I was recently going through the April 2010 issue of Glamour Magazine and came across an article about “How to Create Less Trash”. I’m a huge advocate of being kind to mother earth, not wasting things that don’t need to be wasted, and creating a smaller footprint on the earth. After all, someday our kid’s kids will live here, and I would like to think I contributed to making it a cleaner place. And if we all pitch in, then hey, wouldn’t all of those small differences amount to a big difference? I think so.
1. Use a re-useable mug instead of a paper coffee cup. Not only will you help out the trees, you will also save money on your drink at most coffee houses for bringing in your own cup. Side note: Using three paper cups per workday creates a 780 cup pile of trash a year. Yuck.
2. Think before you buy. Every day humans waste about 4.5 lbs of junk. Not all of that can be recycled, but a lot of that can. So as not to contribute to the heaping landfills, If you don’t need something, don’t buy it. Or if you do, make a wise purchase and get something with a recyclable package.
3. Recycle your old gadgets. You can take old cell phones and batteries to places like Best Buy to be recycled. Or check out Electronic Take Back Coalition to find a place near you. Or hey, make some money and try Craigslist or e-bay to sell your old goods.
4. Use old clothing rags or cloth in general to clean your house. Instead of using disposable cleaning wipes or tons of paper towels a day, (which sit in a city dump instead of de-composing) try using cloth rags for cleanups to save an average of $72 a year. Or cut up an old fraying towel and make some of your own rags.
5. Use hand dryers in public places. Instead of wasting a good hunk of paper that isn’t recyclable the way other paper products are, (and just sits in a city dump releasing methane), use the hand dryer, when applicable.
6. Drink tap water. This is a no brainer. You can save an average of $650 bucks a year by getting a refillable water bottle and drinking tap water. Plus the production of plastic water bottles uses up a shocking amount of energy. Tap water is just as good for you as bottled water, and saves you money. And if you must get a plastic bottle of water, look for those that use less plastic, or say that they are made with recycled materials, and are recyclable.
7. Eat your leftovers! You can save an average of $500 a year by just taking your dinner leftovers to work with you instead of eating out every day. Not only do you save money from not having to buy lunch, but think of all of those to-go containers that won’t be used because you are eating leftovers, and think of all of the food you won’t have to throw away! Win-win-win!
8. Go organic, when you can. If every one of us converted 10% of our diets to organic food, that would be the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off of the road. Just look for the green “USDA Organic” label on the product.
9. Eat more whole foods. As food expert Michael Pollan has said, “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” Processed foods create more pollution, from factory equipment, to packaging, transportation, etc… Whole, un processed foods are better for your body and don’t contain the fertilizers, pesticides (in produce), antibiotics and hormones (in meat) and other toxic chemicals that will soak into and sit in your body instead of being processed naturally and healthily.
10. Buy in bulk. If you must get packaged items, why not get more at once to save money, and save the packaging of many small items. Get a big bag of crackers, yogurt, and cookies and pour into re-usable containers for lunches instead of getting those individual serving sizes.
Check “The Vegetarian Blog’s” website for more Vegetarian Ideas.
11. Have 2 vegetarian meals a day. You’ll save about $80 a year this way. Raising livestock produces more greenhouse gasses each year than every car, ship, plane and train combined. (Think on that for a second…) Plus, meat is more expensive to purchase than grains and soy. Save a chicken, and some money! Or, if you are to dine out, check out www.DiscoverVeggie.com to find vegetarian dining selections in your city.
12. Choose chicken over beef. I’m a pescetarian (fish only) so this doesn’t affect me, but it’s good to know that pound for pound, beef production creates 13 times as many green house gasses as chicken production. Swapping chicken for red meat once a week for a year translates to the same pollution savings as nixing a 340 mile road trip in an SUV.
13. Eat what’s in season. You can find most fruits and veggies in the grocery store year round, but some have been shipped from far away warmer climates. When you can, hit up a farmer’s market and get local, in season produce. Check out Simple Steps to see what’s in season in your area.
14. Shop Green. Go for organic cotton t-shirts instead of conventionally grown cotton (less pesticides and fertilizers) Check places like H&M and Levi’s or Elieen Fisher for some options. Go for natural fibers over synthetic fibers. How will you know? Check the fiber content on the tag. Look for silk, hemp, jute, linen, cotton, or wool. And offer to leave the cheap plastic hangers that come with your clothes at the department store if you are just going to throw it away. They could re-use it.
Check out Alternative Earth for more on Green Clothing.
15. Try recycled Clothing. I love to go to the local Goodwill or St. Vincent’s to see what retro tops or broken in Jeans I can find for a fraction of the price.
16. Clean your clothes right. No matter what clothing you get, wash your clothes in cold water. You can find detergents for cold water that will clean just as well as in hot water. You’ll also reduce energy use and emissions, and extend the life of the pieces you love.
To check out where to get this cool bag, and many others, click here.
17. Bring your own shopping bag. This almost doesn’t need to be said… Plastic bags are terrible for the environment and are over populating our landfills, and thus, you should bring your own shopping bag whenever you can. And I don’t blame you for wanting those plastic bags sometimes, they make great trash bag liners, and have many other uses. Just don’t throw them away without re-using them!
So, with all of these useful tips, I hope you can find ways to reduce your footprint, and create less waste, keeping mother earth a clean place for generations to come. Happy Green-ing!