It Ain’t Easy Being Green
Well, maybe for you Kermit, but we’re actually not finding it too hard these days. Since moving up to “crunchy” Northern California, we have made a commitment to a “greening” up our lives and trying to reduce our carbon footprint. While I am not always the most successful at it, we are making a valiant effort so far and I find that making a few simple and easy changes in your life can have a larger impact than you would expect.
Now I admit, not all of the choices that we have made are for everyone.
I can talk about how much I love cloth diapering and how much I love my backyard chickens, but my friends have heard me talk about having to whack chickens out of trees and most of my playgroup has heard me tell a poop horror story or two. It really is about making the choices that are going to be easy and sustainable for your lifestyle and family. Don’t try anything so hard that in a week you’ve given up and you feel guilty for being such an eco-failure. Here are some easy ways that I started with.
The farm to table movement has given almost everyone access to local and sustainable food. Try a CSA (community supported agriculture) program to get a box of produce (and sometimes meat and eggs) delivered to your door once a week, or visit your local farmers market to see what’s in season. The website www.localharvest.org can tell you where your CSAs and your farmers markets are around you. You might be surprised to see how close they are!
Meatless Monday (Or Tuesday, or Wednesday… Whatever works).
If you are anything like my family, we eat our fair share of red meat. However, because of environmental reasons as well as health reasons, I have instituted at least one meat-free day a week in our household. Taking at least one day off not only reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, but it also reduces your carbon footprint. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, far more than world-wide transportation! Take a day off! Eat some pasta, or if your weather is still hot and your farmers market still has awesome vegetables like ours? Make some of my fabulous gazpacho!
Drink more water… but not out of a bottle .
We all know that drinking water is excellent for our bodies and minds, helping with weight loss, digestion, keeping our skin looking fresh and dewy… the list goes on and on. But too often people choose to grab a bottle of water from the store instead of a reusable container they can fill over and over again. Buying one of those reusable water bottles keeps millions of plastic bottles out of the landfills and will probably get you to drink more water, since all you have to do is fill up at the tap. And did you know that if you bought bottled water by the gallon it would be more expensive than gas???
Bring your bags to the grocery store.
It’s so easy to do and makes such a huge impact on the environment. I’m not going to quote the statistics on the number of trees that get cut down for paper bags (a lot) or how many of those plastic bags actually get recycled (not many), but the gist of it is, it is SO easy to bring your own bags. Most companies now are even making them cute and easy to remember, with cool colors and clips so you can just latch them onto your purse. Trust me, I usually stink at remembering to bring bags, so now I just keep them clipped to various things in my car/purse/house so I never forget them! And if you do? Don’t beat yourself up and remember to recycle that bag!
Don’t be toxic!
Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house. But I’ve stopped loving the harsh chemicals that most cleaners use to get my house spic and span. Try using cleaners with natural ingredients, like Method or Clorox Green Works, or even go hard-core and use vinegar and water. It sounds weird but it’s a super cleaner and really inexpensive. And the smell goes away when it dries, promise.
Do you really need to use that paper towel? Do you need to use paper plates and napkins instead of your dishes? All of those paper products take a toll on the environment and are pretty expensive to boot. Use your everyday plates for meals and cut up old t-shirts to use as rags. You’ll find that you spend a lot less on paper products in your budget and your husband could probably use to lose a few of those ratty old shirts from college.
These really are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to “greening” up your life, but again, pick things that you can do and don’t beat yourself up about the things that you can’t. One day in the future, when you’re making your own clothes and have a chicken coop on your patio, you’ll look back and realize how easy it was to start.
What change would you like to make, but you think it’s just too hard?
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