Living a more eco-friendly life isn't difficult as it once was. Start small by adopting one change at a time, and before you know it, you'll be looking for more ways to "live greener." Here are six ideas to get you started:
- Make your own: Instead of buying all your products ready-made, consider making some of your own. By making your own, you can cut out additives that are harmful to your body and to the earth. Even laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid can be made at home, using pure ingredients like olive oil-based soap, washing soda and borax. Homemade cleaners made from baking soda or vinegar are earth-friendly alternatives that prevent toxic chemicals from entering the air or the groundwater.
- Grow your own: By growing your own vegetables and herbs, you can use intensive techniques that eliminate the need for pesticides and herbicides. Add natural fertilizers like composted horse manure or start a worm bin and use the castings to feed your plants.
- Ditch your lawn: Lawns waste a tremendous amount of water and require pesticides, fungicides and herbicides to stay green and healthy. Instead, devote the space to more vegetables and herbs, plant a few berry bushes, or carpet the area in natives that are adapted to thrive in your climate. Use your old grass and sod to start a compost pile to nourish your new plants.
- Shop used: Millions of pounds of perfectly usable products wind up in landfills every year. You can make a difference by committing to buying in the secondhand market. Craigslist, Ebay and Freecycle are all great choices for finding used goods online, but don't overlook thrift stores which can be treasure troves of amazing values. For the best values, avoid the major chains and look for independent thrift stores, many of which also benefit charities so your purchase is good for the planet and for your soul.
- Cut down on disposables and packaging: Replace paper napkins with cloth and paper towels with rags. Make or buy shopping bags so you don't need to use disposables from the store. Ditch the disposable razor and buy one that uses disposable blades instead. Look for other places in your life where you can swap a more permanent, less wasteful solution for one that's entirely disposable. And when grocery shopping, opt for products with less packaging or make your own and reuse containers over and over again.
- Cut down on your energy use: Go through your house and look at all the appliances you use every day, then think of ways to cut down on that use: Hang your clothes instead of using the dryer. Turn your thermostat down at night and when you're out of the house. Turn off air conditioners and use ceiling fans as needed. Unplug appliances that aren't being used to eliminate energy drains.
Every day, there are opportunities to make a difference and lead a greener lifestyle. Challenge yourself to find new ways and keep track of your impact to stay motivated, and before you know it, you'll be making a real difference in your corner of the world.