The human race puts a huge strain on the environment, and our dependence on fossil fuels to create the lifestyle to which we are accustomed in the United States continues to grow. Environmentalists have been talking about global climate change for decades, and their message has finally made it into the mainstream and is even impacting national policy.
When we think of big concerns like the entire planet, it can be difficult to imagine how any single individual can make an impact, but the old adage of “think globally, act locally,” has never been more appropriate. You can in fact make a difference in the world by making a few simple changes in your home to reduce your negative impact on the world.
1. Buy organic
The US organic food community has been slowly building a multi-billion dollar alternative to industrial agriculture over the past three decades. In addition to some of the trail blazers, mainstream brands are also jumping on the bandwagon as they recognize consumers’ demand for organic options. You can now find organic produce in most grocery stores. Remember that there are organic options for almost every item in your pantry, including staples like flour, pasta and canned goods, that can be produced without toxic pesticides.
2. Bigger packages; less packaging
Whenever possible, buy products in bulk to avoid the plastic packaging that goes into most food items. The recent trend towards 100-calorie snack bags may be great for our waistlines, but it can increase the packaging of the same amount of product by 20 times. Instead, buy in bulk and repackage smaller quantities in reusable packaging. It ends up being a benefit to your wallet as well!
Many of the items used in the kitchen can be recycled, and it is a natural place in which to house your recycling bin. Most cities easily accept cans, bottles and paper products. Check your local recycling center for other packaging products like plastic and Styrofoam. Keep your recycling bin right next to your trash can, and always consider which bin it belongs in before automatically tossing it in the trash.
4. Use recycled products
From paper towels, a staple in most kitchens, to paper napkins, paper plates and other paper-based materials, you can close the loop on your recycling efforts by choosing products made from recycled products. All that paper that you diligently recycle finds its home in these products, and they work just as well as less environmentally-friendly alternatives.
5. Green energy
Your appliances can use a significant amount of electricity, so the next time that you are replacing them, look for the Energy Star seal, which means that the appliance has been certified to have a low rate of energy use. Also look into your lighting – if you have traditional incandescent bulbs, replace them with one of many energy saving alternatives. As with many “green” choices, you will save your wallet as well as the Earth!
6. Shopping bag savvy
How much plastic do you waste every year by using shopping bags only once? You can reuse the free shopping bags that you get from the grocery store for years if you take care of them properly. When it comes to shopping bags, the options are many, and bags range from trendy to basic, from canvas to recycled plastic or even, in some cases, vintage clothing refashioned into stylish totes. Keep 5-10 in your car at all times, and, more importantly, use them!
If everyone in the U.S. took just one of these six steps, the damage that we are doing to our environment would be reduced. So think about it – what can you do today to make an impact on tomorrow?
Virginia Ginsburg writes about sustainable products, green living, and her quest for a socially-conscious lifestyle. She is founder of Green Baby Gifts http://www.greenbabygiftsonline.com, which offers beautifully-wrapped baby gifts made of bamboo fiber and packaged in completely recycled and recyclable packaging.