10 easy ways to go green

Green Living

Going green is all the rage these days, and it makes sense. Aside from the highly politicized issues of global warming, living a greener lifestyle has some very practical benefits. By going green you can reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, eat healthier foods, live a more active and healthy lifestyle, and even save money.

Here are 10 easy ways you can live greener

1. Turn off lights you are not using (and use only the lights you need). I remember when I was growing up my parents always fussing about “every light in the house being on.” Back then the concern wasn’t the environment, it was the high cost of energy. Not much has changed since the 70’s, expect energy is even more expensive now than it was back then. By turning lights off, and only using lights that you actually need, you not only do good for the environment, you save a ton of money.

2. Cut down on the AC, heating, etc. Like lighting, we Americans tend to be obsessive about air conditioning and heating. Fact: you will live, and even learn to live comfortably, in 65 – 75 degree (F) temperature. In the summer, try not to create an ice box in your home… it really does not need to be 68 degrees inside at all times. And sweaters are made for the winter. This may sound harsh, but if you keep your thermostat set at around 75 in the summer and 65 in the winter, you will find that your body will adapt, and you will be very comfortable. And while you’re at it, turn off that computer and TV when you are not using it! Again, energy is expensive, and there is actually a shortage (which is why its expensive).

3. Walk, or ride a bike. Now, I have to admit, I love to drive. However, my British wife is pretty insistent that driving a block to buy a soda is, frankly, wasteful and stupid. And she is right. Feet were made for walking and peddling. Save gas, get healthy, and help out the environment and drive only when you need to.

4. Drink tap water. All those plastic bottles not only eventually end up in a land fill, or worse, in the ocean… and they don’t break down very quickly at all. And guess what; the $1.25 water you are drinking from that bottle is probably distilled (if you are lucky) tap water, anyway. Even if you only have 1 bottle of water each day, you could save over $35/month by simply turning on the tap. If you are really concerned about filtering, there are cheap alternatives that don’t result in that plastic bottle spending thousands of years in the ocean or land fill.

5. Plant a garden. One of the best things we have done is plant a small vegetable garden on the back yard. You don’t need acres to eat better, healthier vegetables. Our garden is basically two, 8ftx4ft plots, and there is plenty of food for the family. Even if you don’t have a back yard at all you can still plant a lot in pots. In fact, we plant some of our vegetables and herbs in pots so we can have them year round. Its cheap, its sustainable, its healthy, and its fun!

6. Compost and recycle. This is the easiest, and most neglected, way of going green in America. Most communities actually have a recycling program these days, and will even provide a recycling bin, and come and pick it up for you. It is a no brainer, and it helps the environment tremendously. Composting requires a little more effort, but not much. And if you plant that garden we just talked about, or if you have any kind of garden (flowers, lawn, etc.) it is a real benefit.

7. Go paper. Most grocery stores these days have paper bags. By packing your groceries in paper vs. plastic you are reducing the amount of plastic that is hanging around in landfills and in the ocean. Remember, plastic is not biodegradable, and will stick around for thousands of years… paper breaks down much more quickly. You are only going to use that bag for a few minutes, anyway. Be kind to the environment.

8. (If you have small children) use cloth diapers. The cloth diapers of today are not your grandmother’s cloth diapers. They are pre-fitted, and even snap on. Now I admit when my wife insisted on cloth I had visions of massive grossness. I was wrong. In fact, I find the cloth to be far less gross because the nastiness doesn’t hang around in the diaper genie for days until it gets thrown away. And, the chemicals and materials used in disposable diapers aren’t the best for the baby or the environment. Scarlet hates wearing anything but cloth, and we hate putting anything else on her. We save loads of money, have a happier and healthier baby (she has not had a single rash in 14 months… not one), and we aren’t dumping thousands of diapers each year into landfills.

9. Get rid of the chemicals. Believe it or not, you don’t need Clorox to be germ free. We made an amazing discovery about cleaning products about a year ago. Vinegar, baking soda, and lemons are really all you need to keep a sparkly clean and germ free house. I was skeptical at first, envisioning all kinds of nastiness, when we got rid of the commercial cleaners. But I don’t miss them at all, now. Again, we save a load of money, and we aren’t dumping toxic waste into the water table every time we clean.

10. Be proactive. These are just a handful of very easy and practical ways to go green. There is an absolute ton of information out there to learn more ways to live a more sustainable, healthy, and happier lifestyle. Check it out. You can save a ton of money, and do some good for your health and the environment at the same time.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Vern Turner August 13, 2010, 7:45 am

    I live in central Texas where daytime temperatures regularly top 100 degrees F. I set my thermostat at 79-80 degrees and am perfectly comfortable. In fact, it feels like entereing an ice box when coming indoors from the hot sun.

    We have relatively mild winters here, but occasionally we have cold days and nights. We are also fortunate to live in oak woodlands where there are many dead trees and tree parts. By burning this wood in our efficient fireplace we almost never have to use the heating unit.

    Finally, we watch for daily temperatures such that we manage our indoor environment by window. When cool, we open windows. When warm, we close them. Having a rock exterior and good insulation is a pretty good way to manage the interior down here.

    • Chris August 13, 2010, 9:28 am

      HI Vern,

      It is indeed hot in the Hill Country. Its also one of those places where the city government doesn’t make it real easy to recycle…

      But, you seem to have a pretty good strategy for dealing with the temps!

      Chris

  • steve85 August 13, 2010, 8:37 am

    The whole green agenda is absurd. I urge all of you to do research before buying products blindly, or buying simply because it says it’s green. http://generationnerd.weltbranding.com/ Don’t be this person at gen nerd!

    • Chris August 13, 2010, 9:27 am

      Hi Steve, and thanks for commenting. Although I disagree that the whole green agenda is absurd, I will agree that many products with “Green” labels are simply repackaged versions of harmful products seeking to take advantage of increasing awareness that our current trajectories are not sustainable.
      But we can agree to disagree… I still respect your opinion!

      Chris

  • jonathanfigaro August 13, 2010, 4:32 pm

    This is why i recycle. Recycling saves the planet. This is our home and this is where we need to start. In our won back yard. So as long as we reduce the amount of products we use and start to recycle. We can see the world to be much more healthier. Because right now, the world is one obese unhealthy bitch..if you know what i mean. Too much pollution, too much ignorance on what we are doing. Oil spills are enough, and we need to help each other. But it starts with taking one step at a time. As MLK said ” Life is a stair case. You dont have to see the whole thing. Just take a step in the direction you desire.” ( i paraphrased this)

    • Chris August 14, 2010, 9:47 am

      Nicely stated Jonathan. At some point we must place life over profits. The myths that living green is too expensive or too inconvenient, or even anti-progressive, are nonsensical. Its easy, its economical, and it makes sense. The green revolution may not only save our environment, but will also spawn a new technological revolution.