Looking for some simple ways to make a big positive environment impact? Some of the following tips have been said over and over by many, but they bear repeating because the majority of people have yet to implement them. The changes our planet’s health requires will be mostly small, individually-based ones to make the biggest difference. It all adds up. Why not try to incorporate one new habit a week? Sound like too much? Try one a month. Put it on your calender, electronic or paper, to remind yourself of your upcoming pledge to your planet.
- Change out those lightbulbs! Replacing your incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient CFL bulbs. They can reduce your electricity use by 75% and last at least SIX times longer. Feel they’re too expensive? Ikea makes inexpensive CFL bulbs. And don’t forget to recycle them by taking burned out bulbs back to accepting stores.
- Switch your laundry detergent to a plant-based product. Laundry detergents such as the ever-popular Tide and All are petroleum-based products. Everyone moans and groans about how much a barrel of oil costs in regards to gas prices, but most people don’t realize that many of our everyday products use oil, too! There are many effective alternatives on the market, Seventh Generation and Ecover being two of the most widely available brands. Do you really want to wash your clothes in oil??
- Buy organically-grown food. There is much debate in the media currently about the nutritional benefits of certified organic produce. For me, the debate shouldn’t be so much about the nutritional content, though it does deserve scrutiny, but more about how our “conventional” food is grown. Pesticides that wipe out precious pollinators and require haz-mat suits don’t belong on my food, in my body or in the earth’s soil. Chemical fertilizers are just that: chemicals. Again, not in my food, body or soil. Organically-grown food eliminates the chemicals that are damaging our bodies and their well-being, and pollute our planet’s natural resources.
- Even better, buy locally-grown food. Have you ever tasted a tomato that was just picked the day before after being allowed to grown and ripen in the fields, living out its perfect tomato destiny? It is like eating ripe, juicy, glorious sunshine. Our food is trucked and flown across our country and from abroad, meaning that produce is picked before it is ripe and is many days old by the time it reaches you. Buying locally not only cuts down on the carbon footprint of your food, it also keeps your dollars where they can do the most good: in the hands of your neighbors, not big corporations. Small family farms used to be the bread and butter of our agricultural system but they are fast-disappearing. Help them stay alive by supporting their produce. You can find out where and how your food was grown, and maybe even make a friend in the process.
- Use re-usable cloth bags. Say no to plastic….always. Get in the habit of using your bags by putting a few in your car (no excuses at the grocery store), throw one in your purse or backpack for unexpected purchases, hang them on your front door handle so you won’t forget them when you leave the house.
- Take public transportation or walk. If you live in a city, this one is a no-brainer, but if you live in a more rural or suburban area, it can be a real challenge. Consolidate your errands or carpool to work if you can. Biking can also be a great way to travel longer distances and you get exercise and fresh air in the process! Win-win!
Let these few tips soak into your psyche and see if you can find ways of incorporating them into your daily routines. I’ll post more ways to go green later on after you’ve had some time to get these to seem normal. One more parting thought: