renewable Energy Labs) discovered that large solar companies typically charge up to 10 percent more than smaller enterprises. The flashy, high-end branding that larger companies employ may look attractive. Still, it is in no way an indicator of quality or value for money. Seek assessments and quotes from at least 3-5 reputable companies. Also, be sure to check that the companies you consider are fully qualified and legally certified to do the job. 

2. Don’t Be Cheap 

 In your quest for cost-efficiency, do remember not to be cheap. While it is possible to get great deals, you should be wary of any installer whose prices seem suspiciously low compared to the competition. Chances are they may cut corners somewhere, which will inevitably cause you to spend thousands more than anticipated. 

3. Buy Your Equipment Outright

Where possible, it’s usually a good idea to steer clear of lease agreements. Large solar companies frequently prefer to offer their customers solar leases and power purchase agreements rather than selling the equipment outright. These may seem attractive at the outset but are unavoidably parasitic to the consumer.

These agreements often have escalator clauses in the contracts, which guarantee a higher profit for the company by continually draining your pocketbook. These terms are another reason to go with a smaller company. You may pay a bit more on the front end, but the long-term savings are worth it.   

4. Look into the Warranties 

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the standard warranty for your solar equipment. You also want to make sure that the contract warranty covers labor costs. 

5. Read the Fine Print

You probably already know how important it is carefully read contracts. But, for the sake of thoroughness, be reminded. Reading the fine print in your contract will stave off disputes. If your installer says that the service package includes something, make sure that it says so in the contract. 

Follow these five tips for a seamless transition to green, sustainable, earth-friendly energy. 

4 Energy Apps To Help You Go Green and Spend Less Green

Energy apps to go green and save more green

Saving energy and saving money are hot topics in today’s economic climate. Isn’t it amazing if you can control both from the palm of your hand?

You might not realize it, but having a smartphone is good for more than making calls, checking emails, and playing games. You can use it to track energy efficiency and save on electricity bills using innovative mobile apps. Renewable energy apps can be of great help for how to save energy and money in your home.

Technology can help you live a more sustainable life. Here is a list of energy apps that will help you adopt green living and a more mindful lifestyle.

 Energy Consumption Analyzer

This app works as a mobile database of your home energy use. It’s easy to lose track of your energy consumption until you get an unpleasant bill. Energy consumption analyzer provides accurate readings of your daily energy consumption. You can add your meters for electricity, gas, or water to the database and keep track of current meter readings.

The energy consumption analyzer lets you color-code readings and add comments to them for better understanding. The application asks you to input data from your meter and calculates the average consumption rate. It then displays a bar graph or table of the total amount of actually used energy during a day, week, or month to help you gain insights and view trends.

Energy Cost Calculator

While trying to cut down your energy consumption, it’s necessary to know how much energy you are using. Through the Energy Cost Calculator, you can calculate energy usage and operating cost of electrical equipment you use. It helps you analyze which appliances in your home use the most energy. 

This application lets you know how much an appliance costs to run over a period and allows you to control it. You can calculate the running cost of an appliance by entering the wattage and how often you use it. The results are not 100% accurate, as it does not have access to your tariff information, but it gives you an idea.

Energy Tracker

Energy tracker can evaluate and manage meter reading according to your electricity, gas, heat, and water consumption. It automatically detects meter readings and dates to provide a graphical analysis of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly consumption.

Energy tracker knows where you can save money by creating a report. It makes an estimate by comparing daily and monthly trends throughout the year. All data is saved to the application and will provide you with exclusive CSV reports on your energy consumption at home.

Smappee

Smappee manages your energy flows in a way that you can work, relax, and live without compromising on comfort. It gives you a clear insight into your energy consumption, and you can leave your home without any worries. Let the app control and automate your energy flows.

It provides you real-time readings for electricity, gas, water, and solar consumption. You can automate your appliances and let the application control their energy flows to optimize consumption. It also allows you to control energy use remotely using smart devices and plugs.

How often should you replace your coffee maker?

Not all coffee makers are created equal. There are stories of machines that last a lifetime while other coffee makers can’t go six months without breaking down. But why do the lifespans of different coffee makers vary so much?

Many things can affect the lifespan of a coffee maker, but mostly it’s about build quality and regular maintenance. Most solid machines will keep brewing quality joe for around five years, but you can extend its lifespan by a few more just by regularly cleaning the machine.

Water hardness plays a big role in determining how long your machine lasts. You might have to descale and perform maintenance on your machine more often if the water in your home is particularly hard. Even if your water is relatively soft, it’s always a good idea to create and stick to a descaling schedule, because calcium will build up in the tubes over time.

The complexity of your coffee maker is also important. More moving parts means more things that can potentially break. Coffee makers that have no tubes, pumps, or heating elements will pretty much last forever. In many cases, you can have your machine brewing like new by replacing the broken parts.

Now it’s time for you to take a good, long look at your coffee maker. How long have you had it for? Have you noticed a drop in the quality of the coffee it brews? If you’re unsure if it might be time to upgrade to a newer model, here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you know what to look for.

Does it even brew?

This might sound too obvious, but is your coffee maker even working? In many cases, a broken pump or failed heat element can be fixed or replaced. Of course, this depends on the brand of your coffee maker and whether spare parts are readily available.

If your coffee isn’t brewing at all, or your machine won’t turn on, it’s often not worth going through the trouble of repairing it — chances are good it will break again.

Before you start shopping for a new machine, check to see if your current warranty covers repairs or replacements. If you can get a new coffee maker, and you like your current model, then replacing it is the way to go.

Is there build-up in the tubes that can’t be removed with descaling?

Water with a high concentration of calcium is called hard water. While it isn’t a health risk, the calcium can collect in the tubes and corners of your coffee maker. Over time, the buildup can affect the performance of your machine, which is why it’s so important to regularly descale (remove buildup).

Over years of neglect and constant use, the calcified minerals can accumulate and harden to the point that descaling won’t be enough to fix the problem. Cleaning it might not be feasible or worth your time. This would mean it’s time for you to find a new coffee maker.