Every day the earth takes care of us in more ways than we realize. Small changes in your everyday life can make a huge difference to return the favor. Here are a few ways to live more ‘green’ and eco-friendly.
Grow your own food
Growing your own food is one of the most important things you can do to create a more sustainable life for you and your family. Enjoy your meals with the peace of mind in knowing that your food hasn’t been treated with toxic chemical pesticides. The nutrient rich soil that your plants grow in will also give back to the earth by preventing soil erosion, promote biodiversity, and protect water quality. Gardening can also help the collapsing bee population by giving them plants to pollinate. If gardening isn’t for you or perhaps your living arrangements simply won’t allow it, make a conscious effort to buy locally grown organic food at a farmers market.
Plant trees in your garden
Planting trees in your garden can make a huge impact in the environment, and your home’s ability to save energy. As a tree matures it will provide shade to your home, allowing your home to remain cooler. In the colder months—if you plan your landscaping properly—a mature tree can help to block out cold, winter winds; thus allowing you to use less heat. In the long run, your tree will help you to decrease your family’s energy consumption. Planting a tree will also improve the air quality in the environment. Like many other plants, trees absorb harmful greenhouse gases and convert carbon dioxide to clean, breathable oxygen. Planting a tree is a low cost investment with a huge impact to your family and the environment and requires only a minimal maintenance. Chose a tree that grows fruits and add to your fresh foods collection.
Use “green” cleaning products (or make them yourself!)
Commercially made ‘green’ cleaning products are beneficial because they aren’t made with any toxic and dangerous chemicals (such as bleaches and ammonia) that are found in other commercially made cleaning products. Their ingredients are usually plant derived, making it safe to use around children and pets. The chemicals, bleaches, ammonia that are found in conventional cleaning products are harmful to your body as well as the environment. If these products aren’t used properly with gloves and in well-ventilated areas, they can irritate the skin and eyes, and cause illness. Also, once you’re done cleaning these chemicals are then rinsed down the drain, traveling through our drainage systems and polluting our water.
You can also search the Internet for options on how to make your own home cleaning products using common ingredients such as vinegar, apple cider vinegar, citrus peels, baking soda, and essential oils (just to name a small few). Vinegar and citrus peels are natural antibacterial agents, and aide in breaking down stubborn stains and grime.
Use reusable tote bags while shopping
According to Inspiration Green the average American family takes home about 1,500 plastic bags a year. Using reusable tote bags would drastically reduce municipal waste, endangerment to marine and wildlife, and the petroleum, natural gases, and chemicals used to manufacture plastic bags. Your tote bag will prove to be much more sturdy than plastic grocery bags, and can hold more goods. Even when you aren’t grocery shopping you can put your tote bag to use while moving, going on a weekend trip, browsing the flea market, taking a trip to the library, and so much more.
Replace disposable products
Everyday the average person probably uses at least one, if not majority of disposable products. You can make a simple adjustment to make your lifestyle more sustainable by replacing disposable products with reusable products. Sustainability can also be very cost effective. Everyday products such as paper/plastic plates, cups, eating utensils, napkins, paper towels, cleaning wipes, water bottles, and baby diapers can easily be replaced (and will save lots of money in the long run!). Consider only using glass or wooden kitchen accessories such as plates, bowls, cups, etc.
Switching over to reusable glass or wood would allow you to spend less money on buying new products, as well as eliminate your contact with plastics that contain dangerous toxins such as BPA and phthalates.
Instead of buying disposable napkins, paper towels, and cleaning wipes, try using cloth. Cut up old cotton t-shirts or cloth to make your own cleaning wipes (that will be saturated in a ready-to-use ‘green’ cleaning solution). Invest in real table napkins and simply throw them in the washer machine when they get dirty.
Instead of spending money on buying cases of water bottles, consider buying glass water bottles that you can travel with. Invest in a water filter that you’ll only have to pay to replace every few months. Stay hydrated with the security of knowing that you aren’t ingesting any toxic plastic chemicals that may have leaked into your water bottle.
If you have a baby, consider cloth diapering instead of using disposable diapers. No worries. Cloth diapering has entered the modern age; these aren’t your mother’s cloth diapers. Your baby’s bum and the landfills will thank you!
Go meatless for one day a week
Not eating meat probably doesn’t come to mind for a lot of people when thinking about living a more ‘green’ lifestyle, but lessening your meat consumption can have a major impact on the sustainability of our environment. According to Nature World News, “The production and consumption of meat in the US requires massive amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, feed, land and water”. The overall maintenance of livestock produces harmful greenhouse gases. Try hosting a ‘Meatless Mondays’ in your home and make meals from all those fresh fruits and veggies in your new garden!
Wash your laundry in cold water
Washing clothes in cooler water uses less electricity. Your clothes will be just as clean, and your energy bill will be lower. Today, some laundry detergent companies have even created special formula lines that specifically cater to efficient cleaning while using cold water.
Stop wasting water
The earth has a limited supply of water while our spending is constantly on the rise. Introducing more responsible water use habits to your home will preserve the environment, and lower your bills. Two great places to start are sinks and toilet. The kitchen sink faucet can be fitted with a hose device that will automatically shut off the flow when the handle is released. One of the biggest water wastes comes from kitchen sink where water runs constantly during dish washing. Of course, there’s even better option – investing in sensor operated water flow faucets which can tell if your hands are in front of it so it turns the water on or off accordingly. There are several ways to be more responsible and cost effective with your water consumption, for more ideas see here.
Recycle and donate items you don’t want
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Find out where your local thrift store and pawnshops are. Consider having a yard sale for other items. Give your old goods a second life. There are plenty of people in need, don’t be wasteful.
Recycle old batteries and lightbulbs at select hardware stores
Recycle old phones and other electronics at select electronic stores. Practicing responsible disposable methods help to protect the environment by not exposing landfills to harmful toxins.
Give your entire home an eco-friendly makeover
Small changes can be made to your home to make it more eco-friendly. Think about replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs (CFL). CFL bulbs are eco friendly by using less energy, and also have a longer lifetime than traditional incandescent light bulbs.
Unplug electronics and appliances when they aren’t in use. Use extension leads. Turn down your thermostat (or invest in a programmable thermostat). Invest in thermal curtains during the cold winter months to help keep the heat in. Invest in water sustainable faucets and toilets that conserve water. Invest in low energy appliances. Insulate your home to save on energy bills. Install solar panels. Your budget may not be able to handle all of these changes but whatever change you can make will make a difference to be more eco-friendly and help our environment.
Drive a hybrid or electric car
If your budget allows, consider getting a Hybrid or electric car. If not, consider carpooling to work with coworkers, friends, spouse, or neighbors. During the warmer months, you could even bike ride and enjoy some extra fresh air!