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You may have gotten the impression that living green involves some sort of enormous campaign that will take all of your time and send you all over the globe. While that may be a dream of some conservationists, you can live a green lifestyle in your own home. In fact, it begins here – those who find a niche in going green in their own lifestyles may branch out and become eco-consultants or other professionals in the field of environmental conservation.
Here are some tips for implementing a green lifestyle at home.
This is where you cook, use appliances, and wash hands and dishes. The kitchen may be where you eat, too. So this is a good place to start with your green lifestyle.
* Save water in the kitchen by not pre-rinsing dishes and only running the dishwasher when it’s full. If you have to pre-rinse (some dishwashers just can’t handle non-rinsed dishes), then do so in a sink half-full of water. Scrub and rinse with the water off, and then load the dishwasher. You’ve only used half a sinkful of water to pre-rinse. You can also save water in the kitchen by washing produce in a pan of water.
* Appliance use is heavy in the kitchen, from the refrigerator to the stovetop. To save energy, you can combine the cooking of foods by baking more than one thing at the same time. On the stovetop, use residual heat where you can and place pots and pans on appropriately-sized stove eyes.
If possible, use energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen. And your parents were right – don’t hold the refrigerator door open!
In your bedroom, you can go green in some different ways.
* Use natural bedding such as cotton sheets without a lot of heavy dyes and deep colors.
* Place air-cleaning potted plants around your bedroom to purify the air. In kids’ bedrooms, potted plants can also be implemented as long as they are out of reach of young children.
The Living Room
In your main living space, you can go green by using fans to cool the room in the summer and a space heater to boost the central heat in the winter. You can also:
* Set potted plants around for cleaner air.
* Cover windows with shades or curtains to keep out hot sunshine in the summer, and open them in the winter to help warm the room.
* Make use of natural light as much as possible. Position reading chairs and couches so that window light comes from behind, over the reader’s shoulder. Use small lamps with CFLs and timers.
In rooms that are not being used, close vents to keep down heating and cooling costs and energy use. Make sure sunshine is not heating these rooms in the summer, and apply the same principle in reverse in the winter.
Pet ownership is a big responsibility – you have to care for the animal for its entire life, buying food, bedding, clothing, toys, and other supplies. But did you ever stop to think about the environmental responsibilities of owning a pet?
There is, in fact, a significant environmental consideration in owning a pet. Consider, for instance, the manufacture of pet foods and all the packaging involved, and consider the synthetic rubber and plastic toys pet owners often buy for their animals. Here are some tips on how you can make pet ownership more eco-friendly.
Dogs- When you walk your dog, you really need to scoop its poop. Leaving it outside pollutes the water supply and is unsanitary. It also changes the composition of the soil and kills grass and other plants. When you dispose of your pet’s waste, the most eco-friendly thing to do is seal it in a biodegradable bag and trashing it.
Cats – Scooping kitty litter is one of those tasks that most cat owners dislike, but you can at least make it a more eco-friendly venture by also using biodegradable bags to place the “scoopings” in. Also, effective, biodegradable kitty litter is available and is a good, eco-conscious choice.
Interestingly, pets produce more of that problematic waste material (i.e. poop) when they are fed cheap pet food that’s full of fillers and artificial colors. Also, the manufacture of pet foods on such a massive scale may not be the most environmentally friendly thing.
Consider making your own pet food, or buying sustainable, pre-made pet foods that are simple and natural. It’s not too hard to make your own pet treats, either – they are basically just hard biscuits made in pet-friendly flavors.
Does Your Dog or Cat Really Need That?
Let’s face it – it’s fun to buy little cute toys and things for your fur babies. But does your dog really need another rubber squeaky toy, and does your cat need another plastic dingle ball? Many dogs are happy with a stick or a favorite toy or two, and many cats just enjoy an inexpensive piece of string. Rope toys made from natural hemp are an option for dogs, and cats enjoy rolling on catnip, which you can grow yourself.
