It’s easy being green, and it can be cheap, too

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

Namaste,
Jamie

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10 responses to “It’s easy being green, and it can be cheap, too

  1. Great reminders and ideas, Jamie! I have a bit of a paper towel addiction, I must admit. :/

  2. here’s a question for the good people of the world:

    i use cast iron pans. to re-oil the pans after cleaning, i use paper towels. any other way to get the job done without using a ton of oil to re-grease?

  3. Lisa was my first yoga blog friend too! Bless her. Let’s hear it for Lisa!

  4. AWWW!!! Thank you so much for the beautiful kind words!! I consider you both MY bloggy friends too!!! :) YAY

    I am so excited for you that you’ve made these changes. Cutting out plastic is SO difficult. we’re really struggling. slow but steady. I’ve just realized that my glass anchor containers aren’t working out so well- the lids (which are supposedly BPA free plastic) are cracking, which makes them terrible for liquidy stuff. plus they are HEAVY to carry to work. I am on the look out.

    I agree with you though, cutting back is the hardest part. I’ve been working on not buying the “disposable green alternative” like “biodegrable wipes” which is a load of crap anyways. sigh.

    @Emma: What ANdrew does, since we don’t have any paper towel in the house, he uses old rags and our cooking tongs. The old rag is used to wipe down the vegetable oil on his beloved cast iron pan.
    They just get thrown in the wash with the other rags. works perfectly. :)
    also- the more you use the pan, the less you should have to put oil on it. he just uses a little bit on the heated pan and wipes with the rag (via holding it with the tongs).

  5. Great post Jamie. I too have learned so much from Lisa at EcoYogini. She’s wonderful! Check out Yancy at AGreenspell too. The two of them often tag team blog topics and we all benefit!

  6. I will jump on the Lisa & Yancy bandwagon- great, inspiring resources!
    As for the dryer sheet: i haven’t tried this yet but the reviews seem decent: http://www.reusablebags.com/store/nellies-allnatural-pvcfree-dryerballs-p-1636.html
    It seems like the majority of my wash is actually yoga gear (the unfortunate thing about hot yoga is it requires a lot of washing!) so it gets hang-dried. When I DO use a dryer sheet, i rip it in half- it still does the job but a box lasts a lot longer.

  7. I like the idea of buying glass instead of plastic! Plus, glass can be reused before it’s recycled for things such as unique flower vases!

    As far as cleaning goes, I’d love to switch to natural cleaning products, but does vinegar really work as well as Scrubbing Bubbles (or any other cleaner)? What is the ratio you use for vinegar to water? What else do you use (i.e. baking soda)?

    • Jen- I use about a quarter white vinegar and three quarters water. I have a spray bottle (unfortunately plastic) with this mixture sitting out for quick wipe downs, and I use warm water for mopping/deep cleaning. It works just as well, in my opinion. Then again, I am by no means a clean freak, so maybe I’m missing something. ; ) I don’t personally use baking soda, but I’ve heard it works wonders as well. EcoYogini just posted about using it to clean her oven, so I assume if it can tackle ovens it can do anything!

  8. also, wanted to say thanks for the link to Zero Waste Home- such a cool site!!

    (and that Yancy totally Kicks BUM!!) :) as well as all of us. When I first started blogging it was kinda only me-yogini who talked about eco stuff. Now there are so many of us- I feel much more surrounded by love and ideas!

  9. Great post, Jamie! I am working on many of the same things, and I must say that all of you lovely bloggers inspire me. I’ve always considered myself an environmentalist, but I struggle just like everyone else. It’s so nice to be inspired by others to do better.

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