Spring is the season of renewal, and while that's often translated to mean spring cleaning, there are other fresh earth-friendly starts we should make as well.
With the snow (mainly) melted and the cold (almost) vanquished but life's pace not yet dialed up all the way to summer, this is the year's best moment to invest a little time making small changes like these that help us live more sustainably:
- Give your lawn some love. Before your grass gets thick, rake up its thatch, that mat of old, tangled grass stems and other organic matter between growing grass and the actual ground. Thatch wastes water, which runs off your lawn before it's absorbed. Once you've de-thatched, use an aerator to poke holes in the soil that let water and oxygen get to the roots for healthier lawns with less watering.
- Get your rot on. Start composting in an outdoor bin into which you can deposit all your yard waste, vegetable scraps, and other organics all summer long. It's a more sustainable destination than a landfill and the compost you harvest will help your green spaces stay healthier.
- Chill out. Few refrigerators show their actual temperature and most control dials are a crap shoot. So get a small thermometer and take your own fridge's temperature. You want your freezer around 0° and the main compartment at about 38°. Anything lower is wasting energy on cooling you don't need.
- Heat up. Insulating your water heater with a pre-cut, wrap-around blanket made for the purpose costs about $25 but can save up to 9% of your energy costs and as much as $45 every year. It's an easy springtime task that pays dividends all year.
- Enlighten your outdoor fixtures. Exterior lighting is coming into its peak season, but many fixtures use high-wattage incandescent bulbs. A traditional 120-watt type burning four hours a night uses about $20 worth of electricity per year. But an LED equivalent costs just $3.33 per year, and it will last for 17 years, saving as much as $280 during its lifetime.
- Veg out. Start Meatless Mondays in your family. Going vegetarian one day a week can have a big impact on the environment, reducing water consumption and carbon emissions.
- Slay your vampires. Any device whose indicator lights are always on or that you can turn on instantly via remote control sucks up energy even when "off." These "vampire loads" cost about $100 per year in the average home. That's an extra month's power bill for me! Get some power strips with their own master switches for your home entertainment and computer desk areas. Plugging everything in and keeping those switches off until you need the connected gear will stake the heart of home's own vampires.
Small changes like these can make a big difference in the health of the world we share, so spring into action and enjoy all the good things that will starting growing as soon as you do!
The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!