Controlling fleas is important for your pet’s health and comfort. But using pesticides on your pet’s body may be harmful both to your pet’s health and to the environment. Consider eco-friendly, herbal flea collars, sprays, or spot-on treatments. It’s also a good idea to comb your pet daily to remove fleas that were picked up outdoors before they get established.
There are varying degrees of green lifestyle choices you can make. It depends on your level of comfort, concern, and personal preference. More “advanced” green lifestyles differ from those who are just getting started, or who prefer to do just a few basic things. Here are some of the differences.
For a beginner or someone who simply prefers to do a few simple things, the basics usually cover it. This includes some or all of the following:
* Eating whole, natural foods grown organically and, if possible, locally
* Recycling household waste such as cardboard, paper, glass, and plastic
* Conserving water in the home by cutting back wherever possible
* Choosing eco-friendly paints when it’s time to redecorate
* Saving energy by turning out lights, installing CFLs, and using daylight whenever possible
* Saving energy by using electric appliances sparingly and in a strategic way (such as baking foods at the same time, using the microwave to reheat foods, etc.)
* Using solar lighting outdoors
* Cleaning the home with natural, eco-friendly cleaners, homemade and/or commercial
* Investing in more eco-friendly toys for children, such as wooden toys
* Cutting back on fuel use by walking, carpooling, or biking
* Using cloth bags for shopping
In addition to the above, a more advanced green lifestyle might include some or all of these lifestyle choices.
* Setting up a recycling program in the office, school, or community
* Organizing and/or participating in a community clean-up day
* Engaging in eco-friendly travel, such as driving a hybrid vehicle
* Installing solar panels, personal wind turbines, or other alternative means of generating electricity for the household
* Composting kitchen scraps in a worm bin or compost pile
* Growing your own food using organic methods
* Wearing only natural fibers and sustainable footwear
* Using only sustainable woods and materials in the home, such as natural linoleum or bamboo flooring, mango-wood furniture, and natural countertops
* Using only recycled materials in the home such as paper and cardboard
* Doing business as an eco-consultant
* Installing a low-flow toilet or composting toilet
* Building an entirely eco-friendly house out of natural materials
As you can see, there are varying degrees of going and being green. You may well begin with the basics and then add more and more of the more advanced options. And remember, you don’t have to be super-advanced to be effective in your greening efforts. The important thing is to take steps in the right direction and do what you are able to do.
Perhaps you think it takes someone special to live green, or maybe you believe it requires a certain personality type or income level. But in reality, green living is within everyone’s reach. Here’s how it works.
Think before You Buy
In our modern culture, it’s tempting just to go out and buy something new, cheap, and (usually) plastic whenever we have a need. But used items are worth considering, either from second-hand stores, antique stores, or yard sales. And it might pay to look around your house for hidden treasures first.
For instance, you may decide you need a lemonade pitcher or a container for iced tea. Rather than getting a cheap plastic one, look around and see what you can reuse – maybe a glass juice container that you were going to throw away would work just fine.
Did you know it’s considered “green” to buy pretty much anything second-hand? Clothing, furniture, lamps, appliances and so forth can all be purchased second-hand for a fraction of the cost, and it helps keep those items from being thrown away.
If you’ve looked at the price of organic food, you might think you can’t afford to go green with regard to the food you eat. But you don’t have to buy the expensive imported organic foods to be green; it’s just as eco-friendly to buy locally-grown produce or foods that are produced near you.
Foods like honey, vegetables, fruits, breads, and other foods can often be found locally. Organic whole grains and dried beans are still pretty cheap, and if you only switch to those that’s a move in the green direction.
In addition to doing the usual “recycling thing,” you can also look around and think of creative ways to recycle items around your home. For instance, use empty jars, cardboard tubes, and cereal boxes in crafts, or reuse plastic food tubs for storage (you could paint them or cover them with construction paper first).
