Green Living is an admirable but elusive goal. There are many obstacles to sustainability between massive energy consumption, copious amounts of garbage generated, and the lure of conveniences that are clearly self serving (yes, you in the fast food drive through line that is seven cars deep). You can take gradual proactive steps to living a more Green and Sustainable lifestyle if you just know what to do. Below are some New Year’s Resolutions to inch closer to Green Living.
1. Waste not. This is one of the easiest and most effective Green Living mantras but it seems counter intuitive to our consumption-driven, advertising-fueled existence. Do not load more food on your plate than you can comfortably eat – you can always go back for seconds! But serving too much that ends up in the garbage is waste beyond reason. Same with anything you take freely – do not spray more cleaner than needed, do not overwater plants, do not buy more groceries than you can eat before they spoil and don’t print things you can read off a computer.
2. Minimize energy consumption. This can be as simple as walk or ride your bike rather than drive two blocks to the store but there are other examples every day. Keep your thermostat at a reasonable level rather than trying to duplicate the tropics in January. Do not keep your laptop constantly plugged in. Do not run the TV when you aren’t in the room. And one of the most common phantom users of electricity are ceiling fans left on for days at a time – when no one is home! Be aware that energy is costly, uses our finite natural resources and creates a mountain of environmental issues in the process of being created. Minimizing energy consumption is a huge step in Green Living!
3. Use Items to the Fullest. I speak from experience that my childhood was wrought with a disposable mentality that belies reason. Rather than fix something, we just bought a new version of whatever caught our fancy. I seem to recall getting a new toaster about every other year even though the appliance repair shop was right down the street. We didn’t even have a problem with some of them, but just didn’t want to bother cleaning it. Seriously! But using something to its maximum useful life doesn’t mean hoarding – if you’ve finished with it, donate it, consign it, or at least lend it to someone who can use it rather than just tossing it.
4. Recycle. This goes beyond the obvious red bin at the end of your driveway on trash pickup day. Think of all the plastic that comes into your life and strive to recycle as much as you can. Don’t throw away plastic forks – either wash and reuse them or put them in the recycle with your milk jugs. That dreadful hard plastic that surrounds all the items you buy? Recycle it too. The plastic rings that connect soda cans? Throw it into the recycle mix. If your municipal recycling is limited to only certain items, find other sources either through your work, at local businesses, at the county, etc. For instance, many restaurants recycle their cooking oil and cardboard boxes – ask if you can add to the mix as they often get paid for their contributions by weight.
5. Buy local as much as possible. Not only are ‘Buy Local’ campaigns a nice warm fuzzy to support the community you live in, but they are amazing contributors to Green Living values. Buying local eliminates shipping and therefore fuel consumption. It negates the need for preservatives on food therefore everything is fresher and healthier. There are also amazing health benefits by eating foods grown within your own climate and region but that is a book all in itself. But buying local is beneficial from many angles and is a poster child activity for Green Living.
6. Do not poison the Earth. We unknowingly contribute bad things to our world and we must learn how to stop. Simple examples: Using bleach to clean the toilet adds a toxic chemical into the water supply. Spraying synthetic pesticides around our homes kills beneficial creatures like honey bees and butterflies. Fuel-infused charcoal for our grills puts toxins in the atmosphere and in our bodies when we ingest the food cooked over those grills. All of these poisons stay within our world. Yes, they are diluted, but they do not go away and are accumulating at alarming rates. Love our planet and be kind.
These are 6 simple steps to incorporate Green Living for 2013. We’ve strayed away from Earth stewardship for a few generations so the shift back towards harmonious existence with the planet won’t happen overnight. Being aware, learning when you can and striving towards true Green Living is about as good a New Year’s Resolution as there is.
Louise Hodges is the owner of Greenbug which offers effective, safe and green pest control products. You can now safely eliminate pests without using toxic chemicals!
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