The Advantages of an Eco-Friendly Home

With eco-living trends on the rise, it’s important to know what benefits making your home environmentally friendly can offer.

I’ve seen a major increase in eco-living trends within the past decade. More and more people are making their homes more sustainable, effectively reducing their carbon footprints. What benefits does making your home green actually offer, though?

We all know it makes an impact on our lives and the environment, but what is the full extent of that impact? Can changes in just one home make a difference? After a little research, I found out exactly what benefits making your home into a green one offers.

Economic Benefits

Many view eco-living as an expensive commodity, but even home builders know that isn’t true. The cost of building an environmentally friendly home is not much higher than building a traditional one and builders are even receiving mark downs by meeting green design standards, effectively making the price about the same.

The materials to build these homes cost less, while they require less maintenance and have a higher property value. Couple all of that with tax benefits and energy efficiency, and you’ll see that eco-homes are boosting the economy.

Social Benefits

We as people are profoundly affected by the spaces we live in. Amenities like natural lighting, improved air quality, and chemical-free building materials all contribute to our overall well-being. So, a healthier home means a healthier you!

Those living in green homes experience a better sense of well-being, happier moods, and healthier vital signs just from the conditions that surround them.

Environmental Benefits

This is the more obvious category, but green homes might have more of an impact than you think. Cool roofing methods help to eliminate dangerous environmental changes from increased heat and promote water conservation, while reduced chemical emissions aid local wildlife. Significant waste reduction works to conserve resources while eliminating a portion of landfill mass.

Temperature moderation also aids in eliminating the need for excess energy with the implementation of smart thermostats. Also, probably the most obvious, these homes aid in combating climate change by reducing carbon footprints.

It’s amazing what choosing to implement eco-living practices can do to the environment, the economy, and our own health. While some us (and by that I mean me) cannot afford to move into one of these gorgeous homes, we can still do our part by making minor changes around our own homes to help them become more eco-friendly.

What ways do you make your home more green? Were you surprised by the health benefits these homes offer in the link like I was?

A Guide to Eco-Living in the City

It seems as though the two couldn’t possibly mix. A city and honest to goodness eco-living? Well, it turns out that you can make the impossible a possibility.

I spent a lot of time living in the city during and after my college years. With millions of residents, thousands of cars, and a constant array of lights, it can seem impossible to live an eco-friendly lifestyle when living in a metropolis. In reality, America’s major cities are leading the battle against climate change through eco-living practices.

While city-wide efforts have helped to implement better mass transit and solar energy and support local farming in nearby communities, that doesn’t mean city dwellers get a free pass on implementing eco-living practices. Here are some of the ways I was able to reduce my carbon footprint during those years.

Being a Minimalist

Sometimes it can be better to live with only what you need, and sometimes a small studio apartment forces you to do so. Instead of cramming things into the tiny home I lived in, I chose to let the city take care of my needs.

Within just a few blocks I could pick up fresh produce, take a walk in the park, or find live entertainment. I used public WiFi instead of wasting on resources on a personal internet connection, and even ditched my television in lieu of the various attractions around the area. I also saved on energy by unplugging anything that wasn’t in use, reducing the already minimal amount of electricity my apartment used.

Who Need a Car?

I will never understand why so many who live in cities choose to own a car. Maybe other cities do not have the same reliable public transportation mine did, but I was able to take the bus to and from work everyday. Aside from saving on vehicle costs, I did my part to reduce nearly 20 pounds of CO2 emissions by walking anywhere I needed to go besides work.

As an added bonus, the city I lived in had a bikeshare program that helped me travel to different areas when I needed to.

Sustainable Shopping

Every city has the grocery conglomerates, but they also have a wide variety of privately-owned local business to buy produce from as well. Choosing to buy local helps reduce the reliance on overseas shipping and using trucks to haul frozen food across the country. Plus, it is ten times healthier!

These are just some of the ways I was able to practice eco-living while residing within a city. For all of you other city dwellers out there, what ways do you help out the environment? Does your city make strides to fight climate change, too?

Easy Eco-Friendly Home Hacks That Save Money

While many view eco-living home renovations as drains on a bank account, there are a number of ways that going green can actually save you money.

