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How to Live Green
The average person can't go "totally green" without an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and upfront money. In fact, even trying to do so would just be way too overwhelming and would, at least for me, be paralyzing and too discouraging to do anything at all.
All you need to do to reduce your impact on the environment is to follow that cutesie little mantra they taught in elementary school: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Just doing these things regularly will make you feel like you are making a difference... because you are!!
Do you still get your bills and credit card statements in the mail? You can instantly reduce a lot of your paper consumption by signing up for paperless statements from your bank, gas and electric supplier, etc. It's easier to monitor these things online anyway, don't you think? Some banks even reward you for choosing paperless statements, since it saves them a lot of money, too!
Is there public transportation in your town? On nice days, do you drive just a few blocks when you could ride your bike or walk? (This means you, residents of Los Angeles!) Don't worry about totally eliminating your car altogether, but try to replace unnecessary trips or to carpool if you and your friend are going to the same place.
Don't do a load of laundry or turn on the dishwasher unless the machine is full. If you don't have a dishwasher, don't just let the water run over the dishes when you wash them; instead, fill a small tub (or just plug the sink) with soap and water and then only use that amount for the dirty dishes at that time. Running laundry on cold instead of hot saves a lot of energy and therefore money, even if you do it only most of the time (saving "hot" for when you've gotten your clothes covered in mud or something).
You can reduce the amount of chemicals you're putting into the water supply by using "green" cleaning products like Seventh Generation. They use cleaning materials that degrade when they're dumped into the sewage system and that won't poison wildlife once they're released into the ocean. It's also safer to use around babies and pets!
If you're like me, you drink a lot of coffee, which adds up to a lot of coffee cups. Instead, why not throw a lightweight mug or thermos into your bag in the morning and have them fill it up for you? Doesn't sound like much, but think about the volume of trash that eliminates in just a month!
In this day and age, we buy a lot of our things online. Books, toys, movies, even groceries come straight to our door. So why not reuse the boxes that all that stuff comes in? Don't you always need extra boxes for storage and organization? Or why not save one of the smaller boxes in case you need to ship something?
And, if you can't reduce or reuse, recycle the rest. Put a second can next to the trash can in your kitchen (doesn't have to be blue), and one of those boxes we were talking reusing about can serve as paper recycling.
If you're in a restaurant who doesn't have a recycling bin and finish your soda, why not throw the bottle into your bag and take it home to recycle? It doesn't take that much more effort, and that's one less thing sitting in a landfill that we could be using.
If your workplace doesn't recycle, suggest that they do. It's not that much harder, and offices put out an enormous amount of paper waste.
The Bottom Line
Living a greener life is not just a fad (though that's part of it). It is a way to feel good about your impact on the world around you and to live in a more balanced way.
But you don't have to totally remodel your life to make a big change in the way you are affecting the environment. A little can go a long way.
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