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Did you know that April is Earth Month? When my girls were growing up, they were both in Girl Scouts so we did a project every year to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd. We actually did projects all throughout the year but in April we specifically focused on ways to take better care of our planet and to protect our resources. Sometimes that meant picking up trash at a local park or planting flowers. One year we were part of a community event that provided information and resources to help all of our city’s residents lead greener lives.
A few years ago, I began my journey to healthier eating. I had never realized how much junk was in the foods I was eating and serving my family. As we cleaned up our diet, I began looking around at some of the other things in our life that were chemical-laden and toxic. Over time, I learned more and more about the things we use on a daily basis and started to get rid of what I could and find a better solution for my home and family. Even small changes in one home can have a ripple effect and help protect our Earth. And the good news is that it’s really easy to implement changes and live a greener life. It’s better for you AND the Earth!
7 Easy Ways to Live Green
- Go paperless. Did you know that you can cut down on the amount of junk mail you get? You can register on the National Do Not Mail list and marketers will be required to remove you from their mailing list. You can also go to the Direct Marketing Association and enter the specific companies that are sending you mail to have your name removed. As far as your personal mail, you can request that companies you have a relationship with send you mail electronically. Credit card companies, banks, and utility companies generally offer e-billing options so you no longer have to receive a paper bill. When you pay those bills, pay them with online banking rather then sending a physical check. Not only will this save paper, you’ll save money too since the price of a stamp keeps going up. I personally hate having paper sitting around cluttering up my home so I prefer going paperless. It’s so much easier to manage things electronically for me.
- Change your beauty routine. I had no idea how many chemicals were in personal care products. I guess I assumed that if they were safe for us to use they must not be too bad. The more I began researching, the more shocked I was and began making gradual changes. I’m not one of those people that is willing to make my own toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. I guess it’s easy enough to do but with a busy life, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Fortunately, when I was in Walmart the other day, I came across Tom’s of Maine products. I was intrigued by the idea of no artificial colors, flavors, fragrances or preservatives. Those aren’t things that I want to put in my body so why would I use a toothpaste that had preservatives in it? It just didn’t make sense to me. Even with deodorant, the ingredients are absorbed by your skin so I want to make sure I am using products that are natural. Now that my family has incorporated Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and deodorant into our daily lives, I’m ready to learn more about what other products are made of too!
- Eat locally and seasonally. There are so many benefits to eating locally and seasonally! If you eat locally grown food, by default you will be eating seasonally. Makes sense, right? A great way to eat locally is to visit your local farmer’s market to pick up all of your fruits and veggies. You can even get meat and eggs locally. As a result, you’ll enjoy foods that are fresher and have less impact on the environment since they haven’t been trucked all over the country. Local foods are actually safer for you to eat too since they haven’t come into contact with as many contaminants. We all want to enjoy safer food too without preservatives, contaminants or other nasties!
- Ditch the bottled water. I’ll be the first to admit that I have consumed a lot of bottled water in my lifetime. I still use it periodically but have switched instead to reusable water bottles. I keep one on my desk at work to avoid using the styrofoam cups provided. At home, I also have a reusable water bottle handy. According to BantheBottle.net, Americans consumed 50 billion water bottles last year but only recycled at a rate of about 23%. Considering that it takes about 17 million gallons of oil to produce that many bottles, or enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year, plastic water bottles have a huge impact to our environment. The energy wasted is enough to fuel 190,000 homes. Reducing the number of water bottles that you drink each year can go a long way in making the world a little greener.
- Use reusable bags and containers. Much like plastic water bottles, plastic shopping bags have a significant impact on our world. It’s estimated that Americans use 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic shopping bags each year. Sadly, the recycle rate with plastic shopping bags is only about 5%. This means that the rest end up in landfills or otherwise polluting the earth. Replacing plastic bags with reusable bags is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to reduce the number of plastic bags. Several stores even offer a discount to customers that use reusable bags. Cash back is always a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?
- Conserve water. Water seems like a very abundant resource but in many places it’s not. We can all do our part to conserve water. One way is to use only the water you need. This means turning the water off while brushing your teeth and setting appliances to the proper water setting. Make sure that you don’t have any hidden leaks like in faucets, showers, or toilets. Even a minor leak can waste a significant amount of water over time. Be sure to water your lawn during cooler times during the day and select climate-appropriate landscaping that won’t require an excessive amount of water to keep alive. And here’s a big one….if you take long showers, cut a minute or two (or even more) off your shower time. I know that warm water feels good on a cold day, but water is a precious resource that we can all help conserve!
- Try natural cleaners. Before trying natural cleaners, I was very skeptical about how well they would work. I grew up using chemical-laden, toxic cleaners. They even smelled extremely toxic! We won’t even talk about expensive they are either! After trying my own natural cleaners, I became a fan. They are super inexpensive to make and work better than store-bought cleaners. This recipe for tub and tile cleaner really works on tough shower stains! Here are a couple of my favorite green cleaner recipes:Tile and tub cleaner: Wipe surface with vinegar and follow with baking soda as a scouring agent.
All-purpose cleaner: Whisk together 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon Borax, 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide, 2 cups of hot water and juice of one lemon. Add to a squirt bottle.
How does your family live green and celebrate Earth Day? Tell me in the comments below so we can all make the world a little greener!