11 Simple Things You Can Do to Start Living a Cleaner, Greener Life
Do you want to Clean-up your health and Green-up your life, but are feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start!?
I know the feeling! I was in your shoes once, too. Below are 11 simple things you can do to start being better to your body and the environment, today.
1. Avoid Non-Recycleable Materials
There are many materials that have found their way into daily life, mostly due to their low price point or high convenience. Unfortunately, a lot of them cannot be recycled and end up filling up our landfills.
Here are some items to start avoiding: foil gift wrap, shrink/plastic wrap, padded envelopes, rubber bands, paper towels, napkins, foil lined bags (like chip bags), stand up pouches, plastic netting produce bags, aerosol cans, foil lined cardboard take out containers, cellophane, zipper lock bags, cereal bags.
Here in BC, Canada, we have a wonderful resource online that let's you know exactly what you can and cannot recycle. It's always best to double check with your municipality, too, because every city's capacity for processing recyclable material is slightly different.
Remember that recycle is the last 'R' - reduce and re-use come first! Avoid products that come in excess packaging and do more DIY to eliminate packaging and re-use old containers,
For more dirt on plastic, check out our post on Why You Should Avoid Plastic Packaging.
2. Say NO to Single-Use Plastics
Single-use plastics are items that are used once before they are thrown away. This includes: straws, plastic bags, water/pop bottles, stirrers, 'to go' cup lids and most food packaging. Around the world, 300 million tons of plastic is produced each year and only 10% of it is recycled. In the USA alone, people discard 500 million straws everyday. 500 million pieces of plastic per day which cannot be recycled and inevitably wind up in a landfill or polluting the environment.
Replacing plastic bags with re-useable ones, plastic straws with paper/metal/silicone, and 'to go' cups or plastic bottles with BPA free re-useable bottles/mugs won't save the world over night, but when we as consumers start thinking about our habits and making small changes, it can create big shifts in consciousness that lead to wider societal changes.
Local to the Sunshine Coast? Check out our Straw-Free Coast Campaign - or, see if something similar exists in your area! And, encourage local retailers and restaurants to forego straws and plastic bags.
Check out our Modern Hippie Water Bottles and Re-usable Silicone Straws Here!
3. Buy Organic
Organic food is better for you and better for the climate. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional farming are often derived from fossil fuels. Research shows that chemical farming uses more energy per unit of production than organic farms and contributes much more to climate change. Organic farms use natural manure and compost for fertilizer which stores much more carbon in the soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere. Overall, organic soil tends to be healthier than its chemically treated counterpart, containing less harmful pesticides and toxic metals and more vitamins and minerals.
4. Shop Local
When you shop locally you are investing in the success of small business owners who are themselves invested in the future of your community. Money spent at a local business generates 3.5 times more wealth for the local economy, versus money spent at a chain business. Locally sourced goods often also use less packaging, require less processing and have a much smaller carbon footprint, requiring less fuel to get to market and creating much less air pollution.
5. Buy Natural Fibre Clothing
Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and fleece may as well be known as plastic fabric. These chemically derived fabrics create micro plastics which go down the drain in the wash and into our oceans. Natural fibres, such as cotton, linen (made from flax), silk, wool, cashmere and hemp, are more sustainable, requiring less energy to produce and therefore, less fossil fuels. Because natural fibres are plant materials, when they are disposed of they decompose much more quickly than synthetic fibres which are not quick to biodegrade.
Check out our Organic Cotton and Bamboo Modern Hippie Clothing Here!
6. Buy Used
Buying used electronics, clothing, toys, vehicles and more, is more sustainable and more affordable. A new product requires farming, factory producing, harvesting and shipping to get it to market - that takes a lot of energy and fossil fuels! Used items don't require any new energy (aside from the gas you need to go pick it up!) and don't require any packaging.
7. Switch your Lights to LED
LED lights are up to 80% more efficient compared to traditional lighting, and draw less power than traditional lights, which means less demand from power plants and lower carbon emissions. LED bulbs last far longer than traditional light bulbs, meaning you'll be producing less waste overall. They are also free of toxic chemicals and recyclable!
8. Grow your Own Food
There's nothing quite so satisfying as eating food that you grew yourself. Not only are homegrown fruits and veggies generally much more flavourful, they can also be more economical. Another bonus is that you control the environment in your garden, so you can choose to garden without harmful pesticides. There are lots of ideas you can find online for how to naturally and organically deal with common diseases or pests. Lastly, the carbon footprint of produce that travels from your backyard to your plate is much more environmentally friendly than that produce you get at the grocery store that can travel 1000 km to find its way to you!
9. Start Composting
In 2016 it was reported that Canadians waste 183 kilograms of foodper person. That's equivalent to the weight of 1 million full grown elephants! That waste ends up either being incinerated (which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) or in our landfills (where it doesn't receive the oxygen it needs to decay and produces methane, which is 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide). A well managed home compost produces zero methane emissions!
Your decayed food waste will eventually become a gift for your garden, adding nutrients to your soil and increasing its ability to hold water.
Get started with these 4 Tips for Beginner Composters!
10. Eat Less Meat
An enormous amount of cropland, water, fuel, pesticides and fertilizer is required to grow enough soybean meal, corn and other grains to feed the animals in the factory farming industry. This all greatly contributes to world water and air pollution. Through their unique digestive processes, cows and sheep further pollute the air by producing significant amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide). Their waste (500 million tons of manure per year!) can leach pollutants like antibiotics, metals and nitrogen into groundwater and release toxic gases into the environment. Add on top the emissions created in the processing and transporting of commercial meat and it ends up having a huge carbon footprint.
The Environmental Working Group released an extremely interesting and comprehensive report that analysed the overall impact of meat production and consumption on the climate. You can read it here.
11. Avoid Artificial Fragrance
Fragrance is another way of saying "hidden chemicals". Found in many cleaning and beauty products, fragrances are considered "trade secrets" and companies are not required to tell you the ingredients being used. Fragrances can trigger migraines, allergies and asthma and many of them contain chemicals which have not been tested for toxicity.
Better to skip the fragrances and opt for natural essential oils, instead!
Try these 10 All Natural Air Fresheners for Your HomeThis list is a great start at leaving a more health and environmentally conscious life! For more inspiration on Clean and Green living, head on over here.