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How to Go Green in 9 Simple Steps

Do you dream of a healthier environment? So do we. And it’s never been easier to reduce your footprint!

Many people think sustainability requires a lot of time, energy and money, but it’s actually quite the opposite. At its core, sustainable living means living simply by using as few resources as possible, causing the least amount of damage to the environment, community and yourself.

So, with a definition like that, why does going green often get overlooked? We tapped Emmy Swift, a key member of American Family’s sustainability team, for her expert opinion.

“People still have the idea that sustainable living is expensive or difficult, or they tell themselves that the changes they make won’t have an impact on a grander scale,” she explains.

While giving your home a complete eco-friendly makeover is an excellent idea, it’s not a realistic option for most people. But the good news is, you don’t have to! Creating a lasting impact can be done with simple changes — and the best place to start is at home.

Emmy’s mantra? “Every action counts.”

“You and I recycling our pop bottles may not seem like a big deal, but every action is scalable. If one million people choose to recycle their pop bottles that can make a really big difference in what is going into our landfills.”

Change Wasteful Habits Around Your Home

Ready to turn that dream of a smaller global footprint into a reality? Here are some ideas that you can incorporate into any home — from the biggest mansions to the smallest apartments.

Think outside the landfill

Alternate text think-outside-the-bin

Taking the time to sort and recycle is the easiest way to create a sustainable home. Besides the usual aluminum, glass, paper and plastics, other things in your home can be recycled too — it might just take a little creativity and effort. Things like eyeglasses, cellphones and other electronics can be recycled by particular recycling programs.

Check out programs like Reuse-a-Shoe where you can bring your used shoes into any Nike outlet store, Bikes for the World and Terracycle, too. They help reduce waste and support those in need at the same time.

Avoid excessive packaging


Do you often eat prepackaged meals with disposable trays or individually bagged ingredients, such as ready-made microwave dinners? Invest in a few reusable lunch containers and start preparing your own pre-made meals. Not only will it cut down on landfill waste, you’ll likely end up eating healthier too!

For items you purchase often or use in large quantities (for example, cereal or flour), consider buying a single big package rather than multiple small packages.

Need to buy some items in small amounts? Look for sellers that package their items in recycled or recyclable material — it’s worth paying a bit more to help the environment!

Unsubscribe your mailbox

Man sitting on a couch and working on his laptop

Let’s be real — most catalogs, coupons and credit card offers that land in your mailbox go directly into the trash, right? Divert those mailers into your recycling bin, then opt out of junk mail with a service like DMAchoice.

Are you an American Family Insurance customer? Going paperless not only makes finding your important insurance documents easier — it can save you money, too.

Switch to LED lights


Many energy-saving light bulbs now cost less than standard incandescent light bulbs — and they last even longer. Conserving energy is possible with light bulbs that use 25 to 80 percent less energy. That means less wasted energy and lower electricity bills.

Want to make your life even easier and go green at the same time? Consider smart lighting, as well as other smart home technologies like thermostats, doorbells and garage doors.

Compost your organics


Let your trash do double duty when you create a compost bin in the yard. Composting is a great way to keep a lot of your household’s waste out of the landfill, and it creates nutrient-rich soil which is excellent for landscaping, gardening and even house plants!

If you live in an apartment and aren’t sure you have the space necessary, never fear. We put together an apartment composting guide to help you improve your plants with composting, no matter your space constraints.

Reduce water consumption


Common sense water-saving tips, like taking shorter showers and shutting off the water while brushing your teeth, are always smart rules to stick to. Challenge yourself to take it a step further with low-flow shower heads, too.

Walk away from the plastic water bottle water habit, and pick up a money-saving reusable water bottle. You can greatly reduce the amount of plastic you consume which can make a big impact on the environment — plus insulated reusable bottles can help cold water stay cool longer.

Dry your clothes on a line

Clothes hanging on a wire

We all love the feeling of putting on a sweatshirt fresh out of the dryer. But truth be told, dryers are energy consumption hogs. In the warmer months, drying your clothes can be as easy as hanging them outside on a line! When you’re able, make green living a reality and let nature dry your clothes.

Collect water with a rain barrel

A picture of a plant being watered

Instead of turning on your hose when you need to water your garden or plants, what if you could take advantage of last week’s rainstorm? With a rain barrel, you’ll save plenty of water over the course of the spring and summer months.

Keep in mind, this may not be legal in your state. Check with your local police department to make sure you’re not breaking any laws by collecting rainwater.

Boost your car’s gas mileage


Make your car more environmentally friendly by taking advantage of energy efficient tips that reduce the amount of gas you use to get to your destination. Here are our tips for maximizing your car’s gas mileage and helping the environment at the same time. You can make a huge impact on your carbon footprint by opting for public transport occasionally.

Get the Coverage Your Home Needs

Follow these tips to increase your overall well-being and bring you closer to your dream. And after you’ve made your lifestyle greener, ask your American Family agent about protecting everything you’ve worked so hard for. They’re always happy to help you get the peace of mind you deserve.

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Related Topics: Environment , Family , Community , Health