With Spring (finally!) on our doorsteps, we’ve been thinking about how we can better take care of the world around us. Earth Day is April 22, and we have no doubt that all of us could be doing a little more to make the world a greener and more sustainable place.
Many of us dutifully remember to toss our milk containers and pasta boxes in the recycling bin, but that’s the extent of the green living for most of us. Here, we’ve outlined a few small things you can do to help:
1. Change all your light bulbs to energy-efficient LED models. Making sure your appliances are up-to-date and energy-efficient can also make a huge difference.
2. Skip the hand-washing in favor of a fully-loaded dishwasher. Using your dishwasher (especially an Energy Star efficient model) can save up to 5,000 gallons of water a year, and uses less than half the energy as hand-washing your dirty plates.
3. Wash your laundry in cold water. Heating water for laundry consumes 90 percent of the energy needed to wash your clothes.
4. Unplug your phone chargers. These “energy vampires” are still sucking energy even when there’s no phone attached to the other end of your charger—and adding 10 percent to your energy bill every year. Time to unplug ’em when they’re not in use.
5. Use reusable bags to shop. Once you get in the habit of bringing them with you, you’ll never leave the house without one again. Did you know that plastic shopping bags make up 10 percent of washed-up debris on our coastlines? Or that they take anywhere from 15 to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill? Even more reason to make the switch.
6. Eat local. Eating food that’s grown and produced locally not only supports our local economy but also reduces pollution and energy used to transport otherwise far-flung items.
A version of this article originally appeared on HVmag.com.