I see a lot of articles online talking (or rather complaining) about how expensive it is to live an eco-friendly life. Sure, installing state of the art solar panels is going to run you an easy $20,000 but no one said you have to go that far just to reduce your carbon footprint.

In reality, choosing to make your home more environmentally friendly can actually save you money every month. Don’t believe me? Well, I have proof!

Cook From Scratch

Its no secret that cooking at home with fresh ingredients saves an incredible amount of money, but have you ever considered it’s eco-friendly benefits? I hadn’t either, but it makes sense when you think about it.

When you use fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market or your garden, you eliminate much of the energy used in processed foods. Processing in an industrial kitchen that certainly eats up energy; then food is wrapped up in plastic and hauled on a truck all the way to the constantly-running freezers at the supermarket. Cooking with local produce is a simple way to save money and do your part to conserve energy.

Use a Pressure Cooker

This was another one that I found surprising. Using a pressure cooker to make meals saves an astounding amount of energy when compared to other cooking methods. It also happens to be much faster way to get the job done.

That means less time waiting for a hot meal, less energy wasted, and less money spent on your electric bill.

Food

Start a Garden and Go Vegetarian

This is a two-for-one win in my book. Growing green beans, salad greens, and cherry tomatoes instead of buying veggies at the store can save you a ton of money in a year’s time. Even growing herbs in your windowsill can save hundreds over time.

Aside from zero-energy consumption, growing your own garden also allows you to make more veggie dishes than meaty ones. Not only is this cheaper, but greenhouse gas emissions have gone up in the past decade from an increase in livestock raised for slaughter. Saving animals, reducing causes of climate change, eating healthier, and saving money all at the same time is about as green as you can get.

My runners up for this list were:

  • Line dry clothes
  • Take shorter showers
  • and switch to organic cleaning products

What eco-lifestyle choices have helped you to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money each month?

Eco-Living on a Budget

Want to go green but can’t afford solar panels? Don’t sweat it, there are plenty of ways to live eco-friendly that won’t break the bank.

I would love to live in a zero-net energy home complete with solar panels, an enormous aquaponics garden, and water conserving showers but let’s be honest here. How many of us can actually afford such an extravagant home? I mean, eco-living is not cheap!

Thankfully, there are ways you can turn your household into an environmentally friendly one without draining your personal savings account. I’ve uncovered some of the most cost effective home improvements anyone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint can easily afford.

Heating Bills

Don’t have the money for a smart thermostat? Neither do I! Instead, conserve energy by setting your regular thermostat to 68 degrees in the wintertime.

Sure, you’ll have to bundle up to stay warm. Having reduced your energy consumption will have been worth it though!

Unplug it All

Even when things like your laptop go into sleep mode or are turned off, they still suck in power from your wall outlets. Unplug any form of charger or cord possible anytime you are not using that electronic device. This one is on me! (Because it’s free, get it?)

Compost It

Starting a compost pile is a cheap and efficient way to reduce waste in your home. All you need to buy is the composting bin, and the rest takes care of itself. Now you can feel good about recycling that banana peel instead of letting it rot in a landfill.

Electricity

Switch to Cloth

Do you find yourself using paper towels and napkins a lot? Take reducing your waste one step farther by using cloth napkins and cleaning rags instead. Yeah, you’ll have a little bit more laundry to do but it will cut back on your home’s waste more than you think.

Speaking of saving on paper-esque items, filing your taxes online saves a binder’s worth of paper! Choosing to use cloth or canvas grocery bags also helps to cut down on plastic waste.

Get a Houseplant

For around 10 to 15 dollars, you can purchase a new houseplant from nearly any hardware store. It will help keep the air quality in your home cleaner, and I personally love tending to my plants.

Repair Leaks

We can’t all be Tim the Tool Man from Home Improvement, but fixing a leak is usually as simple as tightening a cap or bolt. Leaky pipes under your sink can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water a year! All you have to do is give a few twists of a wrench to help conserve water and save on your utility bill.

These are some of my favorite examples, but there are hundreds of cheap ways to make your home more eco-friendly. What are some ways you’ve found succesful without breaking the bank?

My Top Eco-Living Tips

Looking to make your house more eco-friendly? Try out some of these methods I implement in my home.

The term “Eco-Living” covers a large spectrum of practices and habits that help to reduce our carbon footprints. I could write books on everything from creating a zero-waste home to eco-pet basics, but this is a blog post. So, if you are looking for ways to make your home as green as it can be, then try out some of my favorite practices.

