Here’s my 10 tips for going green in the New Year! We started out slow, making changes as we could. In the end it’s all about doing things that you’re comfortable with and that you’ll actually commit to doing long term!
1) Don’t use disposable items! This one is huge, and can make a big difference. This one also covers a lot of bases. By disposable items I mean plastic grocery bags, paper/Styrofoam coffee cups (both from shops and at work), bottled water, coffee filters, feminine products, etc. Instead invest in some quality reusable items, maybe a couple of each if you think you won’t remember to bring them with you. One for at work or stashed in your car and one at home! After a while it becomes second nature to always have these things on you. Some reusable items I like to use: A good metal water canteen, canvas grocery bags (there are some really cute ones on Etsy and I also have compact bag I keep in my purse at all times for general shopping), a travel mug / thermos, for feminine products check out the Diva cup and cloth liners.
2) Buy local, organic, non processed food! Sign up for a food delivery service if available. Buying local not only helps the economy it’s also great for the environment seeing how your food isn’t being shipped around the world. Buying organic food is important for reducing not only the toxins in your body but also reduces the amount of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers being used. If you can’t afford to buy all organic produce print out a wallet sized copy of “the dirty dozen”, a list of the foods with the highest and lowest concentrations of pesticide. Buying non-processed foods with minimal ingredients is also important not only for your health but also the environment. The plants producing these foods use up a lot of resources, energy and normally use GMO corn and soy, which has had few, if any independent food safety studies.
3) EAT LESS MEAT! This is seriously so important. On so many levels.. The environmental impact of the meat industry is insane, (click here to read an article in scientific american). Not to mention most of the meat on the market is produced inhumanely, full of hormones and antibiotics. Reducing your meat consumption is probably the number one way to make an impact on the environment and it’s healthier for you! I’ll be posting lots of yummy vegetarian recipes throughout the year so hopefully you and your family can commit to at the very least Meatless Mondays!
4) Stop buying everything brand new. This one is also great for your wallet! Check kijiji, craigslist, freecycle, or any other local website that allows users to sell, swap, or give away items! I also like to frequent local thrift stores whenever there is something I need. If I can find it at the thrift store I usually save at least half the cost.
5) Obviously follow reduce, reuse, recycle! I try to reduce waste by buying products with minimal packaging and I don’t use those plastic produce bags for my produce (I never really understood them anyways). I also try to buy products in glass containers over plastic ones so I’ll be able to reuse them in my pantry. I also wash any yogurt or other plastic containers and keep them for storing stuff later. Finally Recycle. Set up bags for recyclables, compost, and bottles to be returned for cash. It’s really not that much extra work once you get in the habit and as a bonus you won’t need to change your garbage as frequently.
6) Stop throwing away all your old items. Someone else may have a use for that old toaster, or your unwanted clothes. Instead donate them to a local secondhand store, as long as it’s in decent condition they’ll be happy to take it off your hands and it saves these items from the landfill.
7) Invest in quality items. When you’re purchasing things for your home, or clothes, shoes etc make sure you’re buying good quality products. They last longer, can be repaired instead of thrown away, and in the long run replacing cheap items will actually cost you more than investing in more expensive ones. Also, if possible try to shop more locally, at little shops in your town rather than big chains. Or look on Etsy! You can find some great homemade products there!
8) Use environmentally friendly products in your home! For cleaning supplies I started making my own using simple ingredients like vinegar, essential oils, borax and Dr. Bronner’s magic soaps. I even made my own laundry and bath soap, so much cheaper! If you’re not into making your own soaps there are lots of other environmentally friendly options. Just check at your local “green” store. I also love Lush soaps but they’re pretty pricey!
9) Try to stop using energy draining appliances like dishwashers and dryers. I find dishwashers never really get dishes as clean as hand washing anyways. Instead just hand wash all your dishes and let them air dry. If there are lots of people in your family take turns or have one person wash and one dry after meals. Instead of drying your clothes set up a clothesline or dryer rack. Clothes smell amazing after being dried outside in the summer and for the winter months I set up a clothesline in my basement.
10) Start a garden! Planting a garden is so rewarding! Yeah it’s a lot of work, but when you get to eat free food that you produced it’s totally worth it! Plus now you have somewhere to use all your compost and you’re helping produce oxygen! Win win!
Hopefully these tips will help you start making little changes in your life in order to live more sustainably! Let me know what other tips/tricks you’ve picked up along the way =)