It IS Easy Being Green:: Simple Steps to Being Environmentally Friendly

It IS Easy Being Green:: Simple Steps to Being Environmentally FriendlyBy now, we’ve all heard of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” This Earth Day, do your part to respect our planet by putting those three simple words into practice with everyday “green” solutions. 

I am not sure how I ended up this way, but I have always cared deeply about the environment. This in no way means that I am a shining example of being “green”; however, it does mean I try my best every day. Here are some small changes you can make that would be better for our planet. After all, it is currently the only planet capable of sustaining human life.

1. Consume less. This is simple. Don’t buy things just to buy things. Be meaningful with how you spend your money. If you have to unfollow some fashion bloggers to reduce the temptation, go for it. I definitely have.

2. Utilize your recycling bin. If you’re doing it right, it should fill up before your trash bin. {It helps to verify what is actually recycled in your county. Coincidentally, I learned that even though our bin says glass can be recycled, it is not part of our curbside program. I now keep it separate and drive down to the Fort Bend Recycling Center when it piles up.}

3. Don’t litter. Ever. It is disgusting and inexcusable.

4. Purchase and use a refillable water bottle that is dishwasher safe. Our family likes these Camelbak bottles. This will limit your purchasing of bottled water, which will both reduce waste and save you money. Single use plastics are destroying our oceans.

5. Use real dishes, utensils, and glasses for all meals at home. Add up the number of people in your family. Multiply that by 3. Multiply that by 7. That number would only show you a week’s worth of the waste you are creating by using paper, plastic, or styrofoam instead of materials that can be used repeatedly for decades

6. Use bento-style reusable lunch boxes and snack boxes for your kids. If they bring their own lunch to school, this actually simplifies the process of preparing it. There are often labeled compartments, which can help with packing a healthier lunch as well. We love these Yumbox containers:: Yumbox Original, Yumbox Panino {great for sandwiches}, and Yumbox MiniSnack.

7. Reduce or eliminate toxic household cleansers. If you have to ventilate a room to use a chemical cleanser, it is not only bad for the environment, it is bad for you. I try to purchase “free and clear” products, and I have learned that the most green solution, white vinegar and baking soda, can solve almost any problem.

8. Buy local. This is a no brainer. The less a product has to travel to get to you, the better it is for our environment. 

9.  Think before you make that online order. I know it is convenient. I know it is sometimes cheaper. I know that 1-2 day shipping is attractive. I am not saying not to ever order things online, just be conscious of the impact your decision causes and whether or not it is worth it. Some things will definitely still feel “worth it,” especially if you are busy and strapped for time. Don’t forget to break down that cardboard shipping box and recycle it though.

10. Three words:: reusable shopping bags. Don’t leave home without them. Good ones are worth their weight in gold!

11. Shop your local Farmers’ Market. Not only are you getting the best produce, dairy, meat, and seafood, but you are supporting someone IN your community. Don’t forget the reusable bags. 

12. Do not sit in your car with it on and running while in “park” for more than five minutes. This is a big one for those in the school pick up line. I have seen parents arrive to get in line a full hour before school lets out. Roll down your windows. Turn off your car. Or better yet, consider biking or walking to school if it is nearby. If it is not, consider utilizing the bus service.

13. Do not buy the latest and greatest gadget or phone every time a new one is released. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste and spending, and what exactly happens to the old ones?

14. Donate gently used items to a local charity. Not only will you reduce the clutter in your own home, but you will be helping those less fortunate. You can also ask for a donation receipt to use on your income taxes. Win-win.

15. Reuse containers. We all had that Grandma who saved and reused every Country Crock and Cool Whip container, am I right? Well, she was on to something. Even if you don’t reuse them for storing food, they can be reused for children’s crafts and crafting supplies. We spent several years abroad, and my kids’ favorite art activity is still “box construction.” In Australia, the elementary teachers encouraged families to donate empty cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, plastic bottle caps, egg cartons, etc for the children to use their imaginations to create art. {I’m not saying you should dismantle it and recycle it while your kids are sleeping, except that is exactly what I am saying.}

16. Ride your bicycle. To the playground. To the neighbor’s house. To work or school if it is safe to do so. Don’t forget to wear a helmet; it has nothing to do with being green and everything to do with protecting YOUR most precious resource. It is also recommended that you install a bicycle bell to give a little warning to people who may be walking in front of you on a path.

17. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. My only exception to this rule is when I am trying to get hot water to wash my face with afterward. Sometimes it really takes that long to heat up. Obviously this is not necessary during summer in Houston.

18. Utilize your local library or an online service for reading books. We don’t need to own them all, especially if we’re only going to read them once. 

19. Stream your music and movies. Do we really need CDs and DVDs anymore? Nope. 

20. Make your morning cup of coffee at home, and enjoy it in your favorite mug. Hopefully, your machine uses recyclable capsules or is old school and requires only coffee grounds, a filter, and water. And if you’re out meeting someone for coffee, be green and ask the barista to serve it in a mug instead of a single-use cup.

21. Enroll in paperless billing and auto pay. 

22. Make your home “smarter.” Whether you use a smart thermostat, smart lights, a smart sprinkler system, or something else, the goal is the same:: reduce unnecessary waste and spending.

23. Do not initiate or participate in helium balloon releases. I haven’t always known better, but now I do. Where do you think the balloons end up? If you’re keen to learn more, here is an article from Forbes.

24. Volunteer at Earth-friendly events. We have volunteered to collect old paint for proper disposal. We planted hundreds of trees out by Bush Intercontinental Airport. We have gone to beach and roadside clean-ups. Whatever you are willing to do, there is an event. Most of the big corporations in Houston have volunteer organizations. Otherwise, check here for local volunteer opportunities to go green.

25. Reuse bath towels several times before washing. On average, each member of my family uses the same bath towel {four total; we’re not sharing}, for an entire week. 

26. Just say no to party favor bags full of plastic junk. If you want to thank kids for coming to your child’s birthday party {not that you haven’t already spent enough}, be green and buy them each something they will actually use. One year, we got those color and go coloring books that come with like eight markers. They were a huge hit, and I know they didn’t go straight into the trash the same day.

27. Consume less meat. I know that’s a hard sell in Texas. I love beef just as much as the next guy, but it has been proven that the carbon footprint of meat production is huge. One way to still eat your meat and love your environment is to hunt or find a local rancher who can provide it to you. It doesn’t eliminate the negative impact, but it sure helps!

28. Buy your family’s favorite snacks in bulk. Yes, sometimes those individual packets are more convenient. But when you’re at home or packing lunches in the bento boxes linked above, there’s no reason to create the extra waste. Chips. Nuts. Snack crackers. Pretzels. Cookies. Fruit. Vegetables. Juice. Chocolate milk. Buy the big containers! It’s cheaper, too.

29. Switch to LED lights. They are a huge energy saver, and that translates to savings on your electric bill. Come Christmas time, try to decorate your house using LEDs as well. Not only are they energy efficient, but you can actually safely use more of them on a single outlet. Griswolds, rejoice!

30. Plant a native garden. Trees, plants, and flowers that are native to our climate require less effort and water during those hot summer months. They are proven survivors, and you’ll look like you have a green thumb!

31. Find your local recycling center, and utilize it. They accept much more than your local curbside program, if you even have one:: Paint, old household appliances and electronics, styrofoam, glass, batteries, hazardous waste, etc. 

What steps has your family taken to be greener? 


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2 Responses to It IS Easy Being Green:: Simple Steps to Being Environmentally Friendly

  1. Ashley KB
    Ashley KB April 29, 2020 at 1:01 pm #

    LOVE THIS!! So much more manageable than many of us realize!

    • Christy G
      Christy G April 30, 2020 at 11:19 am #

      Thank you! This truly is a passion of mine and always has been. It was my goal to be straightforward but not too preachy. I hope you found something that you can do to help.

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