By Alexa Bigwarfe
Earth Day is upon us again. Are you looking for ways to “green up” your life? Perhaps you want to save money? Maybe you have read about chemicals in processed food and want to do better for your children? Green living can enhance the quality of life for your entire family. And it’s not difficult to do.
Going “green” not only makes a positive impact on the environment, but can also have a positive impact on your wallet, and your health. Amy Landisman, former editor of the e-magazine Peachy Green says even a small change such as washing your clothes in cold water rather than hot can save you $60 a year. Landisman further notes: “Of chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects and cancer… For example, Tide contains formaldehyde; bleach is a migraine trigger and has been linked to other neurological problems.” Excellent reasons to consider making the home “greener.”
Here are some simple ways to implement a “greener” lifestyle with very little effort.
Recycle. Recycling is the easiest place to get started if you are looking for ways to reduce your footprint on the planet. Most cities and counties provide recycle bins making it as easy to recycle as it is to throw out trash. Recycling is also an easy habit to teach our children.
Go Paperless. Choosing to receive magazines, bills, statements, and other notifications electronically saves an incredible amount of paper. Since communicating electronically cuts costs on the person sending the product, many times companies will offer an incentive to go paperless.
Use cloth napkins. They are fairly inexpensive and very easy to keep up with. I place a stack of them in a basket on our table and we use them each night. If they do not get dirty, re-use the same one several times and toss them in the wash each week. As an added bonus, cloth napkins look fancier than paper when you have guests.
Start a compost pile. Especially if you plant a garden, this is a great way to replenish your soil. You don’t have to spend any money on a fancy bin, just find a corner in your backyard, dig a hole, dump your compost, and shovel dirt over it. The food biodegrades quickly, leaving rich soil for your garden.
Change out your light bulbs. Get rid of traditional light bulbs and use eco-friendly bulbs. Some of the benefits to eco-friendly light bulbs are that they last longer than traditional bulbs, they use 75% less energy, and they produce less heat than traditional bulbs.
Use RecycleBank.com or TerraCycle. RecycleBank/TerraCycle provide incentives and usually free postage to mail in hard to recycle items, like the plastic from diaper packages, Capri Sun wrappers, and other items. Recyclebank.com recently even started accepting toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes for recycling.
Recycle non-ordinary items such as batteries, light bulbs, printer cartridges, etc. Batteries and light bulbs contain very dangerous elements that leak into the soil and the water supply when they are thrown in the regular garbage, but are not usually accepted by the city or county recycling trucks. However, these items can be recycled and stores such as Best Buy usually have receptacles right at the inside of their stores. Collect up all of these types of items over time and quickly drop them off when you are out running errands.
As “green living” becomes a more popular concept, it is becoming easier to make lifestyle changes and to teach your children how to live in a more eco-friendly fashion. My children take the recyclables out to the bin each evening, and at 5 and 3 they already know how to do it and it will forever be a part of their life.
Once you go Green, you’ll become a recycling machine!
Alexa Bigwarfe is the mother to three small children. She enjoys finding creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, while teaching her children to do the same.