Six Simple Ways to Make Your Life More Green
1.) Re-use Gift Wrapping Paper
Unwrap gifts with a little concern, or teach your little ones a new environmental lesson before they make a mess with the ripping into birthday or holiday packaging. The amount of paper that could be saved is astronomical, if each of us were to recycle wrapping paper from just a few gifts each year.
Get a bag or a box, and start saving bows, ribbons and neatly folded, carefully removed gift wrapping paper. No one will know the difference. Trust me. And if they do, you have the perfect opportunity to bring up a conversation about conservation, without sounding overbearing. They’ll feel great to have helped out without having done anything.
2.) Grocery Bags
When they ask you if you want paper or plastic, just say neither. Spend a dollar at the store and buy a re-usable cotton or hemp bag, and keep them in the trunk of your car for shopping. For a look at the environmental impact of both paper bags and plastic bags, read these former Easy Ways to Go Green blog posts. Get creative with your kids and find blank canvas bags online — this will give your kids a chance to be creative, and paint or decorate the grocery bags to personalize them.
3.) Houseplants Can Be Your Friends
It has been noted that many green house plants can assist in the process of removing indoor air pollutants if you cultivate and care for them indoors. Plants like English ivy and others such as golden pothos practically grow themselves. Don’t worry — they’re harder to kill than keep alive. And they’ll be helping keep you alive as they fight environmental toxins in the home. More on environmentally friendly house plants here.
4.) Eliminate Junk Mail
Hate the junk mail that comes in your mail box just about every day? For most of us, that pile of materials goes directly into the trash. For others, it goes directly into the recycling bin. Neither party ever reads any of it, and yet it still shows up every day. Take a second and visit the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service to register not to receive junk mail any longer. The process may take a few months, but eventually, you won’t get so much trash in the mail.
5.) Buy Bulk
Tea drinker? Couple of trips to the local coffee house every morning? Eat cereal or oatmeal? Next time you buy tea, for instance, think about choosing loose leaf over packaged tea. Reducing the amount of packaging materials that you use can make a big difference to the environment.
Think about packaged tea — there’s the card stock paper box wrapped in plastic, the paper inside, the plastic that is often wrapped around the tea bag, the tea bag, the string, the tiny staple and the tea tag. All of those materials get disposed of, typically not recycled, and much of it can be eliminated by buying bulk loose leaf tea and using your own tea infuser.
5.) Green Your Driving
No — I’m not going to make a blanket statement that we should all run out and buy a brand new Prius — it’s not going to be possible for everyone and it isn’t the only way to green up your vehicle. Further, there’s no reason to make people feel bad about failing so miserably right out of the gate when it comes to efficient vehicles.
If you can afford it, buy a hybrid. But there are plenty of other ways to do something about fuel consumption and vehicle pollution. Carpool if and when you can — you have to get over identifying with your vehicle and your alone time first, but it’s worth the small sacrifice. Bike to work if you can; you’ll be getting exercise and helping the planet at the same time.
Or just plain drive smarter when you get behind the wheel — get timely tuneups and keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure to ensure maximum gas-saving efficiency. If you take long trips on the highway (out of the way of traffic), then switch to cruise control to improve your mileage. Curb your urge to drive like your car is a weapon — take off from stops less aggressively, brake more gently and slow down when you can. The speed limit isn’t so bad. And get out of the drive-thru: either quit the fast food or park the car and walk it.
Final Thoughts on Easy Steps to Going Green
Taking meaningful yet small steps towards going greener this year can lead to real, measurable and positive change for the planet. A few easy questions here and there, changing a habit or two, educating yourself and making smarter choices — a little bit at a time is really all that it takes. Think about the many millions of people living in America, making one collective change all at once — that alone could pay huge dividends for our future.
Now check out last week’s installment of 4 more great ways to positively change the planet!