It’s no secret that most humans aren’t opposed to the idea of saving the Earth. Who could argue with the idea of saving the planet we depend on? However, it’s a common misconception that to be “green” means a radical change in lifestyle, involving driving a Prius running on vegetable oil, living in an earthship, and eating a vegan diet. Luckily, this isn’t the case! There are plenty of small steps to take towards easing into a green lifestyle.
The first main concept towards any lifestyle change is to be conscious. If you buy a bottle of water and throw it in the trash when you’re done, be conscious of what you’re doing. Next time, you may decide to hang on to the bottle until you can recycle it, and before you know it, you’re filling up your Nalgene bottle every night so it’s ready to go in the morning. Consciousness plays a big role in changing any kind of behavior (but really, facts on water bottles and plastic waste alone are astounding). So, now that you’re conscious of what you’re doing, here are a few different, simple and cheap ways to go green in your everyday life.
- Recycle your electronics. As early as 2005, Americans threw away over 5 and a half billion pounds of electronics, resulting in millions of pounds of chemicals and heavy metals in the ground, regardless of the fact that it’s easier to recycle electronics. Visit mygreenelectronics.org to find recycling resources in your area, as well as information on electronics, from TV’s to tablets to baby monitors, that are low-impact on the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if 1 million people recycled one cathode-ray tube TV this year, over 4 million pounds of lead would be kept out of the ground.
- Support your local farmers. When it comes to eating green, it usually doesn’t occur to people how far their food traveled and all the fossil fuels the truck carrying it burned, resulting in carbon emissions (pollution). So, by buying from your local farmers, you’re not only getting fresher, more delicious produce, but you’re also saving energy without even trying. To find more information about your local farmers, visit localharvest.org, sustainabletable,org, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Wash full loads in the dishwasher/washing machine. When you wash just a few clothes or dishes at a time, you’re wasting money, power, and water. Most of the energy used in these machines goes toward heating the water – 90% in the clothes washer and 80% in the dishwasher. By combining loads, using shorter cycles, and choosing cold (or even warm!) over hot water, the energy and money savings will start to add up, as well as the almost 4,500 gallons of water you’ll save over the course of a year. While you’re at it, air-dry both clothing and dishes.
- Compost!! A compost bin is super easy and cheap to make. They save lots of trash from ending up in landfills and provide an amazing soil for any kind of garden, as well as a natural fertilizer, eliminating the need for ones with chemicals. Denver Urban Gardens offers free composting classes and workshops all summer long!
- Make your own household cleaners. If you’ve ever been in Pinterest, you know people swear by home-made, natural household cleaners. Not only are they chemical-free, but they’re cheaper and you’ll save a lot of plastic from ending up in landfills and on the street. Even if you don’t have Pinterest, there are tons of places on the internet to find a nice list of every natural household cleaner you could possibly need.
- Eat smart. If you eat meat, try starting by eating one meatless meal per week. Not only is meat expensive, but the cost is even greater when you consider that a generous portion of greenhouse gasses come from slaughter houses. Try to buy and consume organic, locally and humanely raised meat, dairy and eggs whenever possible – this goes along with supporting local farmers.
- Sign up for green energy. Many people are unaware that more than half of the energy providing companies in the U.S. Have a green energy option. If you’re in Colorado, Xcel does too! Check it out here.
- Switch out your light bulbs. You’ve probably heard this one before, but have you done the math? Replacing your old incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or even halogens can save you almost 75% on your annual lighting bill – about $112 per year for the average home with 45 light fixtures.
- Opt for paperless billing. While you’re at it, opt out of junk mail. You’ll save paper and save greenhouse gases from being emitted as the mailman delivers the bills. Pay your bills online and have an electronic receipt e-mailed to you. Many companies even offer a discount of a few dollars for paying online. Add those savings up along with the savings of the stamps to send the bill in, and you’ve saved almost $70 in a year.
- Use a re-usable coffee mug. When we’re on the go during our busy day, the old coffee mug can sometimes be forgotten in our rush to get to Starbucks in the morning. But by making your own coffee and re-using a mug, you’re keeping trash out of landfills and emitting less greenhouse gases than you would if you took that extra few turns to get to the coffee shop, not to mention a significant weekly savings of around $20-$30.
Now, that wasn’t so scary was it? Getting into the green lifestyle really is as simple as a few small changes to your everyday life – and soon you won’t even realize you’re doing it. As always, keep up with The Grimey Gatsby and their green endeavors – from cleaning up the earth with #4pieces to growing and gardening with the Grimey Gatsby Grow Hour Radio Show.