9 Steps to Green Your Everyday Living

ikea recycle bins, beginner steps to going green, environmental friendly choices, earthy lifestyle, refuse reduce reuse recycle rot

Happy Earth Day!

Let's talk some simple steps to green your everyday.

Originally, I considered this my "greenest things we do" post. Then, I realized sharing the principles that help us make green choices seemed a little more beneficial than focusing on our specifics. I mean, really, what's a guy to do with my "greening your period" post? That's a pretty green choice I've made that has nothing to do with him (or even some girls).

Instead, we'll use the "teach a man to fish" idea and help you grow your own "greenest things we do" list.

9 steps to greening your everyday living...

These steps might look very similar to the refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot mantra of Zero Waste Home. Let me clear that up for you: It is. This is what those options might look like in practice.

1. Do without.

This is that "refusing" business I shared about last week. It's hard. But it makes the biggest impact. Learn to do without. It prevents wasted resources in production and waste when you realize you didn't need that thing in the first place.

What doing without might look like: Stop using q-tips; say no to freebies; asking for gifts of experiences instead of things; ditch the shampoo + conditioner; be content with what you have; make new outfits out of what's already in your closet.

2. Use less.

If refusing isn't an option, then consider using less. Reducing our consumption is the next best thing to refusing.

What reducing might look like: Put a brick in the toilet to use less water at each flush; take shorter showers; meal-plan and make smaller portions of food; minimize the makeup bag and have no-makeup days; use a smaller rotation of things like towels and socks; unplug electronics when not in use or over night.

3. Look into reusable.

If something is used repeatedly, then it's a good idea to find a reusable alternative rather than it turning into waste after each use. (Although, there might still be a time and place for disposable.)

What reusing might look like: Have a stock of reusable grocery bags, napkins, glass storage containers, water bottles in the kitchen; use a diva cup instead of tampons; bring your own mug to get coffee; cloth diaper your baby.

4. Buy consumables in bulk.

Things like cosmetics and food are often packaged in a way that creates waste. Consider buying these in bulk (as they're available), and even using reusable packaging to do so.

What buying bulk might look like: Buy rice, beans, oats, flour, cookies, dried fruit, cereals, even soaps and non-food items in the bulk section of a local store; use Bea's new bulk locator app to save your fav bulk locations or find some new ones.

5. Buy consumables with recyclable packaging.

If the consumable food and cosmetics you need are not available in bulk, then choose products with recyclable packaging.

What buying recyclable materials might look like: Seasonings in glass containers; hair products in plastic #1 or #2; products in cardboard boxes.

6. Make or grow your own.

Making or growing your own is all about being resourceful and forgoing "easy" for what's best. This gets at the heart of green-living.

What making/growing your own might look like: Grow your own tomatoes or herbs or a whole garden; make a little girls skirt or dress out of a shirt you no longer wear; slow cook dry beans into your own chili; bake your own muffins; make a yummy green smoothie instead of going out for ice cream.

7. Buy secondhand or borrow.

When we purchase things secondhand instead of new, it extends the life of that item, keeps it out of the landfill, saves us money, and saves the resources going into making new items.

What buying secondhand or borrowing might look like: Make a list of needed clothing items (remember #1 above) and check thrift stores periodically until you find what you need; search Craigslist and Facebook selling groups for household items, cars, etc.; ask around to borrow someone else's if it's an occasional use or seasonal item (i.e., tent or waffle iron).

8. Extend its life.

Whether it's food or a piece of clothing, extending the life of what you have is important in not adding to the landfills and preserving resources.

What extending life might look like: Freeze leftovers so they won't go bad before eating them; repair a hole in a piece of clothing; save up to purchase better quality that will last longer.

9. Dispose with care.

When it's finally time to let go of something, we should be considerate of how we do so.

What disposing with care might look like: Donate or sell clothing or home goods with use left in them; Freecycle products to help them go directly to someone that wants them; bag up clothing with holes and stains and label "rags" to donate to Goodwill; compost food products; recycle paper, glass, cans.

One change at a time.

Hope this list gets you started. You don't have to start where anyone else is. Just note that one thing that seems to create the most waste in your home, and find solutions to change it. One change at a time, one person at a time, makes a real difference!

Finally, a few green resources for you:

1. greening your period
2. when going green is counter culture: how to refuse
3. curly-haired girl's no 'poo testimonial
4. skin deep: checking your cosmetics' toxicity
5. prefoldslove.com (my new cloth diaper blog launches today!)
6. make your own deodorant

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