Posted on Feb 27, 2014 by Amy Knapp
Painless ways to go green
If you still think going green is for new ageists and hippies you’ve got a lot to learn about the green revolution. Composting is in, disposability is out. But the good news is that along with the trend toward living green comes a wealth of information and products that make it easy to implement changes.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle goes without saying (we would also add, Rethink and Repair), but you can go much further to making your home a green zone. Remember that even small changes can have a big impact. You don’t need to do everything. Often, just having the intention to live in a more environmentally friendly way sets the wheels in motion, and you may find yourself motivated to take on bigger projects too.
1. Sort out your composting situation
Yes, we know. There are all sorts of reason why you’re not composting. Your neighbourhood doesn’t have pick-up. It smells. Suck it up. Waste management is everyone’s responsibility. Get a nice container with a lid that seals easily and put it next to the place where you chop your veggies. If you don’t have local pickup, buy yourself a nice composting bucket. Good tools can make the job much easier, even pleasant.
Your garbage won’t smell, and it won’t fill up as fast. If you neighbourhood limits the number of bags allowed, composting will solve the problem.
A countertop compost can hold your organic waste until it can be transferred somewhere more convenient.
2. Buy quality products, preferably those with a lifetime guarantee
Our insatiable desire for the cheapest products possible is filling up landfills faster than you can say, “Where’s the closest Walmart?” The only guarantee you get from a cheap product is the guarantee you’ll have to buy a replacement, probably sooner rather than later. Lifetime guarantees are hard to find these days, but they certainly do exist. Start thinking in terms of guarantees, not the kind you pay big bucks for, but the kind that companies offer up freely, at no extra change, because they know their products are built to last.
Don’t be afraid of direct sales. Many quality products are sold this way simply because the desire for a bargain is just too great for the average Joe, who’ll choose the cheapest product in the store most of the time. The door-to-door salesman is your friend. See what he’s got in his trunk.
Saladmaster cookware comes with a lifetime guarantee, even for commercial use.
3. Eat food that’s grown (at least somewhat) locally
There’s a common misconception that eating local food necessarily costs more than imported food. Why should this be the case? The cheapest food you can get is the stuff that’s growing in your own backyard. Buying local has the added benefit of keeping you eating with the seasons, which is likely the best diet for your body. Growing a garden is more than just good for the environment. It’s good exercise, saves money and keeps you and your family in fresh, pesticide-free vegetables.
4. Make your own cleaning products
There isn’t much that can’t be cleaned with baking soda and vinegar. Got a clogged shower head or drain? Soak it in vinegar for a few minutes and presto! You’ll need pure, undiluted vinegar to clean tougher surfaces, but most can be cleaned with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. A large open bowl of vinegar will also slurp up any unpleasant smells in the house.
And ladies! Believe it or not, a little water and baking soda is all you need to keep your hair grease-free, bouncy and beautiful. Apple cider vinegar makes an excellent conditioner; just let your hair soak it in for minute or two.
Chemical companies spend big bucks convincing you that their products are worth much more than they are. All commercial cleaning products are essentially acid or alkaline. In other words, vinegar or baking soda. Don’t waste your money. Stick with what’s readily available in the kitchen.
Simple laundry detergent made from grated soap, washing soda and borax.
5. Repair things when they break
Many of your electronics and appliances have got years of life left when they go to the trash. Have a repairman take a look before you toss that broken refrigerator into the street. The same can be said of clothing and footwear. If you still love them, why not replace the soles of your favourite winter boots?
Repair professions are going by the wayside; it’s good to support them whenever you can. And when there isn’t a repairman available, try a DIY fix. Find an instructional video on YouTube and try soldering your motherboard back together before purchasing a new laptop or Playstation. What have you got to lose?
6. Share tools and appliances with your neighbours
Not everyone on the block needs to own a snowblower. Not everyone needs a wagon for the one time per year they move furniture or make a trip to the dump. Sharing is caring. Next time you need a power tool, or even some obscure kitchen appliance, pop over to the neighbours and ask if they have one you can borrow. It’s high time we started connecting and collaborating with the people who live next door.
These are only a few ideas. Look into ways you can make your home more energy efficient. Turn off heating and air conditioning when you’re not in the house. Take public transit once in a while. Switch to energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. Shut down your laptop at night. Switch to electronic billing statements and pay your bills online. Fix that leaky faucet. Buy stuff secondhand. Collect rainwater for your houseplants. Get a Diva Cup. Repurpose things around the home. Make stuff instead of buying stuff.
Figure out what works and do that. Chances are you’ll save time and money and feel good doing it. Remember - what’s good for the planet is good for you too. Everybody wins.