By now, most people have GREEN on their radar. From political campaigns to the daily news, we’re hearing more and more every day about why it’s important to start preserving as opposed to consuming.
Of course, we can’t stop consumption. This isn’t the idea. We all need things. We need food, clothing, shelter and we need to enhance our lives with beauty and our personal sense of style. What we can do is make smarter choices. We can re-use things. We can do-it-yourself … make your own products as opposed to buying chemically enhanced products. We can use or support clean energy to reduce gas costs (Yes, this really DOES make a difference).
But what are the first steps?
For many of us, we want to make the switch, but knowing how to start is the hard part. We like our lives the way they are, and struggle with the idea of change. We don’t want a drastically different lifestyle.
The good news is that as going green becomes more popular (and necessary), there are more options that in fact enhance our lives rather than disrupting them. Going green is a gradual, progressive process. There are actions that we can easily take today, and then there are concepts that take a little more work – ideals that we can strive for.
Top 5 things you can do today:
1) Unplug it!
Did you know that “phantom energy” is a major consumer of expensive (for you and the country), non-necessary energy? And that you are most-likely consuming phantom energy right now, as you read this?
Picture your house or apartment before you go to bed at night. You’re relaxed, and it’s dark outside. Are the lights on? Probably not. But is your cell phone plugged in, even though it’s fully charged? Is there a power tool or toaster plugged in that you’re not using?
These devices that are plugged in are vampires, consuming energy even when they are turned off.
The biggest energy wasters in homes are cell-phone chargers, digital camera chargers, major appliances and power tool chargers. These devises absorb power whenever they’re plugged into an outlet, whether or not the device is charged or connected.
This wasted energy (aka “phantom energy”) is a significant percentage of home electricity use (about 5%). If you multiply this across all American households, it adds up to about 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. What does that number mean? This phantom energy costs consumers more than $5.8 billion each year. What does that mean for you? It could be costing you hundreds a year – not to mention the effect on the planet.
2) Organic vs. Local food
Most of us have access to organic food in our grocery stores. In some places, it’s more accessible than others.The movement to make organic food economical is still in progress. But more and more chain stores are stocking organic food, with affordable prices.
Next time you go grocery shopping, look for the food isle in the grocery store. You might be surprised to find that organic is not always more expensive. Many chain grocery stores are stocking generic organic products.
But perhaps just as importantly is buying local. Do you see that produce stand on your way home from work? Fresh blueberries and zucchini? Has it occurred to you that there aren’t any expensive fuel costs in getting that food from its origin to your kitchen, and that most likely local farms don’t need to use the harmful pesticides that commercial farmers need to keep produce “Fresh” ? The best option is organic AND local. But if you can’t find organic, choose LOCAL. Most likely, they use safer farming practices than commercial farms. Stop at the next produce stand you might otherwise pass by.
3) Smart lighting!
Do you cringe when you see your monthly energy bill, all the while knowing you could do something to reduce your payment not to mention your impact on the planet? But you don’t know exactly how. What can you do?
Well, you can buy energy-efficient light bulbs. Not only are they cheaper than their conventional alternatives (check them out at Costco!) but will last 10 times as longer. They will initially cost more but you will save money and not have to buy light bulbs for months longer than their counterparts. Your cost savings? HUGE. Your effect on the planet if enough of us make this choice? PRICELESS.
There are so many objects that can be reinvented. Your imagination is the limit. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
* Re-use baby food jars as votive candle holders for a country living look. Remove the labels, of course.
* Re-use egg cartons as seed planters
* Re-use wine bottles as flower vases
* Re-use wine bottles as rolling pins
* Re-use coffee grounds as plant fertilizer
These ideas can spark many more. Use your imagination!
Do you recycle? If not, maybe it’s because the process seems confusing and time consuming. What do you recycle and what do you throw away? In our busy society, we simply don’t have time to separate all our waste – especially when the benefits are often vague and unknown. Did you know that recently, many of the biggest cities in the U.S. have taken this into consideration? They have actually made it much easier on us.
Yeah! Really! In Portland, OR, for instance, all residents are given a huge, closed recycling dumpster that is bigger than their garbage bin.To top it off, residents can combine most everything – except for glass and motor oil – into ONE BIN. We can throw our paper and cottage cheese containers and pop cans into one huge dumpster – no separating. Just put your glass on the side. That’s it. Easy right? RIGHT. The Powers-That-Be are starting to recognize that we need a solution to our consumption and waste problem. If you’re not recycling, the next time you get your garbage bill, go to their website and check for information on larger bins. If they’re not offering them already, believe me, you’re not the first person to ask. BE VOCAL.
Written by Elizabeth Johnston, creator of http://www.organic-baby-and-mom.com
“Pampering Babies and Moms with the Best of Nature”
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