Throw Away the Trash Can

One of the easiest ways to cut down on waste is by starting a compost bin. This allows me to re-use what would normally take up space in a land fill. Plus, it makes great fertilizer for my plants and garden!

Anything organic can be turned into compost, even the “cardboard” from egg cartons. It’s also an easy DIY project you can finish in a weekend.

Ditch the Grocery Bag

More and more stores like Whole Foods, Market District, and even Aldis are offering canvas bag alternatives instead of wasteful plastic ones. While it might cost you a few dollars, the benefits are worth the initial cost.

First of all, I used to find few things as frustrating as the gallon of milk I just purchased tearing through the grocery bag and breaking in the parking lot. Canvas is so much sturdier, making it useful for carrying milk jugs, soda bottles, and even for holding a few extra items when moving or heading on vacation.

Secondly, I’m doing my part to cut down on the roughly 10 billion bags making their way to land fills in my state. That means my state has to charge less taxes for the resources to dispose of those bags as well. It’s a win-win in my book.

o

Cut out the Meat

A plant-based diet has plenty of health benefits, but it can help reduce on nitrous oxide emissions at the same time. A recent study by the United Nations showed that nitrous oxide has 296 times the impact on Global Warming that CO2 does. These gases come from the massive amount of livestock being raised for consumption.

Cutting back on your meat intake means fewer cows, pigs, and chickens pumping out concentrated amounts of greenhouse gases and more land set aside for recreation.

Reduce Water Waste

This one is as simple as cutting back your shower time and using a low-flow shower head. I like to put two of my favorite songs on a playlist to help me keep track of my time spent bathing. It’s an enjoyable way to shorten your shower time.

Cutting back on bottled water purchases and investing in a purifier for your sink is another great way to reduce usage. I saved an easy $30 a month that way!

These are just a few of the ways I choose to make my home more eco-friendly that you can try out as well. What are some of your favorite eco-living habits? What are your favorites and how did you make the switch?

The Importance of Ecotourism

This newer traveling trend isn’t just about enjoying the beauty of nature. It serves many purposes to the environment, cultures, and the world.

I’ve covered what ecotourism is and some of the best spots around the world to travel to, but I think it’s important to highlight exactly why this form of sustainable traveling is so important. It has more benefits than many might think, and I was even surprised by a few of them. If you’ve ever considered giving ecotourism a try, then consider the following benefits.

You: The Traveler

While experiencing something new and adventurous, you bring back more than just a few souvenirs from your travels. Ecotourism provides you with stories, memories, and conservation messages that stay with you for a lifetime. Your experience gives you a taste of the culture and the importance of preserving the natural beauty of the area you traveled to.

It gives the traveler an insight and appreciation for wildlife that they may not have had before, or strengthens the one they already have. It also gets important discussions started about conservation, whether those are about the area you visited or your home country.

Lifestyle

The Host Country

Natural areas used to only be valued for the resources they could provide, but ecotourism has given these areas a new value. Now, people appreciate them for their landscapes, wildlife, and indigenous cultures. It also helps to preserve these areas, making the thrill of seeing animals in the jungle more important to the world than cutting down the trees for lumber.

The Communities

Ecotourism benefits developing communities by creating a more stable economy. From lodge owners all the way to local shops, the flow of money helps to create environmentally-friendly jobs and spur conservation efforts within these communities. Each dollar spent helps feed children, save animals, and house families.

Global Impact

Easily on of the fastest growing industries in the world, ecotourism’s influence is constantly spreading farther across the globe. Every person in every piece of the puzzle is an ambassador for positive environmental change on a global scale. The powerful stories you as the traveler and they as the community are able to tell cause more and more individuals to hop on the sustainable, eco-living bandwagon.

I am passionate about the positive influence ecotourism is having on the world and its natural habitats. As this nature conscious trend continues to grow, and it will, the world will identify and appreciate the importance of preserving what natural ecosystems we have left to enjoy. What are your thoughts on ecotourism, and have you ever traveled to a natural destination?

Top EcoTourism Destination Around the Globe

With ecotourism on the rise, more and more locations around the world are adopting the principles behind this environmental movement.

