By Marcela Owen
Why should I care about the environment? Well, for one I know what some of you may be thinking, you are probably thinking that green is such a buzz word right now and there’s so much information and theories to decipher, so how can we contribute? I feel that every little bit counts, so it doesn’t matter if you head an environmental non-profit or if you ensure to recycle into the right bins, what matters is that you take action. I can speak about why I care about the environment. My passion and care for the environment started many years ago, the primary reason was because I’ve always felt that the environment is the foundation that glues all beings together.
You may ask yourself how can I help and will it even make a difference. Yes, it will! Take action whether it’s little or big, it doesn’t really matter, simply take action. Little actions like turning off appliances and electrical devices can help save energy and also decrease your electrical bill. Or if you are not using your TV, radio, appliance or computer, simply remember to turn the power off! Shutting off from technology gives you a chance to find silence and solitude. If you are searching to connect with others, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out to family and friends. So, caring for our environment and contributing in any way makes a difference, especially in the long run.
If we take a few steps to help out, the future of our planet can become a lot brighter. Consider the steps below to start greening your lifestyle. Take one or two or five or all, but take action! Here are a few easy steps to get started.
- Rethink the way you shop – before you buy any item, whether it’s clothing, appliances, food, clothes, just anything, ask yourself, do you truly need it? Avoid unnecessary consumption. I’m not saying to avoid all shopping, I’m simply saying to rethink what you buy. Do you really need it? Stuff creates waste and waste contributes to pollution. If we pay attention to how we buy and use things we can collectively achieve less waste, lower carbon emissions, less pollution as well as save money.
- Buy locally or grow your own organic fruits and vegetables – Do you have a local health food store nearby? Do you shop at the farmers market in your area? Make sure to support your local merchants, you will consume better quality food as well as support your community. The farther your food travels to reach your plate the more processed and the more energy spent to get it there. Organic, local foods simply taste better too!
- Reuse, reinvent and recreate – Most of the stuff we use ends up in the garbage sooner or later. We live in a wasteful society but we can change and control our personal waste. For example, I suggest reusing cups, plates and towels instead of throwing away stuff. Reuse water bottles or get a refillable one. Before throwing anything away, figure out if you can reuse that item or transform it into something useful.
- Participate in your community – What better way to stay motivated than to participate locally. Get interested in an environmental cause and figure out your true passion. Do you want to help nature, animals, and people in need? Or do you love the ocean, dolphins, whales, manatees? Making a commitment to a non-profit either by contributing monetarily or by volunteering will inspire you to stay involved and take action.
- Use your vehicle wisely and consider our planet – walk, ride your bike, use public transportation when possible. The amount of toxic emissions in our environment is astounding. When you have the opportunity to carpool, take public transportation or walk, please do so. Consider green vehicles when your purchase your next car and help our planet stay green.
- Reduce the amount of waste in the world – we talked about using less plastic bottles and bringing your own grocery bags when shopping. Why not consider our planet anytime we shop? Think green! Remember anything counts big or small. Bring awareness to your family and friends and support your local health food stores and farmer’s market.
- Use your washer and dryer as well as dishwasher when full – Make sure to wash full loads of clothing to maximize energy consumption. Same concept to apply with your dishwasher, only run it when it is full. Adjusting a few habits can help reduce water consumption, lower water and energy bills as well.
- Buy local and in bulk when possible – packaging waste is staggering these days, when we opt for less packaging it translates to less waste. Buy in bulk when possible, you could even bring your own container to avoid extra packaging. Make sure to bring your own reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags are highly detrimental to the environment and harmful to animals that end up in contact with plastic bags. Did you know that plastic bags could last hundreds of years on earth and also that particles of plastic may end up in our oceans? Refuse plastic bags and contribute to less waste and a healthier environment.
- Save energy at home and work – Unplug appliances and turn off computers when not in use. At work as well as at home, turn off lights when not in use. If sunlight is an option, use it! High levels of energy and electricity are wasted when lights and appliances are unnecessary left on. Making a habit “switch” can help save energy and lower electricity bills.
- Take five minute showers – Lots of water is wasted with long showers. In addition, using low-flow shower fixtures can reduce water usage. Committing to shorten your showers helps reduce water consumption as well as lower water and energy bills.
- Consider indoor plants for cleaner air – house plants absorb indoor pollution. A home with indoor plants exudes a different feeling, the air is alive and it also passes good energy. Many plants can actually absorb pollutants that permeate in many homes. Some of these toxins are potentially responsible for illnesses and severe health conditions. I suggest placing house plants throughout your home to promote clean air and for your family to breathe in safer, more pure air.
- No chemicals in cleaning products – My suggestion is to read labels! It is important to pay attention to your cleaning supplies, soaps, ambiance sprays, and any other substance lurking around at home. Many homes contain a myriad of chemicals. Chemicals are not good for humans, animals or the environment. I encourage you to purchase green, organic, non-abrasive products to clean and maintain a naturally fresh and healthier home.
- Turn off running water when not in use – Make sure to turn off your faucet while brushing your teeth or washing your face so unused running water stops. Shorter showers as well as paying attention how we use water can save gallons of water every year and save on water bills. Teach your kids to save water, they will use what they learn at home and school and also teach their friends to help reduce water consumption too.
- Remember to bring GREEN to work – Consider bringing your own lunch to work in a reusable container. You will not only save money but also most likely enjoy a healthier (and hopefully organic) lunch. Bring your own bowl and bamboo ware so you can reuse your utensils. Make sure to bring your own mug to work to avoid disposable cups. Little steps like these contribute to less energy use and less waste.
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store – Remember to always bring your own bags to avoid plastic or paper bags. Get in the habit of keeping a couple of reusable shopping bags in your car. Plastic and un-recycled paper waste are filling up our landfills and changing our ecosystems. Let’s take collective action and do something about it.
All these tips come in handy for anyone that wants to start their green journey. I’m providing a few pointers but information is readily available if you would like to expand on any of these options. The internet is a great tool to search for more information. Also, your local health food store can help you find what you are looking for as well.
My goal is to have the most eco-friendly home possible. I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my greenness at home and at work. I enjoy going through a little exercise that I call “environmental spring cleaning”, but what does that mean exactly? I actually give spring cleaning a whole new meaning. It doesn’t only apply to cleaning your closet but also to cleansing your life, your home but most importantly your mind. It’s so miraculous how it all works. Clearing physical pollutants, clutter as well as mental and physical toxicity from our lives will almost simultaneously clear your mind and soul.