As the weather starts to cool down, many of us quickly reach for the thermostat or find ourselves turning on the lights a lot earlier in the evening. While spring and summer inspire environmentally friendly initiatives like planting trees and biking to work, autumn and winter can often put a damper on green living.
Fortunately, staying on Mother Nature’s good side during cooler months is easier than you think.
Go to school looking eco-cool: Journalist and eco-friendly writer Shirley Silk Gregory recommends green school supplies like biodegradable paper, plastic mugs and organizers. Make sure your tools are made from recycled materials, too. Many online office supply companies specialize in everything from refillable wood pens made from sustained-yield scrap wood to desks built from recycled rubber and bicycle parts. Need some No. 2 pencils? Don’t buy the standard brand, which comes right out of trees; instead, consider something like the Smencil, a pencil made from recycled newspapers that even comes in different scents like watermelon and very-berry!
Turn the lights off and switch to soy: We all know winter is approaching when our evening commute requires headlights. Once home, all the lights go on again – and eventually, you foot a bigger electric bill at the end of the month. So, try living pre-Edison era and light a candle; better yet, replace all those standard, paraffin wax candles with soy candles. As a byproduct of oil refining, paraffin candles not only rely on foreign crude oil markets, they also contain toxic carcinogens like toluene and benzene. Soybeans, on the other hand, are a sustainable and renewable resource grown in the U.S. By using soy candles, you’ll breathe easier – especially when the electric bill arrives.
Warm up to Mother Nature: Keeping your house or apartment heated while staying eco-friendly can be one of the biggest challenges come fall. Luckily, there are more options than simply cranking up the thermostat. First, weatherize your home: alternative heating expert Sam Streubel writes, “A 1/8” space between a standard exterior door and its threshold is equivalent to a two square-inch hole in the wall. Closing those gaps can save up to 15 percent in heating and cooling costs and reduces demand on heating and cooling systems.” Once you’ve patched up a few things, consider a fireplace insert if you’re thinking of a cozy night beside the flickering flames. Fireplaces suck more heat out of a house than they provide. However, an insert can make a fireplace 70 to 80 percent more efficient.
Although the weather may test our commitment to staying green, a few changes here and there can make a significant impact on the environment. If you can’t wait for March, use your extended indoor time to map out a vegetable garden or find the perfect place for a compost pile when the weather warms up. With a bevy of eco-friendly products and guides waiting to help you, there’s no excuse not to be green – even if your front lawn is covered in white.