Each April, people around the world mark Earth Day and look at ways to help the planet. If you’re looking for new ideas, here are 10 hacks for a green lifestyle for you to try!
Remember, when choosing to live green, it’s all about small steps and little choices vs. getting caught up in doing everything perfectly. In the words of zero waste advocate, author, and chef Anne Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Just as a small rudder steers a large ship, the small adjustments that you make in your life can have a huge impact on the planet’s destination!
- Buy green, but ultimately buy less
Switching to reusable metal straws and opting for organic cotton jeans are sustainable buying choices, but buying more eco-friendly products ultimately isn’t going to reverse the course of ecological degradation. While it certainly helps to buy sustainable or organic products, consider how vital the purchase is before making it. Recycling is great but reducing how much we buy and reusing what we already have is even better!
- Reverse meal plan
Look at your fridge and pantry as your very own mini supermarket and make a list of the things you already have on hand. Then get creative and center your meals around these items before heading out to do your weekly shopping. An important part of green living is reducing waste and unnecessary purchases. Many of us probably have at least a meal’s worth of delicious ingredients at home that we’ve forgotten about. Use everything you can before heading back to the store.
- Focus on experiences rather than things
Who doesn’t enjoy a gift or a new purchase? For many of us, small things that give us joy or make life easier are a source of pleasure. But an overly consumerist lifestyle is harmful to the planet and may deprive us of free time and financial stability. When you find yourself daydreaming about shopping, or a new thing you’d like to order online, challenge yourself to do something else instead. Call a loved one to say hi, or take a bike out for a ride. If you have access to a library, check out a new book to read. Springtime is still on its way, so make a list now of pleasant outdoor activities you can do by yourself and with friends that don’t involve buying things.
- Support local farmers
You can support local farmers through buying a share in a CSA, shopping the co-op’s wide variety of local items in all of our departments, and visiting your local farmer’s market. Not only does this keep food dollars in the local economy, it also reduces the use of fossil fuels as those fruits, veggies, and meat don’t have to travel across the country to your plate, helping the planet and guaranteeing the item’s freshness and flavor. You may also get to meet the amazing folks that grow your food — an invaluable experience!
- Buy clean beauty products
Using clean beauty products not only protects your skin and health, but is also better for the planet, keeping harsh chemicals out of the water, soil, and air. If you’re unsure about the products you use, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a database of over 70,000 beauty products with a rating system of each and descriptions of individual ingredients. Check out EWG’s Skin Deep guide and view your products’ ratings. For more information on our standards at Lakewinds, visit wellness page.
- Run it on cold
Did you know that using cold water in your washing machine reduces energy use by about 75%? Using less energy to heat the water is better for the planet, saves you money, and extends the life of your clothes to boot! Going cold is an easy way to make a big difference.
- Replace single-use disposables with easy swaps
One simple way to cut down on waste is to swap out single-use disposables for sustainable alternatives. Think washable cotton rounds or wash cloths in place of makeup wipes; old tee shirts as cleaning cloths and rags; microfiber towels in place of paper towels; and reusable coffee cups and water bottles in place of plastic or takeaway ones. Single-use waste, even when properly recycled, is an incredible burden on our planet. Making this change can be one of the biggest single things you do for the environment.
- Go paperless
Skip receipts if you don’t absolutely need them, or ask for them to be emailed. If you notice more catalogs and ads arriving in your mail, get off mailing lists to save paper and trees. Contact retailers directly and ask to be removed. For a $2 fee, you can register with the Direct Marketing Association to reduce the junk mail you receive. Sign up for e-statements and e-bills when possible to save paper. Consider a digital newspaper subscription instead of print. You’ll help cut back on fuel emissions as well if that paper isn’t being delivered.
- Put it in on airplane mode
Did you know that charging your phone while it’s in airplane mode speeds up how fast it charges as well as saves energy? Try this energy- and time-saving trick the next time your battery is in the red! This works with Wi-Fi and wireless-enabled gadgets as well, so use it with your e-reader, tablet, and laptop.
- Unplug when you’re away
An easy way to save energy (and money) is to unplug items when not in use. This minimizes “phantom energy” use which can quickly add up over time. Think anything that is more of a single-use energy item, such as your electric kettle, computer, electric blanket, fan, phone, lamps, and any sort of charger. Start unplugging and start saving!
Ease into the eco-conscious lifestyle gently. Remember the quote above; it’s better for many of us to do a little, than for a few of us to do a lot. Make small, intentional choices so you’re more likely to stick with it and won’t feel as overwhelmed. These tips are meant to be your starting line, and each new step you take is a new goal met. Congratulate yourself along the way! You’re not taking the easy way out. Celebrate building up good habits as they become the norm in your household. Always remember, you’re shooting to do things better, not perfectly.