Those of us in first world countries are extremely lucky to have the luxury of a lot of, well, stuff. From dishwashers to ovens and refrigerators to light bulbs, there's no lack of gadgets that we can use to make life easier. The downside of convenience, though, just might be a lack of sustainability.
Using less energy in our homes is a vital part of living green, and it's more than just turning off the lights when you leave a room. An energy audit is one way to get a host of information about the way your family can help improve its ecological footprint while saving on utility costs. You can find resources online to do this yourself or contact your energy provider or public utility service for a home visit. And it's worth it; caulking drafty cracks, tightening leaky faucets and improving insulation can save enormous energy costs.
On top of that, Energy Star (a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency) labels appliances that pass strict energy codes. In 2010 alone, these appliances avoided the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of 33 million cars -- not to mention $18 billion dollars in utility costs for the homeowners who have them [source: Energy Star]. If you need to replace an appliance, you can rest assured that an Energy Star-rated product is the environmentally sound choice.
Now more choices -- paper or plastic? The answer, we'll discover, is neither. Read on to find out why.