I hope that everyone lives their daily lives in an environmentally conscious way. Of course none of us are perfect, but we should all do what we can.
Simple changes, even little ones, can make a huge impact on our world. I try to adopt new habits and make small adjustments, continuing to progress slowly. Its less painful that way. We can’t all go out and be “No Impact Man“, but we can be more mindful of our decisions and the effect they have.
Last year I made the conscious effort to quit using regular toxic cleaning products and soaps (more to come on that next week). I’ve known the effect of phosphates on our water shed, but for some reason, I couldn’t let go of that fresh soapy smell. Fortunately many mainstream companies have gotten on board and it is easy to find suitable environmentally friendly products. Beware of greenwashing though. Research your products to make sure they truly are eco-friendly.
I’ve found that I love the natural scent of eucalyptus or sandalwood more than artificial “fresh linen”. I’ve also rediscovered my love of Dr. Bronner’s magic soap. I was on a lavender kick for a while but now its all about the almond scent again.
Here are a few simple, every day things you can slowly adopt:
- Add vinegar to your washer to get your gym clothes extra clean. It works better than adding extra soap or using harsh detergents or color safe bleaches. Use less soap in general. Most of use twice as much of these highly concentrated detergents than we really need. Old habits die hard.
- Wash and rinse your clothes in cold water. Hot water isn’t necessary. The heat of the dryer will kill anything remaining on your clothes.
- Turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth.
- Turn lights off as you leave the room. Use Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs. They are more expensive but can save a lot in electricity costs over their lifetime. Plus they use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer.
- DO NOT THROW AWAY ELECTRONICS AND BATTERIES! Please e-cycle old items. Most communities have drop off areas or special collection days. Best Buy will e-cycle your old home electronics. Batteries can be brought to the camera counter of any Walgreens for recycling.
- Pee in the shower. Seriously. It saves toilet paper and water. Brazil even had a campaign to save water/toilet flushing, by peeing in the shower or showering with a friend…but just not both at the same time 🙂 (click here for a giggle) This suggestion is only for the occasions that you are actually planning to take a shower…don’t just randomly use your bath tub as a toilet!
- Don’t flush anything down the toilet except what is supposed to go down. Avoid throwing tissues, cotton swabs, tampons, wrappers, condoms, etc down the drain. They just have to be fished back out. More chemicals will also need to be added to clean the water with these products mixed in. Just put them in the garbage where they belong and take it out more often.
- Recycle the cardboard from your toilet paper roll (you know you just toss it in the regular bathroom garbage…) This assumes that you are already recycling, right? Right!
- Have your name and address removed from mailing lists. Call the phone book company and ask them to not deliver the yellow pages to your home if you aren’t using them.
- Use cloth napkins. Pack them in your lunch. Keep one at work. Use it a couple of times before you wash it. I go to Pier 1 or Cost Plus and buy single napkins in different pretty designs. They usually have clearance items for $1. We use different colors so we know which one is ours and leave them out on the table until they need washed.
- Carry reusable bags and USE THEM. Avoid plastic bags altogether. Try to get in the habit of using them at clothing stores, drugstores, and convenience stores, not just the grocery store. My favorites are Envirosax and Bag The Habit. I like these small compact bags because I can leave them in my purse, coat pocket, or glove box. Less expensive single bags are available pretty much everywhere you shop.
- Don’t buy bottled water. Carry a stainless steel bottle with you and refill it. If you like sparkling water, buy a Soda Stream and make your own!
- Compost your vegetable waste or start a worm bin. The rich fertile soil you get in return is a reward in itself!
- Turn off lights and unplug vampire appliances and chargers when not in use.
- Reduce your meat consumption. Practice Meatless Mondays!
- Support your local farmers. Shop at the Farmer’s Market. Subscribe to a CSA.
What little (or big) things do you do? Please share!
Just by adopting a few of these easy habits, you can make a difference in the future of our world. Practice random acts of kindness to the Earth. Whether its good karma that comes back to you, clean water from your tap, or just the knowledge of knowing you helped to do your part, its all worth it!
Happy Earth Day!