4.13.2012

The Friday Five: It Ain't Easy Being Green!

image credit: hortongrou

The Friday Five: It Ain't Easy Being Green!
With April being a month of awareness building for ecological causes it seemed fitting to make this week's Friday Five a list of the most helpful tips I've received in trying to make my lifestyle and home greener.

1. Start small.

One of the most difficult parts of going green is being able to put it into perspective. Not every person, or family, can go green overnight. It can be very intimidating at first so start small! In my case I decided to pick one room in my home to start with and work on it first. For me the easiest was the laundry room. Our dryer broke down last spring so when we shopped for a new one we made sure we chose Energy Star rated appliances. We also made the switch to eco-friendly products including Biokleen's All-Temperature Citrus Laundry Liquid and using oxygen bleach instead of chlorine bleach. I'm still in the market for a great eco-friendly fabric softner or static reducer.

2. Do what you can, don't sweat what you can't.

image credit: jaylopez
A couple of years ago I started saving up all of our plastics and cardboard for recycling. When my bags were full I went online to look up the hours of the recycling plant so I could decide when to take them. Only to find out the local one doesn't recycle plastics. The nearest plastic recycling facility is a four hour drive away... and you have to PAY them to recycle your plastics. :( Sometimes there are going to be things that due to location, health conditions, or cost you won't be able to do. So do what you can and try not to worry about the things that are not within your means, doing just one thing makes a difference!

3. Buy used and vintage.

I'm embarrassed and a little sickened to admit how many partical board bookshelves and other cheap-o furniture bits I've thrown away. They just don't last! So many things are made from cheap materials in factories in this day and age it's no wonder the seams unravel or the bookshelves collapse. Yet the antique furniture that belonged to my great-grandparents, while a bit scuffed and worn looking, is in great shape! While not always the most cost effective option (ie. when buying in an antique store), a yard sale or thrift shop find might last you a lifetime. Sometimes all they need is a good coat of paint or a washing. Some of my favorite pieces of clothing are vintage finds from thrift shops. Figure out what used goods are suitable for you and spend your money there instead of buying the cheap stuff in department stores that will get thrown away next year.

4. Reduce, Reuse, READ!

It sounds like obvious advice but I decided instead of reading individual articles—especially on the internet—about going green, I made a point to pick a topic and start reading about it. My big area of needing to greenify is in the cleaning process. So I picked up Make Your Place: Affordable & Sustainable Nesting Skills and Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home to get started. I've made some of my household cleaners from scratch and found out one of my old favorites (vinegar!) is a great one. So if you want to focus on greener eating pick up some cookbooks focusing on organics or green gardening, or if reusing and upcycling is what you want to get better about find some great books on how to make good use of your old stuff.

5. Set goals and get everyone involved in meeting them.

Building a greener lifestyle isn't an overnight thing. Nor is it a one-man war. Start with your kids! One of my earliest goals in being greener was using less electricity. If you're a mom you know how difficult that can be with kids. When I catch lights and electronics left on or the big kids standing in front of the fridge browsing I put on my mean mom pants. What they're learning through the reminders is that a) mom loves to yell (lol), b) it's good for the polar bears, and c) wasting money on unneeded lighting or refridgerator cooling means less money we can spend on trips for ice cream or to see a movie. It ain't easy being green (to quote my favorite Muppet) but when everyone is trying it's not as difficult. If that means explaining it to your kids as 'we're saving electricity to save money for fun things' it's a start. Spending that little extra on the Biokleen products or eco-friendly body care brands can be as much about taking care of the environment as protecting our bodies from toxic ingredients, or so I'm teaching the hubs.

I hope this year as Earth Day approaches you'll find these tips helpful in finding ways to live a little greener. Every little bit is good so don't feel bad if you fed you kids organic strawberries but left a light on over the sink one night. Like most things in life, being a friend to the environment can be a balancing act. Just do the best you can and don't let others guilt you on the things you cannot.

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