So, you have decided to "go green" for new year's. What does that mean? How do you do it?
The biggest component of going green is changing your mindset. You start to think about the impact of your actions upon future generations and their ability to live safely upon this earth.
Obvious things are to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as we can. Then we take time to get informed on the best actions and purchases to make that have the smallest ecological impact on our earth over the next 7 generations.
But to make things simple for those just starting out here is my list of simple but important changes.
1. Recycle- get yourself a box/tote/bag and lable it recycling. If your community offers curb side recycling use it, if not learn your drop off points. (also it helps to know what they accept for recycling...there are often fliers available with this)
2. use less energy for house heating/cooling. Start by caring enough to turn off excess lights, close windows and doors all the way, insulating, using window coverings, and just plain turning down the thermostat and wearing a sweater (winter only), in the summer put in shorts and turn it up, although I'd recommend open windows and lots of well placed fans for the best amount of airflow.
3. drive less by simply planning your errands and routes before time. If you reduce your trips to town by half that cuts your car emissions by 50% (and your gas bill). Also use opportunities to walk and take your bikes out to run errands.
4. buy used whenever possible/logical. Used clothes are often barely worn and at a much lower price, used toys are still new to your kids. Used furniture and small appliances are often good ideas too. some stores even often used house building/remodaling good. Look in your phone book and get your needs known, people are happy to share what they know is available.
5. think about every bit of trash you throw away. Ask yourself is there something I could do differently to avoid this throwing? I find that premade and fast food packaging often clog my garbage can, so I focus on cooking from scratch. I also changed out paper towels for rags, kleenexes for hankies and we now cloth diaper (although that choice was initially made more for allergies then environmental concerns).
6. Use natural cleaning products. I use vinegar and baking soda on most floors, bathrooms and other places that need scrubbed (I add essential oils for nice smells and germ killing). I also use 7th generation dish and laundry soap. For personal use, it is all natural soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste. Almost any product is available in a natural counter-part at a co-op or other natural foods store.
7. forget about perfect green lawns. You have my permission to focus your efforts instead of something that can be grown and then eaten. homegrown tomatoes and radishes are very satisfying to munch. If you need a lawn, let it grow as long as possible between mowing (about 4-5 inches is good) and then let nature fertilize your lawn with the falling leaves, just mow these right up. Or landscape in a way where no one will miss your lawn. Lots of food grow on pretty plants.