Look at yard sales and second-hand stores for your household needs – this is not only cheaper; it also means you’re reusing (recycling) items that are already in circulation. Recycling means more than just shipping off your plastic, glass, and metal to the recycling center. It also involves reusing items to avoid buying new ones. That’s budget-friendly for just about everyone!
From saving water to reducing energy consumption via your heating and cooling system, some element of the green lifestyle is within everyone’s reach.
There are all kinds of ways to save money while going green. In fact, regardless of which is your primary goal (going green or saving money), you will find they complement each other nicely. Here are some ways that going green can save you money.
If you ever stop to add it all up, you probably spend a significant amount of money on household cleaners, from toilet bowl cleaner to sink scrubber. There are concerns that the chemicals used in many of these cleaners are unhealthy, and, in the case of bleach and other substances, potentially carcinogenic.
As you green your lifestyle, it only makes sense to stop buying and using commercial household cleaners. You can make your own natural cleaners for a fraction of the cost, thus saving money and being green.
For example, baking soda made into a paste with water makes a good sink and bathtub scrubber, and can even be used to clean an oven. Combined with borax, a little liquid soap, and peppermint essential oil, baking soda becomes a cream scrubber.
Inexpensive white vinegar and water make a good floor cleaner for hardwood. Add a little lavender essential oil to the vinegar and water and wash your windows.
Personal Care Products
Beauty products can cost a great deal of money, and some of the ingredients are dubious. In fact, substances like parabens, found in many cosmetics, have been implicated in cancer. It’s considered green to use natural personal care products, but that can be even pricier. Making your own is far less expensive and just as natural and healthy.
For a creamy, moisturizing cleanser for your face, mix 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon sweet almond oil and 1/2 teaspoon honey. To make an exfoliating cleanser, add ground, dried beans, ground nuts, or sugar.
Instead of spending a lot of money on shampoos and conditioners, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a cupful of warm water and pour that over your head as a shampoo. Apple cider vinegar (2 teaspoons per cup of warm water) makes an effective conditioner.
If you’re living a green lifestyle or are looking for ways to implement it, the food you put on your table may be something you’ve overlooked. Eco-friendly eating is not necessarily complicated, but it does involve some awareness and possible changes.
“Sustainable” food choices are those foods that are grown and harvested in environmentally responsible ways. For example, crops that are heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides are not only considered less healthy; such conventional farming methods also result in the eventual “death” of the soil and toxic run-off.
Here are some tips on how to apply the green lifestyle to what you eat.
The issue of sustainability as it applies to seafood has come to the fore lately. Fish, especially salmon, is considered a very healthy food and a good source of healthy fats and protein. However, some seafood is not considered sustainable.
Species such as orange roughy and Atlantic cod are not sustainable choices due to their endangered populations. Sources say that mussels, tilapia and sardines are, at this point, sustainable choices of seafood.
It’s worth pointing out that farm-raised fish are not necessarily the most sustainable choice; sometimes, wild-caught is better. When in doubt, look for wild-caught fish (it’s considered healthier anyhow) that’s been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
It’s probably a no-brainer to point out organic produce as the more sustainable choice – but it’s not always. For instance, if you are choosing between an organic bell pepper imported from Holland or a conventional bell pepper grown at a small farm and transported only a few miles, the latter would probably be the most sustainable choice. Less fuel was used to bring the local pepper to your market, and the pepper was probably not sprayed with preservatives or mold-inhibiting chemicals to prepare it for transport.
It’s also worth asking if the local farmer uses pesticides or other chemicals (he/she may not, even though the “organic” label is not applied to his/her produce).
Of course, if you can do it, growing your own organic produce is an eco-friendly choice.
Large-scale agribusiness and the meat industry has become a concern for eco-conscious people the world over. The problem with some beef cattle is that they are grown (or “produced”) on large feed lots that are a source of potentially toxic and unsanitary run-off, and grass-fed beef may mean large areas of forest have been cleared to make way for grazing cattle.
