It’s A Great Time to Adopt A New Easy, Green Habit!
It’s the start of a new year and everyone is talking about the new habits they plan to adopt, me included. I’m not going to lie, changing a habit is hard! It takes a lot of focus, determination and time. Now consider trying to change the habits of others – especially your family members. However, given the right incentive (no, not a bribe!) all of the effort and time will be worth it. Hopefully this post encourages you to begin to think about your family’s green habits!
What Is A Habit?
A habit is defined as, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” What are your family’s (not so) green habits? Are they in the habit of leaving the water running while brushing their teeth? Are they in the habit of leaving lights on even after they leave a room? Are they in the habit of tossing all trash into one garbage can? If you are like most families you have some of these habits but have never stopped to think about why you are doing them and why or if you should change them.
Here’s one last fact about habits that is actually pretty interesting. A study conducted by a health psychology researcher at University College London concluded that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic – 66 days to be exact. Check out this article on the Huffington Post for more info about the study.
Green Habits You Can Adopt
Use Cloth Paper Towels
Did you know that 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year? That’s over 45 pounds of paper towels per person, per year. You can definitely make a dent in that by adopting a new habit and switching to cloth “paper” towels instead! Here are three easy options:
A super easy, cheap option to using paper towels, that you can probably implement today, is to use old t-shirts or towels. Dig them out of their hiding places in your house and put them to good use. Just cut them up into a paper towel-like size and you’re ready for messes!
If you’re into something a little fancier or are looking for a particular color scheme pick up some small, kitchen towels as an alternative to paper towels. They can be stashed in a kitchen drawer or stored on the counter in a cute basket for easy access when needed. It’s easy to pop them in the washer once a week ready to go for the next mess.
My favorite option is the cutest of the alternatives to paper towels on the list! These cute, rolls of cloth paper towels fit a paper towel holder just like the paper rolls except they aren’t paper! They snap or Velcro together to form a roll of towels so you still get the satisfying feeling of pulling a towel off the roll.
Use LED Light Bulbs
A big chunk (34.6%) of a family’s energy use is on appliances, electronics and lighting – a perfect place start a new habit.
To use less energy when it comes to lighting is easy, right? Just turn off the light when it’s not needed and you’re done, but that’s only part of the equation. In addition to turning off the light you can also upgrade your bulb to a more energy efficient LED bulb.
Here is a quick comparison between incandescent bulbs (the ones you are probably most familiar with) and LED bulbs:
Now don’t be alarmed by the cost per LED bulb. Just keep reading until you get to the total cost for 50,000 hours. There is your rationale for spending the money on an LED bulb. Check out the number of KWh of electricity used over 50,000 ours numbers. Incandescent bulbs use a whopping 3,000 KWh while LEDs use just 500. That’s a huge savings on electricity and valuable natural resources.
Program Your Thermostat
According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2009 US homes on average used 41.5% of their total energy use on space heating and 6.2% of their total energy use on air conditioning (or 47.7%). That’s a big chunk worth exploring…and worth forming a new habit.
Get into the habit of programming or managing your thermostat settings. If you have a programmable thermostat, great! If not, you will have to manually adjust it but it’s doable.
If you are like me you may have had a programmable thermostat for a while but haven’t gotten around to actually programming it. Familiarize yourself with your thermostat. If you have to, dig out or go online to find the user’s manual for your model.
Here is a general guide for winter settings for a family with adults and children that are out of the house all day for work and school:
- 68°F about 30 minutes before family wakes up
- 56°F to 58°F at the time the family typically leaves the house
- 68°F about 30 minutes before the family starts arriving at home
- 56°F to 58°F once the whole family has gone to bed (and is bundled in warm pj’s and blankets!)
Ready For New Habits?
I know making and breaking habits is hard but if you are motivated and determined you will succeed. And why not focus on making your world a better place for you and your family? Your actions can serve as a valuable lesson for others around you. And these EASY actions are definitely doable – just give it 2 months!!