You’ve finally decided to answer the going green battle cry swirling through the sound waves of time and space. Good for you…and good for Mother Nature! Now, you’re just wondering what level of sacrifice it’s going to take so that you can mentally prepare yourself for the necessary ch-ch-ch-changes ahead. Wait a minute – while being more eco-responsible does require a shift in priorities and actions, there is absolutely no need to get white-knuckled about your brave new journey. This is one process that you can adopt slowly but surely over time without putting a chokehold on your lifestyle.
Baby steps, my friend…that’s all it takes. Put one foot in front of the other and simply rethink the way that you do things. Yup, that’s the magic formula. In fact, it’s so simple that it’s stupid-simple. In our former lives, we were conditioned to indulge in a perpetual pattern of consumerism – a cycle of buying and using and discarding that seemingly had no end. My, how life has changed since then. Yes, it may be slightly challenging at first to reform such deeply-ingrained habits, but you’ll see…after a short while, you’ll wonder why it didn’t occur to you to make the transition sooner. Please peruse the list below for several common sense greenification tips, many of which you can easily adopt today!
1. Reconsider fast food! It’s just a fast way to fill up on garbage, internally and externally. Eat at home to save money, resources and your cholesterol level. If the urge to chow down under the glow of a neon arch is simply overwhelming, then decline the paper bag and extra throw-away accessories. Better yet, ask your local joint to add in-store recycling bins so that used fast food wrappers, cups, etc. can be kept out of the landfill.
2. Donate unwanted possessions! Uh-uh-uhhhh…not so fast. Before you drop that jacket that is 3 sizes too small in your garbage pail (ditto for any books, housewares, trinkets, etc.), always remember that what you may consider to be trash is another man’s treasure. Find a Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Dress For Success to donate your items to, or list them on FreeSharing or Freecycle so that someone else can benefit from your generosity.
3. Repurpose outdated items. Take a good look at the clothing items stuffed in your closet and imagine how they can take on a new life as…a pet bed…a book cover…placemats…a rug…reusable shopping bags…cool fashion accessories. You don’t have to be innately crafty to figure out how to wield a needle and thread – there are infinite resources online such as ThreadBanger and Craftzine that will show you the way…
4. Refrain from purchasing one-time-use items. In other words, steer clear of disposable plastic razors, bottled water, Wisp toothbrushes, paper/plastic dishes and cutlery…basically, anything that is designed to be used once and immediately discarded is not doing our environment any favors. Opt instead for the long term version and use it until it falls apart!
5. Make your own…everything. Go back to basics and try to reduce your consumerist tendencies, which will in turn eliminate the amount of extraneous packaging that enters your household. Open up a cookbook and make real home-cooked meals rather than purchasing fat-laden convenience foods. Steer clear of cleaning products with a laundry list of mysterious ingredients cooked up in a lab and instead make your own. There are, of course, certain occasions when it is just more practical to purchase manufactured items (Band-Aids anyone?), but for the most part, if you need a bookshelf or a gift for a friend, with a little creative ingenuity, you can make it yourself and it will be one thousand times better than what you can purchase in a store.
6. Borrow stuff…and return the favor when you can. Do any of us really need the latest-greatest books, CDs or DVD releases – isn’t that what the library is for? What about larger ticket items like tools and items that you just need once? Instead of buying them and cluttering up your garage with more things, rent them or borrow items from friends and neighbors instead…and try reciprocating whenever possible.
7. Be less wasteful. Another way of looking at this suggestion is to simply conserve the resources you are fortunate enough to have at your fingertips. For example, abandon your phobia of eating leftovers and transform them into new-to-you meals later in the week or freeze what you can’t consume for a welcome surprise at a later date. The same concept can be applied to your water and energy consumption. Turn your H2O source off while you brush your teeth, scrub the dishes, or lather up in the shower and when you exit a room, turn the light off. These aren’t cutting-edge solutions – they’re just practical standbys that really work.
8. Rethink what you place in your garbage can. Kitchen scraps can be diverted into a mini compost pile which will ultimately take on a new life as garden gold. Metal, plastic, paper and glass can be deposited in recyclable bins, and if you are lucky enough to have RecycleBank servicing your area, consider it an extra-added bonus! All it takes is a few extra minutes to streamline the volume of waste you ultimately tote to your curb.
9. Work your green thumb. Whether you’re gifted in the garden or not, planting a few flowers and veggies will do far more than gift you with a beautiful environment and an incredibly local food source. Any plant that bears flowers will offer pollinators a new source of nectar to feed from, and they can certainly use the assistance now more than ever. Green stuff in general releases oxygen, which can help to offset the carbon clogging our atmosphere. So, plant a few extra trees. Coax wildflowers from your soil. Commune with nature!
10. Dispose of risky items responsibly. When old computer items and electronics are dumped into landfills, they release toxic chemicals such as barium, mercury, cobalt and fluorine that leach into the ground, poisoning water and the atmosphere along with all living creatures in their midst. It is simply not ethical to ditch your unwanted e-waste into a dumpster during the middle of the night. Seek out a reliable recycler with a track record, cough up the $10 handling fee and do the right thing!
Elizah Leigh’s eco-intellect grows in leaps and bounds with each step that she takes along her journey as an environmental steward and wordsmith for the green generation. She is the type of individual who is unfailingly committed to each and every greenification project that she takes on. For more of her eco-inspired articles, log onto Greenwala, the online green social network, at http://www.greenwala.com