These days, being eco-conscious is on the forefront of discussions for all kinds of topics. Whether it’s your child’s school planting a garden and serving the produce in the school cafeteria, employee incentives for carpooling, or your store starting to add a charge for plastic and paper bags, we can’t ignore that the world is moving more and more in that direction. How is a busy family to keep up? Most of us want to incorporate a greener aesthetic into our home-life but it all can seem so overwhelming! Where to start? No worries! In honor of Earth Day upcoming celebration, the following are 10 ways you can start going green in your home today!
1. Start Using Cloth Napkins
I know, I know, it is so much easier to use and toss those paper napkins, but one load of cloth napkins a few times a week isn’t a lot of extra laundry and is so much better for the environment. Plus they are much prettier than paper napkins and can be changed seasonally or to match your mood or décor. They can be found inexpensively at so many retailers now or, if you are in need of a crafting challenge, you can make your own for pennies on the dollar. For those of you who want to take it up a notch or are already using cloth napkins, there are also lots of options for reusable paper towels as well.
2. Stop Using Disposable Bags
Most major retailers currently sell reusable bags for carrying your purchases home. However, if you are the crafty type, you can crochet, knit or sew your own out of your favorite yarns or fabrics. To go further here, stop using disposable plastic baggies as well. Reusable snack and sandwich pouches get cheaper every day and come in cute patterns and colors. They are much better for you too!
Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s better for your wallet! Compact fluorescent lights use 66% less energy than conventional light bulbs. This is huge in both energy and financial savings.
4. Grow Some Food And Buy Local
Whether you decide to grow some kitchen herbs or plant a whole vegetable garden, it’s a big step forward in making your family more green. Large scale food growing operations use far more energy in growing and transporting food over long distances. Eating food that is local and in season means it is fresher for you and benefits farmers in your own local community.
5. Wash Clothes In Cold Water And Use Dryer Balls
Using cold water for laundry uses 90% less electricity and using dryer balls speeds up laundry drying time, also reducing energy cost. Also, remember to lower the water level for smaller loads or just resolve to only do full loads.
6. Go Vegetarian 3-5 Nights A Week
Meat production is tough on the environment and eating less of it is healthier for our bodies. Get protein from beans and other plant sources a few nights a week. It takes less land, less supplies, and there are far fewer environmental costs to growing vegetables fruits and grains than in the production of dairy, meat and eggs.
7. Don’t Just Recycle, Reduce
Try to get off of junk mailing lists when at all possible. Don’t bring extra papers like store receipts, newsletters, fliers into the house. Reuse glass sauce and jam jars. Try to buy products that are fresh and that come in as little packaging as possible. Try to only buy products that can be recycled or are already made of recycled content.
8. Ban Buying New
Try not to buy new for big ticket items unless you actually have to. Did your old refrigerator break down? Try to track down a used one, or at least buy an energy efficient one. Many things are perfectly fine buying second hand. If it is something you need just once in a while, like a lawnmower, tools, see if you can form a borrowing group with some of your neighbors. Maybe you can even share the cost of some items and borrow when needed, housing them all in a central location.
9. Eliminate Electricity When Possible
Most of us are not willing to go entirely without it, but keeping appliances unplugged we aren’t using, turning off lights when we leave the room and keeping lights off until they are absolutely necessary can go a long way in keeping our electrical usage and costs down.
10. Travel Wisely
Group errands together so they can be done all at once, one day a week instead of making multiple trips. Pledge to walk anywhere that is a two mile round trip from your house when at all possible. Order online instead of travelling somewhere far away for a hard to find item.
Going green doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Even simple recycling and reusing in the kitchen can go a long way to help the environment. It is something that, when done mindfully, can be done little by little on a daily basis. Really, you only have to go as green as you want. Not every family is up for dealing with family cloth, but might be willing to try cloth napkins or cloth diapers. Some of us are excited at the notion or building our own compost bin, but others think maybe they could handle growing some herbs on a sunny windowsill. It really is up to you. Examine why you want to be more eco-conscious and discuss it with your family members. If you can decide together the areas that you want to focus on, being green gets even easier because you are moving along together to achieve a more eco-friendly home. It really can be easy being green! Have a happy Earth Day!