However, lean, grass-fed, free-range beef is considered a sustainable choice, as is free-range chicken. Again, local is better – if you know a hunter, see about getting some venison (that’s about as free-range and grass-fed as it gets!). You also might know a local farmer who might consider selling you one of his or her chickens or turkeys.
Some experts point out that simply cutting back on meat is an eco-friendly choice, too.
If you’d like to start going green, it helps to have some guidance as to where to begin. After all, people have various degrees of “green-ness” in their lives, and everyone has to begin somewhere. Here are some tips on getting started.
This basic move is a good place to start. If you’re not currently recycling – perhaps it sounds too overwhelming – you can start by contacting your local waste management/garbage collection system. There may be a program in place already, and you only have to put your recycling in a special container at the curb. Alternatively, find out if there is a recycling center nearby where you can drop off your recycling.
Give your home an energy audit. Make sure your windows and doors are insulated – use weather stripping to seal up the space between the window or door and the wall. Check your attic and make sure it’s thoroughly insulated as well.
If you haven’t done it already, change your conventional bulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), and install inexpensive timers on your lamps.
Heating and Cooling
One of the biggest energy users in the home is the heating and cooling system. If you can, install a timer on your home’s thermostat. This simple step can really save on heating and cooling bills. Another way to help preserve energy use is to keep the filter on your system clean. Change it at least every 60 days.
In the summer, try not to flip the AC on when the first warm day comes along. Use fans in open windows to draw in cool, night-time air, and then take the fans out of the windows as the day heats up. Fans, even running continually, do not use as much electricity as central air conditioning.
In the winter, take some simple steps to boost your home’s warmth. Open curtains and blinds to let warm winter sunlight into the house. Turn the thermostat down at night, use safe space heaters around the house, and close the vents in unused rooms.
Another simple step toward greening your life is to conserve water. Shorten your showers a little at a time, and if you pre-rinse your dishes before running the dishwasher, rinse the whole sink full of dishes, turn off the water, and then load the dishwasher. There are other simple water-saving tips you can implement as well, such as the installation of a rain barrel and only running the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.
Have you heard the term “going green,” but aren’t really sure what it means? It’s become such a common phrase that it’s lost its meaning to an extent. What, exactly, does it mean to “go green”? What’s the point? And how does one go green?
“Green” is a reference to nature and the environment. Trees, grass, and plants are predominantly green in color, so working to preserve those ecosystems and environments is, quite literally, protecting what is green.
Due to concerns about the destruction of the green environment, many people are looking for ways to preserve it, either by engaging in active conservation or by making an effort not to contribute to its destruction. What contributes to environmental destruction?
Practices like deforestation, chemical farming, and large-scale agribusiness are often cited as being environmentally destructive. Emissions of carbon dioxide are said to contribute to global warming, which is another environmental concern.
So “going green” means minimizing the destruction of trees, not supporting large agribusiness with the consumer’s dollar, lowering personal emissions and not contributing to increased emissions by others (such as buying food that has been transported a long way). Going green also usually involves conserving energy and taking care not to waste natural resources.
When someone takes an active role in environmental preservation, that person is said to be “going green.”
So How Can You Go Green?
For one thing, you can recycle paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal. All of these materials use energy and natural resources to manufacture (particularly paper and cardboard, which uses trees), so recycling them makes sense from a green standpoint. When possible, purchase items made from recycled materials.
You can also take care to cut back on the energy use in your own home. Turn your thermostat down at night and when you’re not home, or even better, install a thermostat timer that will do the work for you by lowering or raising the thermostat at prescribed intervals.
Energy use in the home can be further reduced by taking some simple steps. For example, upgrade to Energy Star appliances where possible; turn off lights when you leave a room; don’t run the dishwasher unless it’s full.
Try to eat local, organic produce – local, because less fuel is required to get the food from farm to table, and organic because of the possible negative environmental impact of conventional farming practices.
