Four common eco-mistakes

Four common eco-mistakes

Updated: March 4, 2011 01:24 PM EST
Don't run the shower while it gets hot. Instead, turn the hot water on as you step into the shower, then stand out of the way of the cold stream while it gets hot.  (©BananaStock/Thinkstock) Don't run the shower while it gets hot. Instead, turn the hot water on as you step into the shower, then stand out of the way of the cold stream while it gets hot. (©BananaStock/Thinkstock)

By Andrea Kasprzak

On the sustainable-savvy scale, I'd rank myself fairly high. I recycle my empty bottles, love shopping vintage, and eat a plant-based diet -- locally whenever possible, of course. But, even the greenest of us flub up occasionally.

In efforts to rectify my most major eco blunders, I turned to conservation expert Sara Snow for advice. Try these easy eco-changes to solve your green problems:

Mistake: Leaving the heat on when I go out of town.

Solution: Get a programmable thermostat and set it as soon as you think about it -- even days ahead of your departure date. Programmable thermostats aren't just designed for daily living; they can also help when you're heading off for a family vacation or a regular business trip. No need to heat an empty house!

Mistake: Forgetting to turn off my electronics -- especially my laptop.

Solution: Plug all your gadgets and appliances into power strips and then spend a few minutes before bed turning them all off. This is an easy habit to get in to, and it means everything from your TV to your computer will be off for the night.

Mistake: Choosing roundabout flights because they're cheaper.

Solution: The most eco-friendly way to fly is on a full aircraft -- not private -- with the least number of layovers possible. Taking off and landing use the most fuel, so avoid unnecessary carbon emissions -- and another chance for lost luggage -- by flying direct.

Mistake: Running the shower while it gets hot.

Solution: Turn the hot water on as you step into the shower, then stand out of the way of the cold stream while it gets hot. I guarantee you'll be under the showerhead the minute it hits lukewarm! Another option: Keep a small bucket in your bathroom and place it under the showerhead while the water runs and heats up, then use that runoff to water your plants.

Andrea Kasprzak is a full-time freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Allure, Men's Journal, Teen Vogue, SELF and Pregnancy, among other publications.

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