It’s occurred to me that being “Green” has become fashionable more out of hype than necessity for many people. This greatly saddens me but I’m happy that its catching on.
I have leaned toward a low impact lifestyle my entire life. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and recycle everything you can. My mother taught me to put a bucket in the sink during the summer and let it fill up during regular activities like washing hands or your afternoon snack apple. When its full, run outside and water your flower gardens! She also instilled the value of less is more. I adore my mother and cannot thank her enough for all the lessons she has taught and continues to teach me. (I love you Mum!)
Here is a quick list of things I do to help limit my “footprint” on mother earth. They are easy to do and I encourage you to take steps to minimize you impact as well.
- Turn the lights out. When you leave the room or close your book, flic the switch and save some energy.
- Bored with the tele? Nothing on? Shut off the boob tube. Still need some background noise? Try the radio or internet music options.
- Driving somewhere? Slow down! Speeding wastes gas and on average you only get there 3 minutes faster. Don’t believe me? Try it some day. Oh and coast… I love coasting… from red light to red light… a little bit of gas can go a long way and saves you money too.
- Compost. Don’t have a compost pile? Does a friend or family member or your community have one you can contribute to? Don’t throw that bag of spoiled veggies away – recycle it back into “black gold.” Afraid of odor? Keep a bucket with lid or bag in your freezer and stash your banana peels, potato skins and all that green goodness until you can get to a composting site.
- Cook and bake efficiently. Cooking for two? Make food for 4 or 6 or even 8. The freezer is your friend. (Labeling is recommended for anyone like me who forgets). Also, listing what is available in the freezer might sound a bit overboard but can help on those nights when you’re hungry and don’t want to forage.
- Get your clean on! I use vinegar and baking soda all around the house. Vinegar may not smell pretty (still reminds me of Easter egg dying with Nani) but it sure does work. Baking soda is awesome at attacking and defeating stains on counter tops and scrubbing tubs and sinks (without scratching delicate surfaces too). Tough grease mess on the stove top? Give it a try! I have also dumped baking soda down drains followed with a vinegar chaser and cleared up some serious clogs. Vinegar is also great for windows and safe to use around pets. (I use vinegar during my weekly tank cleanings for my pet mice).
- Unplug things. Done with your laptop and the battery is charged? Unplug. Leaving for a weekend – unplug the unnecessary electronics like the television. Don’t leave your cell phone chargers or the toaster plugged in when not in use. Surprisingly they do still draw energy and run up your bill.
- Recycle everything you can. Run unwanted junk mail through the shredder and recycle. Plastic, paper, and more. Mulch your grass clippings back into the lawn or use around your garden to keep the moisture in the soil. Grind up leaves and use them as a mulch in your gardens. (We do this every fall. Its great to protect your plants and can be dug into soil when Spring rolls around).
- Clean out your street’s gutters! You may not realize that what goes into the sewers often is not treated before it runs back into local river or lake. Don’t let things go down the drain. Also, keeping the gutters clear helps your street not flood in rain storms. (My city is on Lake Michigan and I have seen neighbors dump chemicals down the sewer EEK). Pick up trash in your yard… it is likely going to end up in the gutters anyways.
- Second hand is okay. I love rummage-sale-ing and thrift store shopping. Ask friends if they want to swap clothes or even hand them down to younger generations in the family. Don’t forget to donate to local charities if you have a stash of unwanted items.
So… I hope this has given you a new idea or at least inspired you to think a little greener today. If everyone does a little bit – it will add up to a big difference.
Anything I missed? Do you have an idea or currently do something “green” that you want to share? Know of a great “green” site? Please add a comment.