Resource-wasting can be reduced by conserving water and fuel. Shorten showers and minimize excessive use of water use, such as washing the car too often.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a difference – especially if a lot of people implement them! If you want to add in some small steps to make your life a little greener, here are some suggestions.
If you have a commute to work or school, see if you can combine vehicle use with a neighbor or friend. It’s not a huge step, but it’s one less car on the road that morning.
If you are looking for ways to go green and you are not recycling, this is the small step to start with. It is not a huge lifestyle adjustment to set up a couple of bins and plan regular trips to the recycling plant – or, hopefully, you can set your recycling out for the local waste management to pick up.
Turn off lights when you’re not in a room. When you can, use daylight for reading and eating, and when it’s dark use a single lamp – preferably with a CFL bulb.
Try to combine errands in one trip so you use less fuel. The carpool principle can be applied here, too.
While water is abundant on the planet, clean, safe drinking water is not. Try to conserve this precious resource with some small steps. For example:
* Do not flush liquid waste every time you use the toilet. Flush after two or three liquid waste toilet visits.
* Pre-rinse dishes in a pan or sink of water (rather than under running water), then load the dishwasher. Also, running the dishwasher only when it’s full can help save water as well.
* Wash your car as infrequently as you can, and when you do, turn the hose off while you soap up and scrub the car.
6. Heating and Cooling
Turn down your thermostat at night and when you leave the house. Even better, install a programmable timer – it’s simpler than you think and is still considered a small step. Make sure your furnace filters are changed regularly, and use fans as much as possible in the summer.
Cut back on meat where you can – since we’re talking small steps, maybe have one meatless meal a week or three meatless meals one day a week. Commercially-raised meat is said to have a negative impact on the environment, so the less you eat, the lower the demand, and the fewer animals raised for slaughter.
Make the switch to local and organic food. Maybe choose one food to start with, such as apples or carrots.
As you implement these small steps, you and many others like you can have a significant, positive impact on the environment.
Adopting a natural lifestyle is a win-win choice – both you and the planet benefit. Here is how, in part, this works.
What Is a Natural Lifestyle?
There is a certain amount of individualism with regard to what’s considered a natural lifestyle. Generally speaking, it refers to eating natural, whole foods, making eco-conscious choices, and seeking alternative medicine and health management wherever possible. Practitioners of natural lifestyles often have “green” motives and environmental concerns; others simply want to be healthier. The good news is, both goals can be accomplished in one natural lifestyle.
Eating Whole, Natural Foods
Whole, natural foods are those foods that are eaten in their natural state or as close to it as possible. Produce is the most obvious type of whole, natural food; beans, whole grains, and healthy meats and fish are also whole and natural. When you choose to consume whole foods, your health will likely benefit, because you won’t be consuming processed, chemical-laden food that’s often packed with empty calories. And the planet will benefit because you’re not supporting the use of excessive packaging and manufacturing, all of which uses natural resources and energy.
Also, when you eat whole, natural foods, you are not supporting the large fast-food chains whose often destructive environmental practices are well known. The negative effect that fast-food has on your health is also well documented. So giving it up in favor of natural foods is, once again, a benefit both to the planet and to your health.
Making Eco-Conscious Choices
As you implement a natural lifestyle, you will find yourself becoming more eco-conscious – that is, you will probably begin to consider how your daily choices affect (or might potentially affect) the health of the planet. Here’s the good news: eco-conscious decisions are probably healthier for your body, too.
When you decide, for example, to use natural flooring and furniture, your indoor air will likely be cleaner due to the lack of out-gassing from carpet glues, vinyl flooring, fabric dyes, and so forth. And the planet will be better off if you choose furniture and flooring made from eco-friendly materials such as sustainable wood and natural resin.
Part of a natural lifestyle often involves wearing clothing made from sustainable, natural materials such as organic cotton or linen. The planet benefits from this choice because it means one less person is buying chemically-treated, mass-produced clothing made from synthetic materials. You will benefit because wearing natural fibers is said to be much better for your health.