Earth Day 2012: What Does Going Green Mean?

Going “Green” means taking measures to become environmentally conscious in your decisions – using various every day methods to reduce the harm that your living does to the environment.  Another popular term is “Sustainable living” which means “living a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and his/her own resources”.

If you want to “go Green”, you’re not expected to throw everything out and do a 180 today.  If you try to do that, most likely you’ll give up due to the overwhelming-ness of it all.  Just make a few small changes in your daily life to begin to go green.

For example, recycling is a huge way to begin to go green and do your part to encourage re-usable resources.  Instead of plastic, paper, aluminum and glass ending up in a landfill, it can be re purposed and used again.  By recycling, you are “going Green”.

Another to go green is when your cleaning products run out, try to replace them with products that are “organic” or “chemically free”.  When you use products containing harmful chemicals, the chemicals get washed down the drain and end up back in our water sources.

When you’re in the market for a new vehicle, look for one that is more fuel efficient.  You don’t need to sell your existing car now to go green.  Remember, small steps.  For now, try to reduce how much you let your car idle at drive through windows, carpool pick up lines and while waiting for someone.  For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile.

More ways to slowly go green:

  • When your batteries run out, replace them with rechargeable batteries.  The electrical energy is used and than the battery can be re-used after its charging.
  • When your gas powered lawn mower gives out, look for an electric one.While shopping at the grocery store, bring your own canvas sacks instead of taking home their plastic bags.
  • Shop at Farmer’s Markets.  Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
  • Ride your bike instead of driving when you’re able.Turn off your tap water while brushing your teeth and turn off lights when they are not necessary.
  • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
  • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Or, use a smart” power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use.
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.  Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
  • Skip buying bottled water and purchase a re-usable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, to use and refill.
  • Create a compost pile for use in your garden.
  • Shop re-sale for clothing and use your local library to borrow books.
  • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
  • Keep your cell phones, computers and other electronics as long as possible then donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes.  See our last Earth Day 2012 post for resources on where to do that.

You might already be implementing some of the above tips and if you are, you’re helping the environment and you are being “green”. You don’t have to implement everything on this list.  Going green can mean just starting out with one simple step and then growing from there.   Make one small change then make another, then another, then another.

– S.O.