Earth Day, the day when the environmentally astute nag us about the future of the planet, is nigh upon us. While most of us don’t mind being kind to the earth in theory, it requires a great deal of effort and we are lazy. Buying local produce is fine when we make it to the farmer’s market. Sustainable food, yes, sure – but we’re not so enthusiastic if we have to give up our cars. Before packing your bags for a tree-planting stay on a kibbutz, here are some lower-energy ideas to get in on the healthier earth movement.

Go Native

I’m referring to plant choices (otherwise, this would be an offensive subheading). To hear some tell it, potted plants are miracle workers, credited with boosting our immunity, increasing productivity, and reducing overall stress. Even if you think the New Age healing power of plants stuff is a bunch of claptrap, most people agree that a nice garden adds something to curb appeal.

Adapting your horticulture to the local ecosystem is politically astute because native plants are suited to local weather conditions (relative heat or cold, humidity, and rainfall), and requires little ecological (and economical) maintenance. In fact, growing native plants might reduce your overall carbon footprint by sucking up some of the excess sludge you’ve left behind in other areas of your life.

Get a Faucet Aerator

I know what you’re thinking – what in Sam Hill is a faucet aerator? A faucet aerator injects air bubbles into a water stream to reduce the amount of water coming out of a faucet. This is useful when: washing hands, brushing teeth, heating water. Not so useful when: filling a bucket or a pot, because you need X amount of water to fill a container, regardless of how long it takes to flow out of a faucet. Still, a faucet aerator is a small thing, and it doesn’t matter so much how strong the flow of a faucet is.
Please note that I’m not advocating a low-flow showerhead, which is a big thing. You should only get a low-flow showerhead if you are certain it won’t bother you. If a low-flow showerhead won’t bother you, you are amazing.

Use the AC and Heater Sparingly

Easier said than done! In California, we rarely need the heat (an extra sweater and blankets at night for a few months per year), but the summer without the AC seems impossible if you live more than ten miles away from the coast. Still, allowing your body five to ten minutes to adjust to the house temperature before turning on climate control helps your body learn to adjust to its environment naturally. Our bodies are adaptable to temperature changes (within reason) if we allow them time. Provided you are not in immediate danger of succumbing to weather-related illness, give yourself a few minutes and then when you do turn on your AC or heater, keep the thermostat set a few degrees higher or lower than usual. Small changes make significant differences on both your carbon footprint and the bill you receive from the energy company.

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