Wednesday, March 21, 2012

10 Easy Ways to Get Greener Now

I have really done a lot of research and reading about greener living. Like I said before, I implemented small changes in our household along and along. I am just now starting to get serious about becoming a more eco-friendly and self-sustaining household. This is and will continue to be a difficult journey at times because some changes are uncomfortable. But there are some changes you can make that don't require much of an adjustment. My top ten suggestions:

  1. Recycle. You don't have to go all in to start with. Choose just plastic for starters. Plastic is a synthetic material made from petroleum. Some are more toxic than others. When these are are burned they produce toxic fumes and when they sit in landfills they pollute the ground and water. Most plastics are recyclable and, once you start separating them from the rest of your trash, you will be shocked at how much plastic your household uses.
  2. Change your thermostat by one degree. Seriously. Just one degree up on the air conditioning and one degree down on the heat will make a difference in your electric bill. If everyone in America would take this one simple step, we could affect the country's energy consumption dramatically. For a bigger difference, make a bigger adjustment.
  3. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. This will save up to 5 gallons of water per day per family member, reducing your water bill and conserving water.
  4. Rent movies.  You could pay $20 for a new DVD or you could rent it for about $4. Better yet, get a subscription for unlimited rentals at an online service like Netflix. The same $20 would get you 3 DVDs at a time with no limit on the number per month at www.netflix.com. Watch fewer movies? The plans go as low as $5.99 per month. Too many movies end up on trash piles. If you do have movies or CDs to get rid of, donate them to your local library.
  5. Use a refillable water bottle. More Americans are trying to get healthy and one easy step is to drink more water. Unfortunately, being creatures of convenience, we find it easy to reach for pre-packaged bottled water. These brings us back to the problem in Step #1. Put a filter on your tap and refill your own bottle.
  6. Use both sides of the paper. Teach your kids to always use the front and back of their notebook paper and drawing paper. Schools throw away a tremendous amount of paper daily. For a bigger impact, ask your school about starting a recycling program for all that paper! Also, buy recycled paper whenever possible.
  7. Give up styrofoam. Opt for paper if you must use disposable cups or plates. Styrofoam is a man-made material that is not biodegradable, which means it will never break down into a natural form. It may erode over a long period of time into smaller pieces, but in a landfill situation it may take hundreds of years.
  8. Use your own bags. If you forget to bring them with you, choose paper over plastic if it's offered. Paper bags can be re-used as recycling bins when you get home (just one of many ways to re-use them) and they hold more items. This point also take us back to the issues in Step #1.
  9. Join a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture is a wonderful thing. Pay a yearly fee and each week  during the growing season you can pick up a basket of fresh, local produce. One local organic farmer near me charges $400 for a half share or $700 for a full share. The half share is approximately 4 pounds per week for 28 weeks. That's more than 100 pounds of organic locally grown produce for $400! It's a great deal if you can afford the up front cost and some will let you make payments! Go to www.localharvest.org to enter your zip code and find a CSA near you. 
  10. Dry your razor. This may sound cheap but it works! Razor blades degrade primarily from water, not use. Dry your razor after each use with a hair dryer or space heater. It only takes a few seconds and you can get up to a year out of each blade! I don't mean a dull blade that nicks your skin. I am talking a razor that stays sharp for up to a year! If every American used this trick, how many disposable razors would be saved from landfills?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great article! :) It'll be a few years before we can afford to join a CSA, but I will definitely be finding out if we have any local ones (I imagine we should, as we live in an agricultural area outside of Chicago) for future use. Thanks for the interesting read, and I'll be back :)

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