Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Green and Easy

Sometimes being green (environmentally conscious, practicing sustainable living) is hard. Really, I admit this. If it was totally a cakewalk we wouldn't be so messed up.

However....

There are some things that are really, really easy. They don't cost extra, they're not inconvenient. You don't have to change your whole life to live this way...you just need to grab this, and not that.

Some examples:
- Choose glass over plastic. The honey or maple syrup in the glass bottle instead of the plastic one, for example.

- Buy powdered laundry and dishwasher detergent instead of liquid. I don't know if the chemical content is any different, but the packaging is. The cardboard box takes fewer, and less toxic, resources to make, and is less toxic to the planet. (Of course, I also suggest eco-friendly brands like Method or Ecover or Trader Joe's Next to Godliness or Seventh Generation, but I admit they are often more expensive.)

- Use bar soap instead of liquid. Liquid soap comes in plastic containers that get thrown out; bar soap comes in a little paper wrapper. Plus, bar soap is cheaper.

- Use CFL lightbulbs instead of regular. (You've heard this before. It's still true.)

- Stop. Buying. Bottled. Water. Really. Right now. Just decide to stop.

- Bring your own coffee cup. This will save you a few cents per cup as most shops give you a discount, but even better it saves some more junk from going in a landfill. If you forget your cup and need one, try a "for here" in a ceramic cup. If you have to go, try it without a (plastic) lid, as the cup itself decomposes much better than the lid.

- Give up straws. More plastic. You don't drink out of straws at home, do you? No need to do so when you're out.

- Use rags instead of paper towels. Don't have any rags? Well, look in your bottom drawer; the one with the t-shirts you never wear. See that one with a small stain that you'll never wear again? Voila - four rags.

- Use a real mop and real broom instead of disposable substitutes.

- Choose snacks with little packaging. A piece of cheese instead of string cheese. A handful of nuts from a bigger container. Fruit. If it comes wrapped in fancy plastic it's probably not good for you anyway.

- Use half the amount of shampoo and/or conditioner that you usually use. Shockingly (to me), it didn't make one bit of difference on my hair. This means less overall consumption, and only half the wasted bottles in landfills.

- Vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. My sink has never been shinier.

- Read the newspaper online - no waste. (And no cost.)

- The library. Only buy those books you want to reference, read again, or share with friends.

- Stop using paper napkins. Cloth ones are easy, often go on sale.

- Shop your local thrift stores when you need household items like platters, picture frames, pots and pans, etc. (I love to find old china teacups for a bargain, too.) Bargains, they often support a cause (in West Seattle one supports the ACS and the other supports the senior center), and they prevent things from going into landfills. Even more importantly, they prevent items from being produced with more packaging and waste.

- Carry your own bag with you. Chico Bags is Ryan's favorite (solid colors), mine is Envirosax (cute patterns). My Envirosax bag has been used daily for at least 6-9 months and still looks great. But my guess is that you have a bag at home you could use without going out and buying one.

Not one of these things is difficult, time consuming, or expensive. Not one. And you don't have to adopt all of these changes to make a difference - just pick one or two if the whole list is overwhelming to you.

Little changes add up. None of these items, individually, makes a huge difference. But they add up, and as more and more people start to follow these no-nonsense ways to go green, it WILL make a difference.

And then you can join me in making your own granola and bread, learning about compost, canning tomatoes, and walking everywhere possible..... But I'll wait for you if you're not ready!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions! Thanks for sharing. Kelbie

Sue said...

These are really great reminders, Kristina. I'm doing a great deal of these now, and since they originally seemed overwhelming, I picked one small thing at a time that I could do. I cannot tell you the last time I took a bag from a store (I always carry my own or go without). I take my Sigg water bottle everywhere. I'm slowly switching over to glass instead of plastic (it's hard for this former Tupperware saleswoman to get rid of her "perfectly good" stuff, but I'm working on it).

One thing I keep meaning to mention to you is my recent discovery of Soap Nuts for laundry. I am allergic to so many chemicals and things in detergents (even many of the natural ones), so I decided to try the Soap Nuts even though I was very skeptical. I was blown away by how well they cleaned my laundry, and I'm talking about Phil's hockey officiating laundry too - if it cleans that, it'll clean anything! They claim you can use it in the dishwasher too (haven't been brave enough to try it, but will soon). The tradeoff is that even though they're natural, they are imported and you're paying for that process and delivery to your home via mail. But that was a tradeoff I was willing to do since it's saving me money, allowed me to stop using fabric softener too (saving more money). The ones I'm using are from NaturOli (which I got through Amazon.com): http://tinyurl.com/asufuj

Kristina, I have a sample of the soapnuts (in an extra washbag) for you to try if you're interested. I keep meaning to bring it to church and forget.