Are you trying to be more eco-friendly? When you really start diving into how to reduce your carbon footprint, it can be a little overwhelming. As an eco-friendly business in Tarrytown, we’ve made a lot of strides in recent years to go green, including switching to a variety of digital systems to reduce our reliance on paper, x-ray film, impression materials and chemical developers. We’ve also invested in 3D printers so we can print our own aligners, bonding templates and retainers in our office instead of having them shipped from halfway around the world.
Each seemingly small change we’ve made has really added up over time and allowed us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. The same goes for individuals. There are so many small, simple changes you can make to be more environmentally friendly that don’t require a ton of effort but can still have a positive effect. Here are eight you can try today:
1. Buy Second-Hand Items or Go for Higher Quality
We’re sure you’ve heard the phrase, “reduce, reuse, recycle” and that’s because it’s really the foundation of going green. To hone in on the reduce and reuse aspects, try reducing how much “stuff” you buy and when you do purchase things, consider opting for pre-owned items and giving them a second life. When you buy second-hand, the item already exists so no new resources are being used to create it. Plus, you’re keeping it out of a landfill.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while it’s tempting to buy things that are cheap, like say furniture or clothing, this isn’t the most eco-friendly approach. In fact, “fast fashion,” which is when retailers sell a never-ending cycle of trendy items at low prices, has a huge environmental impact, ranging from water contamination to carbon emissions from overseas shipping. If you do need to buy something new, you can actually reduce your carbon footprint by opting for higher quality items when it’s in your budget because they last much longer and you’re not constantly throwing them away and replacing them with new items. While it’s more expensive at the start, in the long-term you’re saving money since you’re reducing how often you’re shopping for these items.
Make it a point to recycle whatever you can. If you have the space, set up a recycling area in your home with a designated bin for recyclables so that you’re not tempted to just toss plastic or paper in the trash. Recycling reduces that amount of trash that goes to the landfill and helps lessen pollution because new raw materials don’t need to be collected for the items that are created with the recycled materials. Every municipality is different but, for example, in Tarrytown, we can recycle plastic with numbers 1 through 7, glass jars, corrugated cardboard boxes and a whole host of paper items.
This one is tied in to recycling since it is a form of recycling but we thought we’d give it its own point. Why? Well, according to the EPA, food and yard waste account for more than 28 percent of what we throw away! When they head to the landfill, these materials not only take up room, they also release methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Composting allows organic material like food scraps and grass clippings to break down naturally and later be used to enrich the soil. You can compost on your own or if you live in Sleepy Hollow or Tarrytown, there is a drop-off site for food scraps between the Recreational Center and the Senior Center at Pierson Park that’s open every day from 8am to 8pm. Look for the four gray bins and check out the list of what you can compost. You can also purchase compost storage kits at Warner Library at the adult circulation desk.
4. Eat Local and In Season When Possible
Whenever you can, try to eat locally produced, in-season food like what you’d find at a farmer’s market. You can reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing produce and meat that comes from nearby since shipping foods utilizes a lot fossil fuels for both the actual fuel and the refrigeration required to prevent food from spoiling. Processing plants are big sources of pollution as well. When you do go to the supermarket, sticking to the outside of the store is a simple way to reduce the amount of processed foods you’re buying. As an added bonus, it’s also good for your health!
5. Drive Less Often
Vehicles are a big source of carbon emissions and driving less often is a simple way to be more environmentally friendly. Bike or walk when you can. If that’s not realistic, consider carpooling with friends or taking public transportation. When you have errands to run that require using a car, batch them together so you’re putting in less mileage. You can also take measures to increase your fuel efficiency when you do drive like using cruise control for long stretches and keeping your car properly maintained.
6. Ditch Single-Use Plastics
Single use plastics like shopping bags, straws, cutlery and food packaging clog up landfills or end up in the environment. Additionally, they’re made from fossil-fuel based chemicals. These items are meant to be used once, sometimes for mere seconds, and then thrown away. When considering how to reduce your carbon footprint, this is an easy thing to tackle. Use reusable canvas shopping bags when you go to the store. Keep them in your car so that you always have them on hand. Bring your own stainless steel straw and bring a reusable water bottle with you instead of opting for bottled water.
7. Rethink Your Energy Efficiency at Home
As for how to reduce your carbon footprint at home, the possibilities are really endless. However, a good place to start is to think about your energy consumption. When it’s time to replace appliances, opt for ENERGY STAR® products. When your light bulbs burn out, go with LED ones. Turn off the lights when you’re not in a room and unplug electronic devices when you’re not using them. Another simple way to conserve energy and save on your utility bill is to wash clothes on the cold cycle and air dry on a drying rack.
8. Support Eco-Friendly Companies and Businesses
Consumers have a lot of power and by supporting eco-friendly companies it sends the message that being environmentally friendly is something you value. Beyond that, when you choose eco-friendly businesses, fewer natural resources are being expended on your behalf, which indirectly decreases your carbon footprint.
There you have it, eight simple ways to go green and become more environmentally friendly. If you’re interested in pediatric dental or orthodontic care that’s good for your smile and the environment, schedule a visit at 914 Smiles today by giving us a call at (914) 332-0900!