The problems our earth is facing can be overwhelming. To make matters worse, there are advertisers beating down our doors trying to convince us that we have to spend more money to help the environment.
Nowhere in the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” mantra does it say “buy something that costs twice as much as it should”.
There are ways to reduce consumption and help planet earth without spending more money and more time. This has become especially important to me in the past year, as I learn more and more how interconnected the world is and how seemingly small actions have unintended consequences.
I thought it would be helpful to post the things Andy and I have started doing recently. They’re easy, affordable tips that don’t even require very much effort. We have carbon footprints just like everyone else, but this is how we’ve been trying to treat the world with a little more kindness.
- Stop using disposable things. I used to use a paper towel to eat small snacks, then I realized that it only takes me about 10 seconds to wipe off one of my dinner plates, and costs me only a drop of dish soap and a tiny bit of water. Paper towels cost money and take up space in landfills. As soon as we cut down on our paper towel purchases, I immediately noticed a decrease in the number of bags of garbage we put out every week.
The worst offender of the disposable lifestyle is bottled water. Drink tap water out of a reusable bottle. Or, if you live in a place where the tap water is sanitary but kind of yucky (like we do), purchase a filter for your kitchen faucet, or a pitcher with a filter that can be re-used.
Next up on the war against disposables: dryer sheets.
- Use less plastic. Our poor Mother Earth is aching from our plastic use. Throwing plastic into the recycle bin instead of the trash bin helps significantly, but still doesn’t solve the problem. Check out this old post of EcoYogini’s about Why Recycling Doesn’t Cut It. Every time we recycle a bit of plastic, it is downgraded and less and less of it can be re-used. Not to mention all the energy that goes into creating the stuff.This is a tough one because plastic is everywhere. It’s ubiquitous as far as packaging goes, and it can be very convenient. I don’t have a solution to this, but being aware of the problem is the first step. When I have a choice between purchasing juice in a plastic bottle and a glass bottle, I choose glass. The price difference is negligible, and every little bit counts.
- Clean your cleaning products. A big part of being environmentally kind is to put fewer chemicals out there for our neighbors to breathe in. A couple of years ago I was cleaning my apartment bathroom (read: no ventilation) with my old favorite cleaning product: scrubbing bubbles. Halfway through the process I realized my throat and lungs were burning from breathing in those cheery little bubbles. Why should I clean my bathroom with something that makes my eyes water and my throat burn?We have since switched to using warm water and vinegar for cleaning. I have heard you should add essential oil, as well, to disinfect and make it smell a bit better, so I’ll try that soon. We have beautiful 110-year-old hardwood floors in our home and this cleaning solution works just as well as anything else we have tried.I used to love those Clorox wipes, which were even more convenient than paper towels. But they’re disposable, not to mention they come in bulky plastic cylinders. Using old t-shirts and dishtowels for cleaning is less expensive and less wasteful. Using a regular mop instead of a Swiffer means you don’t have to throw out a Swiffer pad every time you clean. These are affordable switches that don’t cause much more hassle, if any.
Here are some great resources if you’re interested in greening your life but need to see it in practice:
- EcoYogini, my first-ever yoga blog friend. She shares great stories about the ups and downs of trying to be more green, and presents information without judgment, which is key in this fight. We are products of a wasteful, self-centered society, and it takes hard work to reverse that.
- Zero Waste Home: a blog I just found about cutting waste out of your routine. I especially like this post where she addresses the affordability of her process.
- The Real Cost of Free Plastic Bags
- The story of bottled water
- Do Something.org