You're ready to go green – congratulations! It can, however, be overwhelming. How and where do you start your new going green lifestyle? Great ways to go green begin with the basic 4 R's – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remake.
What does “reduce” mean in the context of ways to go green? It means, simply, reduce your consumption. Everything you purchase takes energy to create; nothing simply comes from the store. When energy is produced at coal-fired plants, dangerous greenhouse gasses are emitted. When you purchase goods, consider the entire process of production, from the harvesting of (possible dwindling) resources through the energy used through the fuel used to transport the finished product to your store. Going green means choosing products that have a smaller carbon footprint. Buy less, buy local and choose quality over quantity are great ways to go green.
Go green by bringing reusable bags when you go shopping. The plastic bags from grocery stores end up everywhere – in trees, littering our streets, and even in the ocean. As much as 80% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is comprised of plastic - which is not biodegradable.
You can also reduce your energy and water consumption. Only do full loads of wash and try to hang clothes to dry when possible. Who doesn't love the feel of snuggling into sheets hung on a line to dry? Turn out lights and appliances when you're not in the room. Add an extra blanket to your bed and turn down the thermostat by a couple of degrees each winter night until you find your lowest comfortable temperature. Add a fan in the summer and see how many degrees you can add to the thermostat. Turn off the water while you wash your hair and body in the shower, then turn back on to rinse.
Simple, right? Probably the simplest of ways to go green. Reuse things. Get a BPA-free plastic, aluminum or stainless steel bottle and use it. Tap water is regulated and tested whereas most bottled water is not - although I do recommend you use a fluoride-removing filter. Choose a few travel mugs so you always have one handy even if you leave another in the car or at work … plus many coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing in your own mug! My favorite? A mason jar with lid. There are no chemicals to leech into my beverage, and if the jar ever breaks it is fully recyclable. Another way to reuse is to “up-cycle.” You need a dresser? Find an old one for free on craigslist.org or for cheap at your local Goodwill and refinish it to fit with your décor. Instead of throwing usable items away to clutter a landfill, go green by posting on craigslist or freecycle, list clothing with an online consignment shop such as ShopKarma, or donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army … and you'll get a charitable donation tax deduction!
Sort your trash and recycle everything you can. Think about packaging when you're purchasing – is the container something that can be recycled? Plastics can be recycled, but not into the same grade of plastic - the polymers separate and create an inferior plastic – whereas glass and paper can keep their integrity during the recycling process. Recycling plastics is great, but choosing non-plastic options takes going green to the next level!
Turn an armoire into a chicken coop. Turn a mason jar into a lamp. One of my favorite examples is a neighbor who put her entire bed frame - headboard, footboard and rails - in the front yard, then planted a garden inside it. Let your imagination take control!
These are just a few ways to go green to get you started.
Remember; think globally, act locally!
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