How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint for Earth Day
Protecting the planet is a top priority for many homeowners, especially since we all play such an integral role in helping sustainability efforts. In fact, a survey from the National Association of Home Builders found that an energy-efficient home is one of the most important factors for home-buyers. And with Earth Day coming up this Monday, April 22nd - we've put together a simple yet effective guide homeowners can utilize to help reduce their carbon footprint and give back to mother nature from the comforts of their backyard.
Artificial grass requires no maintenance to remain lush and keep its brilliant green color, so conserving water is easy with turf installation. This route is especially beneficial for folks in need of drought-tolerant landscaping, like California homeowners. In fact, outdoor landscaping takes up around 70 percent of water use in Southern California, and forgoing hosing the lawn could significantly reduce this rate.
Additionally, there's no need for mowing because artificial grass doesn't grow. This means homeowners won't spew gas into the air every summer Saturday afternoon, helping to conserve fuel and limit pollution. Plus, this type of lawn looks and feels real. You won't have to worry about fake-looking grass - your neighbors won't even be able to tell the difference.
Another way to conserve water through landscaping is to include only climate-appropriate plants in your yard. For instance, while locations that get plenty of rain can easily grow tropical plants like hibiscus, these water-hungry flowers will require a lot of extra maintenance in drought-prone regions, countering any conservation efforts. Homeowners in locales that don't see much rain are better off planting succulents like cactus, echeveria, aeonium and agave.
Swapping out conventional incandescent lighting for LED bulbs is an easy and effective way to make your home more sustainable. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lights use only a quarter of the energy incandescent lights require, and their lifespan is 25 times longer. To put that in perspective, if the U.S. achieved widespread use of LED lights in the next 11 years, the country would conserve enough energy to power 44 large electric power plants.
"LED lights use a quarter of the energy incandescent lights require."
LED bulbs are ideal for both indoor and outdoor lighting. In fact, they may even be a safer route for the backyard than other bulbs, as LEDs often emit better light quality. This way, you and guests can easy navigate through the yard long after the sun goes down. Plus, if you keep your porch lights on all night, LED lights won't burn out nearly as fast as incandescents.
Growing a garden of items like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini ensures you have fresh veggies to grill on the barbecue island, and it also helps save the planet. Consider how much fuel your vehicle burns as you travel to and from the grocery store to pick up produce. The same energy consumption occurs when trucks transport the vegetables from the manufacturer to the store. By planting a vegetable garden at home, you avoid contributing to this process.
If a bed of vegetables simply doesn't fit into your landscape design, consider initiating a community garden in your neighborhood. Not only does this expand the sustainability initiative and conserve even more energy, but it provides an excellent opportunity to spend time with other homeowners. Building connections with your neighbors is important for living a happy and healthy life. In fact, research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that having positive relationships with neighbors can actually reduce your risk for a heart attack!
Utilize Your Neighbors
If the above research wasn't motivation enough to bond with your neighbors, consider how these relationships can help benefit the planet. Carpooling is a go-to strategy for homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint - and it's quite convenient, too. This tactic is much more effective when those involved in the arrangement don't have to drive completely out of the way to pick up you or the kids. That's why neighbors make the perfect carpooling partners.
Your neighbors also come in quite handy when you need to borrow a cup of sugar. Sure, that's a cliche example, but the idea does have benefits for sustainability. If you can walk across the street instead of driving to the grocery store, you're limiting the fuel your car uses. Of course, you need to get to know your neighbors for either of these strategies to work, so invite them over for some backyard fun. Cook up those vegetables you grew in the garden and throw some burgers on the grill for a barbecue. Otherwise, invite everyone over to watch the big game together on your custom patio. Use every opportunity you can to foster those important connections.
With the right resources and guidance, conserving energy and resources not only creates a sustainable home, but it can also contribute to a happier and healthier lifestyle.