Ready to Go Green? Start Slow.
If you’re a late bloomer when it comes to green living, it’s not too late. You can still make changes to your everyday habits and activities to go easier on the planet, and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There’s no rule book that says if everything in your pantry isn’t stamped “Organic”, then you haven’t done enough. AND – it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Here are 10 ways to ease into green living:
- 1. Recycle.This sounds like a no-brainer for most, but consider if you left all of your garbage in your house for a year without trash pickups. Not only would you be the #1 episode of Hoarders, ever, but you’d also have compiled quite a mountain of putrid waste. By taking a few extra seconds to toss your can or your junk mail into a bin instead of the trash can, you’re turning that mountain into a mole hill.
- 2. Simplify your shower.Tomorrow morning, count how many bottles and tubes of goo are piled up in your shower. Now look at the long list of un-pronounceable ingredients on the back. You can save some serious money by tossing the million shower gels and face washes and scrubs, and just getting an old-fashioned bar of soap. Head to the natural section at your grocery store and pick a natural bar of whatever strikes your fancy for about a buck.
- 3. Skip the paper AND plastic.You’ve seen the recyclable bags hanging in checkout lanes to discourage you from using plastic. The problem is, they’re WAY too easy to forget in the house or in the trunk of your car. Instead, buy a couple Chico Bags. They fold into themselves when you’re not using them, like a pair of socks. So you can keep them in your purse all the time, or if you’re a guy toss them in the floor of the passenger seat.
- 4. Embrace Leftovers. Every time you get carryout for lunch during the workweek, or even scarf down a microwave meal, you’re leaving behind tons of trash and packaging. By stowing your leftovers from dinner the night before into a plastic container, you’ll not only save money and trash, you’ll also prevent yourself from sneaking into the kitchen at night for “one more bite”.
- 5. Keep gift packaging. This one serves super double duty. Every time you buy a gift, you spend $5+ on a bag and tissue paper. Start saving the packaging from gifts you receive – smooth out and fold up the tissue paper, fold up the bag, and keep them in a bin in your basement. In addition to saving tons of money, you’ll always have gift bags on hand when you remember at the last minute!
- 6. Turn down the heat. Everyone keeps their heat set at the exact degree they feel most comfortable with. But just turning it down one tiny degree in the winter could save a ton of energy, and a pretty good chunk of money.
- 7. Upgrade your light bulbs for free. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs is a big energy saver. Many energy companies offer free bulbs – you just have to request them. Go to your local energy provider’s website to see if it’s available in your area.
- 8. Eat less. Huh? You may be asking how eating less is good for the environment. When you buy a burger, think of the “paper trail” of how that burger ended up in your hands. All the food Mr. Cow ate before he became a burger, all the emissions he created AFTER he ate a meal, all the fuel spent carting him across the country to your favorite fast food joint, all the paper and plastic he was handed to you in. If you’re starting to fall off the wagon of your weight loss resolution, now’s the perfect time to embrace this way to live greener!
- 9. Get a surge protector. Did you know your appliances still suck energy even when you’re not using them? There are things you can’t really turn off, like the fridge or the cable box. (Unless you want to wait a few hours for the cable to reboot after you unplug it.) But try hooking up your kitchen appliances like the microwave, coffeemaker, and toaster to a surge protector. Flip the switch off when you’re not using them to cut off the line of power. Over the course of the year, might add up to some savings.
- 10. Skip the smelly stuff. It feels so good to fill your home with the scents of vanilla cupcake and cinnamon roll, all thanks to plugins and sprays and candles. But those aren’t REAL vanilla cupcake smells coming from your homemade baked goods. They’re imposters, chemicals, that fill the air of your house with pollution. If you insist on a delightfully smelly house, try a warmer with some orange oil or peppermint oil that you can get from places like Whole Foods.
Hopefully at least one of these items sounds easy enough for you to make a quick change! Once you do, it’ll feel empowering and you’ll want to do more and more to simplify your life AND be nice to the planet. Good luck!