With ecotourism on the rise, I did a little research to find the top destinations around the world for an all-out eco-vacation. Each of these places offer visitors something uniquely different. So, consider these locales for your next environmentally friendly getaway.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has made a name for itself in the ecotourism world due to its well-protected natural beauty. It offers coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific, not to mention it is nearly one-fourth rainforest. One of the main draws of this incredible natural location is the chance to see volcanoes up close and personal, aside from the many low-impact hotels and resorts.

Norway

Norway is well known for its sustainable living practices, especially in the Fjords. Fjord, Norway is one of the four pilot destinations of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, possibly due to the government’s strict regulations on fishing, hunting, and even drilling for oil.

Kenya

Grasslands featuring exotic wildlife, coral reefs, and mountainous hikes all make this one of the most unique ecotourist destinations in the world. Where else can you see lions and rhinos up close? The varied landscapes of this African locale offer an incredible amount of biodiversity.

While the area is still plagued by illegal poaching, organizations have worked hard to deter and arrest those who would commit such a heinous atrocity. Aside from the unique wildlife, low-impact resorts can be found in abundance here.

Galapagos Islands

Home to some of the most diverse and distinct species of fauna in the world, the country’s Directorate of the Galapagos National Park implements a strict visitor management system to ensure the natural area remains protected. With a heavy focus on sustainable tourism, this eco-destination is easily one of the most awe inspiring locations to travel to.

Palau

This island nation in the Western Pacific is part of Micronesia and offers more aquatic sights than it does ones on land. Coral reefs are home to hundreds of species of fish, which makes them perfect for snorkeling and diving. The Palau Project, a part of Blue Planet United, brings in university students to learn about the island and aspects of ecotourism.

Kenya

On land, the country does offer untouched shorelines and forests filled with diverse plants and animals. The country recognizes its natural beauty and strives to preserve it at all costs.

Portugal

Ecotourism in Portugal is beginning to take hold in this beautiful land. Many places are overbuilt, but some of Portugal’s coastal areas has been recognized as protected landscapes. There ares include the resorts of Esposende, Sintra and Cascais and southeast Alentejo, near Cabo de São Vicente.

Other areas, especially in the interior are being preserved and set aside for future generations to enjoy.

If I were headed anywhere in the world, these ecotourism destinations would be the top spots on my list. What unique and environmentally friendly places have you visited in your travels? Did I miss any wonderful locations that should have been on this list?

The Best Ecotourism Destinations in the U.S.

Looking to take an eco-friendly vacation without wasting precious fossil fuels while saving money? There are more places in North America than you might think!

Countries like Africa, Australia, and South America offer a plethora of eco-lodges that offer low-impact tourism centered around the indigenous peoples of the area. In the United States, however, ecotourism seems to be a scarce and rarely heard of phenomenon. It isn’t impossible to find wonderful destinations in our country though.

If you are starting to plan your next eco-trip, consider some of these beautiful locations!

Eco-Tourism in the U.S.

I had to do a little digging to find eco-tourism locations in the country, or even its neighbors, which prompted me to find out why this wonderful way of traveling hasn’t taken off here like it has in other countries. The main reason stems from the fact that environmentally-responsible tourism has its roots in developing nations. A large part of the movement is giving back to local communities that are just beginning to blossom.

The U.S. does not have a national, government-run tourism board like many other nations have. This has led to smaller community-based organizations heading the movement. While North America might not have the same scale of eco-tourism that other countries do, you can still experience rapidly evolving eco-destinations in the country.

Most of them are far from perfect, but I picked out the top two locations based on the principles of eco-tourism.

El Monte Sagrado

Old

This resort made entirely of adobe-styled structures, constructed from fly ash, can be found in Taos, New Mexico. It runs on what they call the “Living Machine”, which consists of plants and sea life that treat water for reuse. That, and photovoltaic solar cells that power the electrical components of the Living Machine as well as heating and cooling.

The resort collects rainwater, composts, recycles, and even uses water from their Living Machine to irrigate crops. They transport treated water back to the city of Taos, and have even founded a local school.

Sadie Cove

Located in Homer, Alaska, this wilderness lodge features off-the-grid coastal cabins in Kachemak Bay State Park. Using hydroelectric power from a nearby stream, each cabin effectively runs on alternative energy. They offer meals from their organic vegetable garden, and focus heavily on their “leave no trace” philosophy.

