5 Ways to Live Greener
I love the outdoors. The purity and sanctity of nature is something many of us take for granted, and nothing is more disappointing than seeing trash on the bank of a mountain stream or finding plastic in the underbrush of a backcountry trail. Our planet is in danger, and it’s up to us to do our part and make a difference in protecting it so future generations can enjoy the beauty of untouched nature the way we have been able to.
But how to even begin? The internet is flush with examples of people who live a zero-waste lifestyle, who started recycling companies at age 7, who invented tools to clean up the ocean. I don’t know about you, but I’m not nearly that creative! Luckily for both of us, there are plenty of ways to live a greener lifestyle without breaking the bank or completely rearranging your life. Here are some baby steps to start living greener.
1. Eat More Veggies!
Not only is this a healthy lifestyle choice, but the meat industry is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and fertilizer waste in our water. You don’t have to cut meat out of your diet entirely to make Earth-healthy choices. Start small by going meatless on Mondays and build up to more days a week if you want to. You’ll be surprised at how many fun and tasty vegan and vegetarian recipes are out there! When you do buy meat, try to buy responsibly raised meat that isn’t injected with hormones. What’s better for you is better for the planet, so this is a win-win! Plus, you’ll be surprised by how good veggies taste.
2. Change Out Your Household Cleaners, Lightbulbs, and Soaps
This is another super easy way to make a small impact. Start by swapping out your lightbulbs for LED low-usage bulbs. They’re bright, they’re cheap, they use so much less energy! This will save you money on your power bill too, so there’s no loser in this scenario. Next take a look at your household cleaners. Especially when it comes to cleaning sprays, the aerosol content can trigger asthma and allergies, and it adds to the number of pollutants in the air. Try an organic and natural cleaning alternative—there are tons of options and they smell amazing. Do the same with your soaps. Opt for packageless bar soap to reduce plastic waste and go organic or biodegradable to send only good vibes down the drain.
So much of what we throw away is still perfectly usable: we’re just too lazy to take it to a donation center, or we don’t know what to do with it. Whether it’s large household furniture or appliances or small things like clothing, look for ways to donate your undamaged castoff items to give them longer life and prevent landfill accumulation. You can hit this from both sides and buy at thrift shops and secondhand stores too! But donation doesn’t stop at clothing: did you know that you can send your electronics in for recycling? It’s called Urban Mining, and companies will often pay you to send in your phones and laptops, so they can reuse the precious materials inside them. Plus, they know how to properly dispose of the materials, so this is a great way to get rid of old electronics without hurting the planet.
4. Use Cloth instead of Paper
Paper towels are the worst! Trees are grown and cut down, so we can clean up a spill that could have been cleaned up with a rag. Using reusable cleaning materials helps keep trees alive, reduces landfill waste, and saves you money in the long run. But your cloth revolution doesn’t have to stop there. Buy beeswax wraps to replace tin foil and plastic wrap: or you can even make your own! For those who have menstrual cycles, look into cloth pads and diva cups as a replacement for single-use pads and tampons. For those with babies, check out reusable cloth diapers! There are tons of ways you can replace single-use items in your home with reusable cloth alternatives.
5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse
This is where the small actions build up to become a lifestyle. If you always keep these 4 Rs in mind, you’ll live an overall much greener life. Reduce your use: turn off lights, take shorter showers, eat less meat, buy fewer things that will end up thrown away. Reuse what you have: cut clothing you can’t donate into squares and use them for cleaning rags, wash dishes and cutlery instead of using plastic or paper, take your reusable mug to the coffee shop. Recycle what you can: make sure to wash out recyclable materials and if your area offers a recycling program, enroll in it! Refuse excess: cut back on the consumable items that pile up in your home and eventually in a landfill.
Do you have tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment below! And thank you for doing your small part to make the world a greener place.