If you’re new to going green, the extent of your knowledge on all things eco-friendly may start with recycling cans and bottles and end with hybrid vehicles. You might not have any clue about the amazing array of environmental products and innovations that are out there to help you reduce your carbon footprint and live a green lifestyle. In fact, you will be surprised by all the big and little things you can do to green up your routine.
So whether you need a crash course in environmental sensibilities or you’re just looking for a few new ideas to try out, here are several ways you can do your part to cut back on waste and pollution without giving up the things you love.
- Organic food. Crops that are grown without chemicals (pesticides, fertilizer, etc.) and animals that are raised without hormones or antibiotics are not only better for the planet, they’re also better for you and your family (since those toxins may be stored in your body for years, wreaking all kinds of unknown havoc). Plus, you’ll be amazed at the difference in taste.
- Organic fabric. The fibers that make up these textiles are either grown without chemicals or humanely harvested (no silk worms are killed in the making of peace silk, sheep used for wool are free range, and so on). It’s not only kinder to the Earth and its denizens; it’s also free of allergens and ideal for sensitive skin (use it for clothing, linens, and other fabrics in the home).
- Energy conservation. This is simpler than you might think. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use (and unplug electronics to stop phantom drain). Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-saving CFLs. Purchase energy-star appliances. Use low-flow toilets and aerated faucets. And if you’re really gung-ho, install some solar panels! Just make sure to check for rebates and government incentives to get all the savings that are coming to you.
- Recycled paper products. Did you know that every year an estimated 4 billion trees are cut and turned into paper products? Luckily, it’s easy to do your part to cut this number. Make sure to recycle paper that you use, and then think about purchasing recycled products, such as calendars, handmade graduation cards (birthday, graduation, etc.), cups and containers, and even tissue and towels. Almost anything made of paper can be found in a recycled capacity, so look for the green label.
- Community garden. There’s no better way to love the Earth than to create more green spaces. Get your family, friends, and neighbors involved in creating a community garden that will provide beauty, oxygen, and organic fruits, veggies, and herbs for all.
- Mass transit. Forget the hybrid; get on board with trains and buses (especially if they’re biodiesel buses). A carpool is great, but there’s no better way to cut your carbon footprint on your way to work than by utilizing mass transit
(bonus: you don’t have to deal with traffic or parking!). Of course, if you live close enough, you may want to walk or ride a bike whenever possible.
- Green building. The ultimate in living green is embracing eco-friendly building. It can be pretty expensive, but you’ll end up with a house that produces a fraction of the waste and pollution of a normal home (and offsets it by returning green energy to the power grid). If you want to spend a little less, think about a pre-fab house, which cuts construction waste by up to 40%.