- Politics and Social Issues
How to live green, choices to help the environment
What can you do to live green? What can you do to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint? There are so many choices and options available that the average person can do. These things don't have to cost a fortune and are easy to incorporate into daily living.
Some of the most basic things you can do to live green involve using less. Turn your lights off and use natural light to use less electricity, turn your heat down to use less gas or oil, combine your errands so that you use less gasoline, cook multiple items at the same time so that you turn your oven on only once a day instead of four times, and turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Many people worry that living green will cost you money; however all of the above ideas will actually save you money.
Another way to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint is to reuse items. There are two ways to reuse items. Reusing them for their original purpose, such as ziploc bags, tinfoil, plastic utensils, etc and finding new uses for things you already own. By doing this you are not consuming any more of the world's precious resources. If you can't reuse something of your own, purchasing something secondhand instead of brand new is another way to reduce your consumption of resources.
Recycling is a great way to reuse items. Many cities offer free recycling, all you need to do is start taking advantage of it. If recycling is not offered curbside there are other options. I know many organizations, such as churches, raise money by collecting paper products. You will notice these bins in many parking lots. They typically take newspaper and magazines, and sometimes boxes. This is a great way to help the organization raise some money, while recycling your papers instead of throwing them away. Do you use a lot of aluminum cans? You can make a little money by taking these to a can depositor. Check your phone book to see if there is a place near you.
There are also some options that will cost you a little bit of money - at least upfront. My grocery store sells cloth grocery bags for $.99 each. Yes I had to buy them to avoid using all those plastic bags the grocery store loves to give out, however I also get a nickel back for each bag of my own I bring in. Slowly I will make my money back from this investment and I am helping the environment in the process.
Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs will cost you upfront as well. I purchase these in bulk from Sams Club, eight of them for $11.97. My estimate is that I spent about $6 more to purchase these bulbs that use so much less energy and last so much longer. It won't take much time for me to make my money back in energy savings. And it is better for the environment than incandescent bulbs.
Another huge thing a parent can do to live green is to use cloth diapers as opposed to disposables. Disposable diapers take up an enormous amount of this countries landfills, don't break down easily, cost a lot of money, put chemicals directly on the bottoms of our children, and in many cases delay potty training. Yes it is a chunk of change in the beginning, but a couple of hundred dollars spent upfront will save you thousands in the long run, especially if you use them on more than one child.
Other easy things a person can do to live green include carpooling to work or the store, using the Diva Cup or Keeper instead of disposable sanitary products, bringing your own mug to coffee places instead of using their disposable cups, turning up the thermostat in the summer to reduce electricity usage of your AC, putting a sweater on instead of turning up the heat, borrowing books and magazines from the library instead of purchasing new (it takes 15-20 trees to make the paper for a new average sized adult book), using cloth napkins instead of paper, using rags instead of paper towels, cooking from scratch (uses less packaging than convenience foods), and getting your ink cartridges refilled instead of buying new.
Purchasing as much as you can from local resources will help reduce fuel consumption and pollution. Why not eat the oranges from Florida instead of the bananas from another country? Better yet, purchase food items that are grown within the same state or county as you to really reduce fuel consumption. An added benefit of purchasing locally is that you are supporting people in your own community, state and country, as opposed to people halfway around the world. This could cost you a little more money depending on what is in season; however it doesn't automatically cost more to eat locally. In the summer and fall especially this should reduce your grocery bill.
Composting and growing your own food are also ways to help the environment and live green. Doing things yourself instead of hiring a third party helps the environment as well. When you hire someone else to do something there is fuel use involved in transporting the person to you or transporting you to the person. Cutting your own hair or at least your kids saves a trip to the barber as well as saves you money and time.
On the high end of living green you could always install solar panels on your home, invest in wind energy, or purchase a hybrid car. These cost a good bit of money, but if money isn't an object and you really want to help the environment these are great ways to do it.
Living green does not have to be hard and it does not have to cost money. I find it very easy to do most of these things. Start small if you need to, but try to incorporate these things, and more, into your daily life. It takes some thinking about it in the beginning, but in time you won't even notice. By living green you will be helping the environment as well as saving money.