You’ve probably heard of the usual tips to decrease your carbon footprint – like installing solar panels, purchasing a hybrid vehicle or even just bringing your own bags to the grocery store. While these pieces of advice are definitely tried and true, there are more ways to live a sustainable lifestyle than just those.

To learn about some unique ways you can help the environment, we chatted with Nan Simpson, public speaker, climate change activist and co-founder of the Western New York Climate Action Coalition. For Simpson, taking action is a must:

There is a very strong international scientific consensus that climate change is real, it’s happening, it’s caused by human activity, and its consequences are likely to be severe.

Are you ready to make a difference, one small lifestyle change at a time? Here are seven unconventional and expert-backed secrets to making your life a little greener.

1 KEEP YOUR CAR MAINTAINED

Your car is one of the biggest sources of CO2 pollution. But, unless you live in a big city with easily accessible public transportation, you probably rely on a car to get most places. Some common tips for reducing car emissions usually include carpooling or driving a low emissions vehicle. However, there are several cheaper tricks to reducing the carbon footprint of your personal vehicle.

  • Watch your speed: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduces mileage by up to 33 percent on the highways and up to 5 percent around town, therefore increasing your car’s carbon footprint.
  • Keep tires inflated: The Department of Energy also states that, by keeping your tires inflated under the right pressure, you can improve gas mileage anywhere from .6 to 3 percent.
  • Turn it off when parked: Running your car while parked can use anywhere from a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, depending on air conditioning use and the size of your car’s engine. So, the next time you find yourself waiting for a friend at the airport, make sure to turn off your engine and roll down the windows!
  • Avoid hauling unnecessary cargo: This tip might not be as obvious to the average driver, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. The Department of Energy recommends that drivers remove cargo boxes from their car’s roof rack when they aren’t being used. A large cargo box increases aerodynamic drag or wind resistance, drastically reducing the fuel economy of your car.

2 SAY NO TO JUNK MAIL

When you think of causes of green house emissions, junk mail probably doesn’t first come to mind.

However, recent research has discovered that; 100 million trees are cut down and used every year for junk mail in just the U.S., and, as a result, eliminating America’s junk mail (and saving those trees) could offset the emissions of 480,000 cars. Other studies have also reported that 44 percent of junk mail is sent to landfills without ever being opened, and the paper industry is the fourth highest producer of carbon dioxide among all manufacturers.
By opting out of junk mail, you can reduce the amount of energy used to produce, deliver, and dispose of unwanted ads and catalogs. Services like 41pounds.org can help you unsubscribe from junk mail lists for a small fee.

You can also take your junk mail veto one step further by switching from a print newspaper to an online version. Research is still needed to prove that digital is really better for the environment than paper, with some people pointing out that manufacturing electronic products used to read online newspapers can be just as problematic. However, at least at first glance, going online for your news can save trees.

3 WEATHER PROOF YOUR HOME

There are several small things that every homeowner can do to minimize energy waste. One lesser known tip? Weatherstrip – or seal the gaps around – your doors and windows whenever possible. Before you begin, you will need to assess the different types of openings in your home so you can determine what type of sealing you should use. For instance, a sliding window probably calls for a V strip (also known as a tension seal) while the bottom of a door needs a door sweep.

READ MORE: Solar Power: The Good, the Bad and All the Facts You Should Know
Other aspects of weather proofing can include installing proper insulation. Improving the heat flow through your house will not only save you money by lowering your heating and cooling costs, but it can also make your home even more comfortable and efficient. You might even want to upgrade your ventilation, which can help control the moisture within the interior of your home and prevent mold growth.

4 WASH USING COLD WATER

Not a cold shower, silly! Just wash your clothes in cold water.
The amount of energy used in each wash depends on a couple variables, including:

  • The machine’s energy rating
  • The wash temperature, which can range from 20 to 90 degrees Celsius
  • Whether a “half-load setting” is available and used
  • Whether gas or electricity is used to heat the water

Regardless of these other factors, washing machines use around 90 percent of their energy heating up the water. So, unless your clothes reek of germ-infested bacteria, cut back on energy usage with the cold water cycle.

Read the full article on Entity.