Photo by WhitA
If you are anything like me, playing catch-up is almost a way of life. And while we both have the best intentions of creating a greener planet and saving it for our kids, we are often way too consumed by these very kids! So when I started consciously making a greener effort, I discovered that unless my actions were quick and easy, I wouldn’t go very far.
Here are some quick tips that worked really well for me. They can make a BIG difference to the planet, and usually, they help my pocket as well.
1. Convert your toilets to low-flush – use a jug of water.
Put a jug filled with water in your toilet tank (details HERE). Every flush will then save you the quantity of water contained in the jug. Over a month, a family of five could save up to 350 gallons of water by saving half a gallon of water for every flush! Other tips that work well, especially if you are a small family with little kids – stop flushing at night, or do a “batch-use-single-flush” concept. Some of these ideas feel weird in the beginning, but you’ll soon love saving all that water.
2. Save water while you shower – use a timer.
Turn on a timer and make sure you shower for just five minutes every single day. If you’re like me, your shower is your place for relaxation, thinking and idea generation. With that approach, it’s easy to forget how long we’ve been in the shower. A shower head uses up anywhere from five to ten gallons of water per minute. By cutting your shower down by five minutes, you’ll save over almost 50 gallons of water every day.
3. Clean friendly – use vinegar.
Fill a spray bottle with water and vinegar, and use it to clean practically anything in your home. This is one of the easiest ways to go green right here and now. And with all the controversy surrounding cleaners and antibacterials these days, this is a worry -free way to clean up. This is especially valuable in homes with little kids and animals.
4. Clean friendly – use cloth. Leave that roll of paper alone.
If you are not using anti-static or microfiber cloth for cleaning in your home, you are missing out on what I call a miracle cleaner! The microfiber technology picks tough dirt and even clean glass without streaking. We use it dry or wet, on counters, stove-tops as well as mirrors. It is amazing HOW much paper we save in the process.
Paper rolls cost money, they’re not reusable, and they add to the volume (read: guilt) in my trash bags. Cloth is easy, it works for everything, and it simply goes into the washing machine. I actually bought mine at a dollar store (three per pack) years back.
5. Make recycling easier – move that recycle bin a little closer.
Recycling should not be too hard – if it is, do something to make it easier. I am often alone with my two little kids at home. The recycling bin in the garage was just too far to get to, if it meant leaving two kids unsupervised behind me. Recycling was hard, and as a result, I wasn’t doing it often. One day, I put a brown paper bag in one corner of my kitchen. It has stayed there since, and my recycling is a breeze.
6. Pre-cycle whenever possible – go paperless.
Do you still get paper bills from your telephone company? Go online and sign up for paperless accounting today and save those trees. In the meantime, you’ll save yourself the trouble of shredding or recycling the bills later.
Photo by Dave or Atox
7. Save some energy – replace your normal bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
Compact fluorescent bulbs use about 25 percent the energy of normal incandescent light bulbs, and can last up to 10 times as long as standard bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs also produce much less heat. What I like most about these lamps is the fact that they produce “day-light,” and that does wonders to the energy at home on cloudy days.
8. Live naturally – consume less medicines.
Did you know that a number of medicines we consume goes into waste water that is processed for use by us once again? The scary part is that most waste water systems are not capable of cleaning up a lot of these drugs from the water. So try to avoid taking medicines as your first response to any minor health issues you might experience. Try natural remedies such as ginger, honey and turmeric for coughs and colds. Use natural oils for your dry hair and body, and reduce the use of strong soaps and lotions as much as possible.
9. Make being green fun – wrap gifts in style.
Stop buying wrapping paper, and save a small stack of interesting newspaper instead. Newspaper used as wrapping paper can make for some really cool looking gifts!
10. Borrow cultural practices.
We are fortunate to be in a world that has so much variety – don’t forget to learn and adopt some green practices from other cultures. I used milk on my children instead of soap when they were newborns – I learned that from a friend’s mom who said that they had been doing that for generations. I didn’t have to worry about the soaps, the perfumes or sensitivities. I recommend it to everyone with a newborn!
If you want to live a more earth-friendly life and you don’t know where you start, try some of these ideas. Being green should be a way of life – and we will never adopt a way of life if it is just too much effort. Find little things that work for you, and then build on them.
What tricks have you used to slowly nudge yourself toward being more earth-friendly?