Living sustainably is doable at any age, but it can be much easier in retirement. Prior to retirement, our time outside of work is limited. We value anything that can save us some time, which is not always the most sustainable option. After retirement, there will be a lot more time available to make a daily conscious effort to be green. Here are seven ways to reduce your carbon footprint in retirement:
Bike and walk more. If you can bike and walk more, you will use less gasoline and reduce your carbon footprint. Hopefully, you won’t need to rush to various places and can take your time getting around town. Walking and biking are also great ways to stay physically fit. If walking and biking aren’t practical, then try taking public transportation, carpooling, and grouping your trips to be more efficient.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables. Trees and gardens absorb carbon and give us clean air. Many fruits and vegetables in grocery stores travel a long way before you even have a chance to purchase them. By growing and harvesting your own fresh fruits and vegetables, you will be eating healthier as well. Consider composting if you are tending a garden. It will give you free fertilizer and reduce your landfill waste.
Buy local. Buying local will reduce the energy expended to transport items. You will also be supporting local businesses and eating more seasonal food. It can be more expensive to buy local, so you need to pick and choose what your budget can afford, but the quality can also be much better.
Move to a more temperate climate. Once you stop working full time, you won’t necessarily be tied to a particular location anymore. This provides the opportunity to move to a more favorable climate with a potentially lower cost of living. Heating and cooling units are typically the biggest energy users in a home. By moving to a temperate location, you will use less energy and possibly save some money on the electric bill (assuming similar rates).
Move to a smaller and more energy efficient home. Moving to a smaller and more energy efficient home will reduce your energy usage greatly. Heating and cooling a smaller space will require much less energy. We moved from a 2,000 square foot stand alone house to a 1,000 square foot condo in a concrete building and our winter utility bill was reduced by over 70 percent. The few window cracks and leaks were easily located, so we were able to remedy them immediately and enjoy our cozy home. A smaller home also needs less lighting and fewer appliances.
Line dry your laundry. Line drying can take an entire afternoon for clothes to dry, but you should have the time when you are retired. Sun-bleached linens feel so crisp and fresh, and it always feels great to infuse the outdoors into something you can bring indoors. Of course, make sure you are in an area that doesn’t have a homeowners association or city ordinance that prohibits line drying.
Audit your electricity usage. Check with your electric company to see if they offer a home audit. They can help you identify ways to save energy. You can also do your own power audit with a Kill A Watt or other home power meter which can help you identify appliances that use a lot of electricity. There are many power-saving devices to help you save energy in your home.
While going green can take a lot of time and effort, it can also help you save some money in retirement. Most people will have more time than money in retirement, so why not help the environment while you can?
Joe Udo is planning an exit strategy from his corporate job by reducing expenses and increasing passive income. He blogs about his journey to early retirement at Retire by 40.