Going green is downright fashionable these days, with celebrities and politicians jumping on the global bandwagon to save the planet and improve the condition of our lakes, oceans, air and soil. Many of them urge major lifestyle changes like electric cars, solar panels for home energy and using only organic foods. While the concept is sound, for many of us it isn’t practical to completely overhaul our lifestyles in one fell swoop.
Switching to a greener lifestyle sensibly can still make a major impact on the planet if each of us takes a few steps in the right direction. If every one of us makes five or six small changes, the global ramifications can be major, so start looking around your own home and thinking about how you can make the switch without having a Hollywood budget and without completely disrupting your work and home routine. We’ve put together a list of suggestions to get you started:
- Switch from Plastic to Canvas Bags
First and foremost, stop using those plastic bags at the grocery store. Canvas tote bags are wonderful for grocery shopping and are much sturdier than flimsy plastic. You’ll never have to worry about a broken bag again! Canvas is also versatile – you can take them to the beach, play dates or the mall because they’re stylish and easy to fold away in your car.
- Switch to Glass Storage Containers
Plastic and Styrofoam sit in landfills for generations. Start storing leftovers in glass containers and you’ll wonder how you ever did without them. You can see everything clearly and they come in a wide variety of colors and designs for every décor. Glass is a natural product made from sand and produces no harmful by-products.
- Switch from Synthetic to Natural Cleaning Products
Manufacturers have responded to consumer demands and you can now find all-natural laundry soaps that don’t contain any chemical detergents or foaming agents that would contaminate the water or soil. You can also switch to a variety of bleach alternatives such as OxyBoost and other oxygenating agents that will brighten whites and help remove stains without using bleach, which is highly toxic.
- Switch from Bottled to Filtered Water
A generation ago, the concept of paying for simple drinking water in bottles would have seemed ludicrous, yet today everyone buys it! Over 10 billion water bottles end up in land fills in the United States alone each year – a staggering amount of plastic that doesn’t get recycled. If you invest in a water filter that costs between $30 and $150, you can get delicious, high-quality drinking water right from your tap instead. Filter cartridge replacements are inexpensive and generally only need to be purchased about once a year. Going on a walk and want to take some water along? Try aluminum or stainless steel water bottles that are lightweight and will last for years.
- Switch from Synthetics to Organic Cotton Sheets
The sheets on your bed set the tone for the décor in your bedroom and the comfort of your sleep; don’t buy polyester blends or inexpensive sheets that have been over-processed with a coating to keep them “wrinkle free.” Opt for organic cotton sheets for superior comfort – they’re more breathable, are less likely to trigger skin sensitivities or allergic reactions and if taken fresh from the dryer, will have minimal wrinkles because of today’s superior weaving methods. Go for the highest thread count you can afford for the ultimate in luxury.
You can take this one step further and avoid synthetics in your house altogether. Look for upholstery fabrics for every room in your house that are natural – wools, and linens for chairs and sofas, silks and cottons for curtains and accent pieces. Man-made upholstery fabrics can give off chemical contaminants that pollute your indoor air.
- Switch from standard grass and lawn fertilizers to a low-care lawn
By doing this, you can actually create added impact in your landscaping by thinking beyond the typical suburban ideal of a flat patch of green grass. Lawn fertilizers are one of the biggest problems in the world in terms of soil contamination. If you switch to drought resistant, indigenous plants and opt for landscaping that focuses on the natural beauty of your area, you’ll not only protect the soil, you’ll create a beautiful environment for your home.
There are hundreds of ways you can make sensible switches in your home that will impact the environment and the health of people and pets in ways both large and small. From switching to fluorescent light bulbs to switching to a Hybrid car, every step counts. Together these switches will add up to a remarkable world-wide change.
For more Great Green tips check out our
Fresh Ways to Live Green article on FOKaL.