Once upon a time, I came into possession of a dollar bill on which someone had written “All we have to spend is time.” That note stayed with me for a long time, and the message even more so. Much has been said about reusing, recycling, and reducing things you buy and use in the name of environmental friendliness, but I don’t think we’ve ever considered how the way we spend our time contributes green loving practices.
Take cooking, for example. You’ve switched to a diet that contains more vegetables and fruit because you’ve been told that livestock farming uses more resources. At the same time, your favorite dinner item is a hearty beef stew that involves long hours of simmering.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but aiming to reduce the time spent cooking also translates into less resources (cooking gas and/or electricity) being used in the process. It’s easy to see the appeal of a crock pot dinner that’s been cooking all day, especially after a hard day at the office, but a stir-fry is quick, uses much less energy to produce, and is just as tasty, albeit in a different way.
Time spent in the bathroom is another example. We all now know to reduce shower time; we can also try not waiting for the water to warm up, which can result in significant water wastage, even with low-flow showerheads. Grit your teeth, take the plunge, and you could save approximately 2750 gallons per person annually.
Water systems that re-circulate cold water are something to consider, although these require energy to run as well. A simpler alternative is catching the cold water in a bucket or small tub and using it to water the plants or to run the washing machine or dishwasher. Aside from using less water, spending less time in the bathroom also uses less power both for heating the water and for keeping the room lit.
Similarly, spending less leisure time online uses less energy, which results in more time that can be spent doing something else, such as reading a book printed on recycled paper or just taking a walk in the park.