Change. It’s hard. But it’s becoming evident that for the sake of our environment, for the sake of our children, we need to change the way we do things. Here, to get you started are some easy actions you can take. But don’t stop there. Share your efforts with your kids so they grow up with an understanding of how and why we need to be more aware of our actions.
1. Turn up the temperature on your refrigerator, just a touch.
2. In the wintertime, put firebricks in the oven to hold heat and keep the room warm.
3. Switch to glass storage containers instead of plastic.
4. Get rid of your Teflon-coated pots and pans.
5. Use a dishcloth instead of a sponge. It’s reusable.
6. Bring less packaging into your home. Be sure to recycle those that you can’t reuse.
7. Compost your food waste.
8. Stop using paper napkins and paper towels.
9. Stop buying fruits and vegetables that have been imported from another country, for so many reasons.
10. Buy real food. If you can’t trace its origin, it shouldn’t go into your body (ahem, IMHO) and it’s surely not doing our environment any good.
11. Quit relying on takeout food. If you succumb, find a restaurant that uses compostable packaging and say no to plastic straws.
12. Learn to cook some really simple, really fast meals so you won’t be tempted by fast food.
13. Find a local butcher that uses butcher paper instead of buying your meat cuts on Styrofoam.
14. Make your own salad dressing, mustard and other condiments. It’s not that hard.
15. Cook double batches. Eat one lasagna tonight, freeze one for the crazy busy day that’s tempting you to turn to fast food.
16. Find a source for local meat and eggs.
17. Nix the chemical cleaners. Instead try baking soda, vinegar or citrus-based cleaners.
18. Take shorter showers. Less hot water used, less energy used.
19. Switch to less chemically laden soaps and shampoos, or try your hand at making your own.
20. Still using disposable razors? (Stores are still stocking them; somebody must be using them!) Switch to one with a replaceable blade.
21. Use your bath towel more than once.
22. Try a fabric shower curtain instead of a plastic one.
Home Office or at the Office
23. Switch to padded envelopes that don’t have a plastic bubble liner.
24. Stop junk mail before it gets to your house. Visit the Direct Marketing Association or Catalog Choice online where you can register for free and then opt out of receiving certain mailings.
25. Consider online banking. You’ll eliminate the envelope as well as the use of much fuel to get your payment where it needs to go.
26. Opt to receive your monthly statements via email. Again, you’ll eliminate paper waste as well as fuel usage.
27. Use public transportation. Not an option? Find someone to carpool with.
28. Transform the water cooler at work: request paper rather than plastic cups. Better yet, encourage fellow employees to bring a cup from home.
29. Refill your ink cartridges instead of buying a new one when you’re out.
30. Not using your computer? Turn it off or put it to sleep.
31. Shred your documents and add them to your compost.
32. Wash only full loads of clothes.
33. Switch to a more eco-friendly laundry detergent. Or make your own.
34. Get clothes out of the dryer as soon as they’re dry, so you’re not tempted to “give them a little fluff.”
35. Better yet, set up a clothesline and hang your clothes to dry some of the time.
36. Install a timer on your hot water heater and wrap it in an insulating blanket.
The Rest of the House
37. Find out where your power comes from. Is it generated by diesel? Coal? Wind? Knowing that your energy usage is tied directly to environmentally-unfriendly sources might make it easier to cut your energy use (good for the planet and your bank account).
38. Say no to products that come in plastic clamshells.
39. Keep a blanket on the sofa.
40. Turn down the thermostat on your heater, just a touch (with that blanket, you won’t notice).
41. Next time you need to buy linens and blankets, skip the man-made materials.
42. Turn off the TV if you’re not watching it.
43. Install window blinds to help keep the house cool in the summertime and warm in winter.
44. Shop second-hand.
45. If you have an arbor, plant a deciduous vine that will shade you in the summertime and allow sunlight and warmth in during the cold winter.
46. Grow your own food. If you’ve never done so, start small. Plant radishes. Or lettuce.
47. If you’re a garden veteran, consider sharing your knowledge with amateurs.
48. Plant an extra row for the food bank.
49. Collect some of your rainwater and use it to water the garden during dry spells.
50. Stop using chemicals on your lawn.
51. If you regularly forget to turn off your porch or garage light, set it up on a timer.
52. Deal with pests and weeds without chemicals.
53. Mulch. It will help hold moisture in and means less water used. It will also help keep the weeds in check.
54. Stop accepting the bags that stores offer (plastic or paper) and bring your own.
55. Switch from plastic to glass bottles when buying goods at the grocery store. If it’s only available in plastic, skip it (bonus points for writing to the manufacturer to complain).
56. Choose fruits and vegetables that are sold loose. There’s absolutely no reason for peas, peppers or tomatoes to be wrapped in plastic or strapped to Styrofoam.
57. Seek out local produce at the supermarket or (better yet) a farmers’ market.
58. Eliminate excess baggage in your car. If you don’t need to carry it around, don’t. You’ll use less gas.
59. Take your own insulated mug for your coffee stops.
60. Combine errands so that you use less fuel.
61. Live near town? Walk sometimes!
62. Seek out one wild food source in your area. Maybe it’s dandelion greens. Or maybe you’ve got a source for wild asparagus or blackberries.
63. Go meet your neighbors. Having a friendly community means a chance to share equipment rather than everyone owning the same snow blower or tractor. Those same neighbors may share their garden surplus or help you tackle all of those excess zucchini.
64. Think about needs versus wants. We’ve become a society of shoppers. Do you really need that new pair of shoes?
65. Choose to live with less stuff.
Kris works daily to reduce her family’s footprint on this earth. Join her at attainable-sustainable.net for discussions about composting, gardening and cooking from scratch.
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