Today’s guest author is Diane. She writes her own two blogs Turning the Clock Back and Suburbia Unwrapped. She has kindly offered to share some of her simple tips for going green with us and our readers.
When I got pregnant with my first child 14 years ago, I started realizing that everything I put in my body would also affect my child. I started buying organic foods and doing research into natural products that would fit easily into my hectic life. Once my child was born, I realized that if I wanted him to have a healthy planet to grow up on, I needed to start going green in other areas of my life as well! I am, however, a realist when it comes to going green. With 2 jobs and 2 kids it isn’t always practical or financially feasible to live a 100% eco friendly life. I am a firm believer that going green does not have to be an all or nothing lifestyle change. Every single baby step that people take in the road to going green makes a difference. If everyone pledged to make one small change to their current lifestyle, this planet would be a whole lot healthier! So, if you would like to take a few small baby steps to reduce your own carbon footprint, here are a few small ways that you can help!
1. Reduce your disposable lifestyle: One of the easiest ways to start going green is to stop throwing things away. Our landfills are overflowing with trash and it is simple to cut back in this area. Stop using paper napkins and replace them with cloth. Stop buying individually wrapped snacks and buy in bulk. Then, divide the snacks into reusable containers. This not only helps with going green but it will also save you money at the grocery store. Start a compost bin for your fruit and vegetable scraps. Once you have your own compost, you can use it on flowers, bushes, and gardens instead of artificial fertilizers. In order to reduce your trash output, start rethinking everything that goes in the garbage can. Can you find a new use for it? What changes can you make to your life so that you don’t have to throw any more of that item away?
2. Choose natural and organic products when you can: Going green would be easy if we were all millionaires. Organic and natural products cost more than conventional items and if you are working on a tight budget, this step might be hard. I have found that calling or emailing organic and natural food companies will usually score you some coupons which are a big help in reducing their cost. Our local Kroger’s often has a buy 10 and save sale on natural and organic items so remember to stock up when you see a good price. Many household cleaners can be made at home with simple pantry ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. By making your own cleaners, you reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and keep those questionable items out of our water system.
3. Start a garden: Organic produce is much cheaper when it comes from your own back yard. Use the compost from your own compost bin as a natural fertilizer and research other ways to grow produce organically. Getting your kids involved in gardening is a great way to encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables. Going green and getting healthy often go hand in hand! You don’t need to have a huge amount of land to start a garden. Add a few pots of tomatoes onto your patio or plant some herbs around your mailbox. Gardening can be very simple or extremely complex, depending on how much time and space you have.
4. Recycle: I am always shocked at how many people in my neighborhood do not recycle. We are provided with free bins and free curbside pickup and yet many people still don’t recycle. It doesn’t take much effort to rinse a can and toss it in the recycle bin. If you already recycle, try to recycle something new…call your trash company and get a list of everything they accept. Many facilities are expanding to accept more and more items as technology improves. Our facility accepts paperboard (cereal boxes, etc) and all numbers of plastic from 1 through 7. Your facility may accept items that you aren’t aware of. Also, consider other ways you can recycle or repurpose items that might otherwise be destined for the trash. Make a bird feeder out of a 2 liter bottle, donate old windows on Freecycle to a local artist or home builder, or use your old newspaper as a weed barrier under your landscaping mulch. There are many ways to reuse things that you may have once considered trash! Going green often means putting your creative thinking cap on!
5. Choose local products: One way to start going green is to start thinking about how far your purchases have to travel to make it to your home. Choose local, seasonal produce when grocery shopping instead of items that have been shipped from overseas. You may have to give up eating watermelon in December but going green means making a few changes to your life that may not be easy. Check out Local Harvest for farms in your area. You would be surprised at how easy it is to find meat, eggs, dairy and produce from local farmers! Small farmers often use more ecofriendly ways to raise their crops and animals than large scale agribusiness does.
There are many easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint and start living a more eco friendly life. The one thing I really wish people realized is that going green doesn’t have to be a complete lifestyle change. Pledge to make one small change in how you live this month. And remember that going green is something we need to teach our children! Include them in your efforts and explain WHY you are making these changes. We have only been given one planet to live on so let’s try to do our part to keep it healthy!