16 Everyday Tips for a Greener Life
So I was digging through old magazines that were piling up and came across some great information in a past issue of Vive. It outlines some very practical ways to make your everyday life greener. As all of you know, a healthy earth equals a healthier you. I changed the order of things a little bit, but here we go.
1) Stop Drinking Bottled Water. Bottled water accounts for astronomical amounts of unnecessary waste, especially because it is much more efficient and better for nature (yourself included) to drink filtered tap water. Also, use a stainless steel or glass water bottle to avoid possible leaching of toxic chemicals from plastic bottles.
2) Donate Unwanted Items. The popularity of pre-owned goods is on the rise, keeping ridiculous amounts of perfectly good items out of landfills. A plethora of organizations are designed to make this process easy for those willing to donate. Many Salvation Army locations offer pickup services and items can be dropped off at any number of non-profit businesses. The Salvation Army sells what it can to fund charitable efforts and bundles the rest to be shipped off to third world countries. Finally, websites like www.FreeCycle.org and www.CraigsList.org make it possible to give away, trade or even sell your unwanted items to individuals in your local area.
3) When Possible, Buy Pre-Owned. This follows suit with donating unwanted items. Thrift shops and online communities are filled with quality items priced at a fraction of what their worth. I know most will not feel comfortable buying everything pre-owned, but the next time you go to purchase that wobbly, particle board desk that requires full assembly, think of the beautiful mahogany available for the same price.
4) Avoid Single Use Products. This includes almost anything disposable from razors to cameras, bottled water and especially plastic dinnerware. These products almost always spend more time in production and warehousing than they do in use, ending up in a landfill extremely quickly. As a result, it is best to purchase products that you can use over and over again. The return on investment (ROI) will be much greater and the environmental impact will be reduced exponentially. If you must use disposable products, look for ones with environmentally friendly design, either 100% recycled or cradle to cradle certified.
5) Eat Organic. Organic standards require that farmers use sustainable practices with minimal environmental impact. Certified organic agriculture is not exposed to synthetic pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. Therefore, these chemicals are kept our of our bodies, soil and water supply.
(Read more about Organic Living)
6) Buy Food in Bulk. 1/3 of America’s trash is packaging and about 10 cents of every dollar we spend on products goes to the package we discard in minutes. Save the time, save the money, save the earth.
7) Buy Food That is Locally Harvested. A movement has started back to the mom and pop farm with good reason: Higher Quality, Supports Local Economy, Uses Less Fossil Fuels and Reduces Pollution. Need I say more? You can find local food at farmers markets, green markets or local farm shares. Google seems to be a likely instrument for finding these.
8) Recycle Your Sneakers. Yes! You can recycle your sneakers. Nike has been doing this since 1993. If they are in good shape to donate please do so, otherwise, to find a location near you visit, www.NikeReuseAShoe.com/.
9) Save Paper by Cutting Back on Junk Mail. Various websites and “Do not mail lists” can help you stop all of that useless junk mail from piling up in your box. One such site is www.GreenDimes.com. Check it out!
10) Buy Recycled Products. I’m not sure what more to say.
11) Computer Savvy. For starters, laptops use less energy than desktops, LCD screens are always a good way to go, and efficient use of sleep mode as well as power off is key. From a usage standpoint, reading your newspaper and magazines online in addition to sending out electronic greeting cards are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
12) Keep Refrigerators and Freezers Full. This is a rather simple concept. Physical materials hold their temperature much better than air, thus it takes more energy to keep empty space cold than say milk, leftover pot roast and those juicy steaks waiting to be cooked.
13) Replace Lighting with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. These lights use 75% less energy, last 10 times longer than standard bulbs and only cost a little bit more. In other words, you will save money and the environment in the long run… a no-brainer!
14) Non-toxic Cleaning. Let’s assume what we flush, drain and dump may find its way back into our homes, so reducing the use of toxic chemicals is key. There are many great bio-degradable products out there and even some effective home concoctions like using lemon juice which kills most household bacteria.
15) Meatless Meals. Don’t freak out! All I am suggesting is that many modern meat production practices aren’t exactly great for the environment. At the Rejuvenation Institute of Natural Health, we stress protein as a key element to most meals, but want to point out there are other sources of it. Beans, nuts and whole grains provide the body with protein between your carnivorous undertakings. Another great way to be eco-friendly and end up with a better product is to buy from local, preferably organic farmers. Finally, buy bulk, purchasing 1/4, 1/2 or even a full cow if your freezer space permits.
16) Replace Inefficient Appliances. This goes for anything in your home from leaky sinks to water guzzling toilets and energy pig refrigerators. Almost anything in your home which dispenses water or uses electricity has more efficient counterparts available on the market, so whether you decide to make the change tomorrow or wait until the old one dies, please be conscious of your decision when that time does come.
There you have it. Don’t be overwhelmed, change does not happen overnight, but implementing a few of these would be a great way to do your part.
Scource: Vive® Magazine, January 2008
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