These days it seems you can`t even go two hours without seeing or hearing something about “being green,” whether it`s an advertisement for an Earth-friendly product, news about an environmentally-sound investment, a report about a business or community that`s taking steps to be more eco-conscious, or just general advice on how to save the planet. “Going green” isn`t just the latest trend though; it`s something we all must do to conserve resources, combat climate change, and preserve our planet for generations to come. Here are six easy-but essential-things you can do to “green” your lifestyle (and save a little cash too:)
1. Green Clean Your House: Conventional household cleaners and bug-killers can contain as many as 200 industrial compounds, pollutants, and other chemicals. These harmful toxins are dangerous for you, your children and your animal companions, as well as harmful to the environment. Chemicals in cleaning products have even been implicated in Parkinson`s disease, infertility, brain damage, cancer, and other health problems.
It`s safer and greener to buy only organic, all-natural cleaning products. Many natural, cruelty-free cleaning products are available in many supermarkets and drugstores. Thrifty cleaners can also make their own green cleaning supplies with everyday, inexpensive ingredients like baking soda, borax, cornstarch, and white distilled vinegar, which is effective for killing bacteria and germs.
2. Garden with a Green Thumb: Americans use approximately 80 million pounds of pesticides in their gardens every year. Like chemical-cleaners, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers pose a threat to you and your loved ones, and the environment in general. Instead, use compost and plant native plants, which have adapted to the environment and require less water and attention, in your garden. By composting you can recycle your yard and kitchen wastes (even your dinner scraps) to fertilize your own garden. This saves you time and money and helps the environment.
3. Don`t Be in the Dark About “Green” Light Bulbs: Compact fluorescent light bulbs are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and cost-effective. They can be purchased at most hardware stores and cost under $4 each. If you use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of standard incandescent ones, you`ll not only help save the environment, but you`ll also save around $30 on your electric bill.
4. Curb Consumerism: Do you really need more knick-knacks, techno-toys, fad fashions, and stuff that will ultimately land in a landfill? Cutting back on unnecessary purchases not only helps save landfill space (and all the materials needed to make the “must-have” merchandise), but it will also save you money for more important things.
When you do go shopping bring along reusable canvas shopping bags. Every year Americans use up to 100 billion plastic bags, which equals about 12 million barrels of oil. Some stores offer a small discount if you bring your own bag, and by not using a non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bag, you can help save wildlife. Thousands of animals choke to death on plastic bags, thinking they are food.
5. Eat Green: If you want to be green, it`s important to eat green-vegetarian, that is. “Meatless Mondays” or Thursdays, or what have you, are a great start. The less meat you eat the more you help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, curb pollution, and conserve water, land, fossil fuels, and other resources. Consider this:
*A United Nations report revealed that the meat, egg, and dairy industries are responsible for more greenhouse gasses than all the cars, SUVs, ships, tractor trailers, trains, and jumbo jets combined. According to the Live Earth concert handbook, “refusing meat” is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.” Researchers with the University of Chicago even report that going vegan is 50% more effective in stopping global warming than switching to a hybrid car.
*The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. The EPA also reports that about 80 percent of ammonia emissions in America come from animal waste.
*It takes more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food for a meat-eater; only 300 gallons of water a day are needed to produce food for a vegan. Nearly 80 percent of the agricultural land in the U.S. is used to raise animals for food. E: The Environmental Magazine has reported that more than one-third of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S. are used to raise animals for food.
6. Buy Local: If you buy locally-grown fruits and veggies rather than produce that has been trucked across the country, you can help conserve fossil fuels and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful pollutants released into the air. Buying produce from a local farmer`s market also supports local farmers, who often do not use as many harmful chemicals and waxes on the food they grow. You can usually find your local produce cheaper at the Farmer`s Market than in the grocery store.