by Madoline Hatter (guest post)
Going green in your life doesn't mean you have to make massive changes. Some of the greenest things you can do are the small ones. Making everyday changes to your life is easy to put into place one small step at a time. Here are some simple ways you can make your life greener and more eco-friendly:
1. Shop Seasonally and Locally – When you buy your food it is easy to pick the brands and products you are familiar with. However if you think about it many of these items must be shipped a long way to get to your grocery store's shelves. Instead, why not pick up some locally grown or made foods. Not only are they usually cheaper because of a reduction in shipping costs but they are also better for you and for the environment. Buying locally grown or made food means fewer carbon emissions from transportation. It also supports the local economy. Not only that, but produce that is grown locally is also grown seasonally meaning it is better for you and tastes better too. Eating seasonally helps you to keep a variety in your diet and you can even try new foods that you may fall in love with. It is also cheaper to buy foods in season.
2. Go Back to the Basics of Cleaning – In the old days there were not a lot of cleaning products on the market. Basic items like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, backing soda and pine oils were about your only selections. Today you can embrace the classics and clean green with these same items. Instead of polluting the environment and your home with noxious chemicals, stay clean and healthy and breathe easier by cleaning with natural products. Hydrogen peroxide is a great natural anti-bacterial agent and whitener. Baking soda works to scrub off tough stains and get into the cracks and crevices of your home. Vinegar helps to neutralize odors and get rid of tough stains. Pine oils and other essential oils like orange and lemon are great for cleaning and shining wood surfaces. Pine oil is also anti-bacterial!
3. Reduce Your Water Use –Cutting down on your water use does not mean you can only bathe once a week or never water your lawn. It is simple to cut down your water use and save yourself money as well as saving some strain on the environment. Cut off a minute of your shower time by turning off the water as you shampoo, condition and shave. Turn off the water as you brush your teeth. Do the dishes all at once. If by hand, wash the cups and utensils first and the pots and pans last. That way the water will stay cleaner longer and you can get it all done in one sink. If you use a dishwasher make sure it is completely full before you run it and run it on the fastest setting. In the yard you can water early in the morning or late at night to reduce evaporation. Run it low and slow to reduce run off as well.
4. Plant Local Flora – Speaking of saving water, planting local flora instead of grass is a great way to save water and time in maintaining your yard. Local flora is accustomed to the rainfall and temperature of your area. Not only does it require less maintenance but it is also more resistant to disease and predation by local fauna. You can even set up a wildlife area and attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your yard!
5. Natural Fertilizers – Instead of filling your yard with fake food, why not go the natural way? Not only is it better for your yard and the environment, but it is more affordable too. It only takes a small effort to set up your own compost pile and get to making some nutritious and delicious dirt for your plants. Everyday trash can go into the pile. Items like banana peels, orange peels, egg shells and other organic waste make for great compost. Cut down on the trash sent to landfills and get free dirt all in one step!
6. Recycle – As much as recycling has become a part of our lives there are still some of us who don't do it as regularly as we should. Make it easy on yourself by setting aside special bins for different kinds of recyclables. Glass, plastic, paper and so on can all be recycled easily. Many garbage collectors often will take recycling as well. Or take it up to your local school or recycling center. Even items like Christmas trees can be recycled. If you drink a lot of canned beverages you can save those up and get money back at an aluminum recycling center. Don't forget that old appliances can be recycled as well and sometimes you can get money back on those too. Old computers can often bring in some cash from their expensive parts as well.
7. Climate Control – One of the biggest expenses and biggest polluters in our homes are the climate controls. Heating and cooling costs are astronomical and the electricity they use is equally so. Cut down on your cooling costs during the summer by running fans, sealing cracks and covering windows. The sun shining in those windows can create more heat than you would think. Cracks can allow cool air to escape and hot air to take its place. Fans help to keep you cool more affordably than air conditioners by dispersing the heat around your body so that even a warm room feels cooler. In the winter, those cracks should still be filled. Cold air can blow in and warm air escape easily. Windows should be covered at night to avoid the chill factor and uncovered when it is sunny to capture that heat. Keep warmer by bundling up and using other heating elements, like leftover heat from cooking.
8. Cooking Green –Speaking of cooking, you need to be mindful of how you cook as well as what you cook. As I mentioned it is a good idea to cook using high heat during the winter. Using the oven and stove top to cook during the winter helps to heat the entire home and keep down the electric bill. However the same concept does not apply in the summer. Try to avoid using the oven and stove and instead opt for cooking in a slow cooker, outside on the grill, or even eating cold foods. A great way to cut down on pollution and cook your food in the summer is a traditional method in many countries.
Burying your food with hot coals to cook it low and slow is a great way to cook in the heat. Do not just cook a little bit either. Make a whole bunch of food and then save a portion of it for some other meals. That way you can just cook once and then heat it up quickly when you need it.
9. Drink More Water, But Less Bottled –Last but not least I'd like to talk about what we drink. Many of us drink a lot of sugary, artificial beverages that are not good for us or for the environment. Those plastic bottles add up as does the transportation and manufacturing costs. Instead, drink more water. Not the bottled kind but the filtered kind. A filter can give you the same great taste and quality of bottled water but without the high cost or environmental impact. Filtered water is better for you too than drinking
from plastics that can seep toxins into the water. Try using glass or proper containers for drinking water and make sure you don't cause leeching by putting other beverages in those containers like lemon juices or tomato juices which can be very acidic. As you can see it is not very hard to make small changes in your everyday life and live greener.
It only takes a little bit of thought to change your habits and make a positive impact on the environment. Going green starts one small step at a time, so try out some of these ideas in your home today.
This article is contributed by Madoline Hatter. Madoline is a freelance writer and blog junkie from ChangeOfAddressForm.com.