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How to Be More Environmentally Friendly

POPSUGAR / in partnership with / Earth Hour

Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
There’s only one Earth, so in honor of World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour, here is how you can start being more environmentally friendly today.

Educating yourself on climate change and smart energy is more important today than ever before. The future of our planet relies on the global civilization to make good choices when it comes to things like electricity usage and caring for our natural resources. Ahead, we've rounded up eye-opening statistics and actionable ways to address them. Just imagine the impact if everyone came together and made one small change every day.

1. Using cold water can save up to 80 percent of the energy required to wash clothes.

Washing clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water can prevent up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. (Bonus: cold water is gentler on delicates and prevents dark or bright colors from fading as much.) Additionally, more outdated washing machines use an average of 41 gallons of water per load. Newer, more efficient machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load. Advanced modern technology has become more environmentally friendly, so don't hesitate to invest in these types of appliances when furnishing your home.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim

2. Microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens do.

It's totally understandable that the two cannot be interchangeable sometimes, but all it takes is a bit more thought to conserve. Be mindful when cooking, and don't leave food in the microwave or oven longer than necessary. It's always better to opt for less time and heat your food for a few more minutes or seconds than to overuse your appliances.

3. Artificial lighting accounts for 44 percent of electricity use in office buildings.

When you think of all the electronics in your office, this number is substantial. More so than computers and appliances, the lighting in offices accounts for almost half of the building's energy use. Make sure to turn off the lights when you're leaving an empty room and take advantage of natural light when possible.

4. Adjusting your thermostat by two degrees can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Yes, as little as two degrees can make a world of difference, and you likely won't even detect the temperature change. Lowering your thermostat by this amount in the Winter and increasing it by the same amount in the Summer can help reduce about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

5. Refrigerators alone account for 1/6 of a home's energy use.

We're all guilty of mindlessly opening and closing our refrigerator doors in search of a tasty snack. This habit is more detrimental than you'd think. Opening the door can add up to anywhere between $30 and $60 to the average family's yearly electricity bill. Try to be more conscious of your actions and choose energy-efficient models when replacing or buying a new fridge.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

6. The US uses 100 billion plastic bags annually, and less than one percent are recycled.

The astronomical amount of plastic bags used each year in our country alone equates to consuming roughly 12 million barrels of oil. What's even more harmful is that less than one percent of plastic bags are ever recycled. Opting for reusable bags when grocery shopping can help reduce your carbon footprint, and they're usually sturdier and more reliable than the alternative.

7. The average American citizen uses 50 pounds of tissue paper per year.

One person, 50 pounds! We all love soft and gentle tissues, but blowing through them mindlessly is just like wasting paper. When buying tissues, look for ones that are made of reusable materials. The best option is 100 percent recycled.

8. A running tap can waste over six liters per minute.

For reference, six liters is more than one and a half gallons. Picture those big gallon jugs you see at the supermarket. That's how much water can be wasted in one single minute if you leave the faucet running. Don't forget to shut off the water while scrubbing your pearly whites or lathering up in the shower.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim

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