I found their benefits to the local ecosystem interesting. They are actively working to have the area officially declared a mountain goat sanctuary, which means you can definitely observe the adorable creatures in their natural habitat.

Have you ever been to either of these locations? Do you know of any other great eco-tourism locations in the U.S.?

What Exactly is Ecotourism?

Maybe you’ve heard of the term ecotourism before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, this post is here to inform you on this absolutely fantastic way of travel.

Everything seems to be going “eco” these days, and that couldn’t make me any happier. From the spur in health consciousness to business adopting environmentally friendly practices, the world is slowly becoming a better, more sustainable place.

Ecotourism is one of the practices people around the globe have been picking up, but what exactly is it? How does one do it? These questions an more are all answered below!

Defining Ecotourism

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Essentially, it means leaving only your footprints behind when you visit a location.

The Principles

As with any movement, there are a set of principles to follow when practicing this form of travel. It starts with minimizing any impact you may have on the environment as well as the culture and people of the area. That can be as simple as not leaving your trash on a hiking path, or something more thought-driven like respecting the customs of a particular religion or culture.

Hills

Aside from respecting the people of the area, I try to contribute direct financial support for any conservation efforts they make. Alternatively, I could financially help the surrounding area by choosing to buy from only local small businesses. I would also avidly work to conserve natural resources by using as little power and water as possible.

The end goal is to unite conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. Some even take things a step further by choosing to stay in the area and work to market it as an ecotourist location while helping to construct low-impact facilities and aiding the indigenous people of the area in conservation efforts.

Others choose to become interpreters who uphold the area’s spiritual beliefs and create positive interactions between visitors and indigenous people.

Sustainable Travel Just Makes Sense

Traveling to a new location is always an exciting adventure, but enjoying and preserving the beauty of nature while doing it is even more of an enriching experience. As traveler’s, we have to do our part to preserve environments and cultures around the world before industrialization and mega corporations decimate them.

What are your thoughts on ecotourism? Where have you traveled to recently where you could put these principles into action? I would love to hear about it!

Your Guide to Ecotourism

If you’ve ever wondered what this growing trend is, then these 5 steps can help you make the most of yur next vacation.

Ecotourism goes by many names, like green travel or ethical travel, but what exactly is it and how can you go about doing it? While though I understand the concept behind it, even I had a tough time figuring out how to leave nothing but my footprints behind when traveling.

I decided to take some advice and a well deserved trip to the Grand Canyon. These are the five sustainable steps I followed to keep things as green as possible.

1. Keep it Simple

Packing light is the first step to making your travels as eco-friendly as possible. A lighter load means better fuel efficiency for the plane you are flying on. While it was difficult to pick and choose only the necessities, I found that the money saved on baggage was well worth it.

2. Conserve Water

This is one you can do at home as well, but save water everywhere you can. I took shorter showers, turned off the faucet while brushing my teeth, and even re-used my towels for a few day instead of washing them.

Honestly, I didn’t find this part all that challenging. Sure, I didn’t get to take a luxuriously long shower but I did my part to not waste a precious resource. Plus, I didn’t even have to use the hotel’s laundry service.

3. Conserve Energy

These are things I do at home already, but they certainly help to keep things green. The easiest way to accomplish this step is by turning everything off (AC, TV, lights, everything) and putting the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. That keeps housecleaning from using up energy to run the vacuum while keeping my room free from harsh cleaning chemicals.

4. Reuse and Recycle

While it might be common sense to not throw your trash wherever you’d like, I actually found it difficult to break a few old habits for this one. For instance, returning brochures and maps when I was done using them took some getting used to. Things like refilling the same water bottle all week and using only one bar of soap for both my shower and hand washing routines also took a little more conscious thought than I’d like to admit.

5. Leave Only Footprints

I’m a huge fan of adventure. but straying from hiking trails can harm the native flora, which can have negative consequences to the rest of the ecosystem. By not straying off on my own path, I was helping preserve local wildlife!

c

The Hidden Final Step

I would like to add respecting the culture and the area to this list. While Arizona isn’t exactly exotic to us here in the states, it adds to the traveling experience when you immerse yourself in the ways of a people.

How do you stay green when travelling? I’d love to hear about your travels and experiences!