Thursday, July 24, 2008

13 Things I changed That Made Me Greener

A friend of mine, who is not too much into the green stuff, asked me recently what I did during the last year that helped me become greener. There were things that I did always like recycling, but I will try to compile the list as I do them now as well. To become green, it takes time; I am not the kind of person who would change over night and I do not have the budget anyway. But this is what I did and I continue doing it and I think it would be easy for everyone, and hopefully convince my friend to start little by little changing those old habits.
  1. Recycle – this is the easiest to do. I do recycle everything possible – plastic/paper bags, light bulbs, electronics, cardboards, cans, plastic/glass bottles, food packaging, junk mail, etc. Bring your bags when going to the supermarket or the farmers market.

  2. Ventilate well your home every day. Stop using air fresheners since the indoor air is more polluted that the outdoor air anyway. Stop using insecticides and pesticides for your plants. I do not use anything for caring for the plants, except water and cleaning the dead leaves and they look very nice and healthy.

  3. Use energy efficient light bulbs – I switched to compact fluorescent bulbs in the entire house; it took a while to get used to the new light though.

  4. Use recycled paper products – I use bathroom tissues, paper towels made from recycled paper. I am still working on napkins and facial towels – I need to find something that will not scratch my nose when I get through a flu or cold.

  5. Use cloth instead of paper for cleaning. I have always preferred to use cloth for cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen or even wiping the dust from the furniture. I usually, use old tea shirts. This can help to reduce the garbage in our landfill.

  6. Get rid of the plastic. I eliminated all bad plastic from my house; I changed the plastic food containers with glass containers and I do not buy water in plastic bottle anymore. This was also based on the news related to the chemicals found in plastic. For a more comprehensive review of good and bad plastic you can go here.

  7. Use green cleaning products. I changed the cleaning products one by one, and I tried several until I found the ones that are actually working. Not all of them are doing a good job; however, expect to work a little harder on scrubbing than used to. I am very proud I did this since I started to hate the chemicals from the bottom of my heart. I made a review of some of the products I use on the Product Review of the Week category.

  8. Do not use the printer unless necessary. I started to think well before I use the printer and I use it less and less.

  9. Install a water filter. I installed a basic water filter that is supposed to reduce some of the chemicals in the water. I buy still and sparkling water in glass bottles as well.

  10. Get natural/organic personal care products. The problem with the personal care products is that they are not regulated so buying natural or organic does not give us any assurance that their claim is true, unless it provides the certification. There are some products that are certified by USDA and have the USDA organic seal, but you can also use the SkinDeep database to help you get products with less chemicals.

  11. Do laundry the green way. I changed my washer and dryer and bought energy efficient ones; to be sincere I changed them because they were rather old and it was about time to change them. But it was a good deal in the end (got them in some sale and also received some money back from my utility company) and I could say that this was the major change that I was able to see it on my bills. Some additional advices would be: wash full loads (which probably everyone does) and hang dry if possible. I hang dry everything except the bedding lingerie, towels and other things that are large and I cannot take outside. I like the fresh smell of the outside dried yarns.

  12. Buy organic food products. This can be expensive. What I do is to buy more meat when in sale and keep it in the freezer for the next meal; it is better this way than eating conventional meat. Eat more poultry even it is conventional - the poultry is not fed with hormones. The pork is not fed with hormones either. Buy your fruits and vegetables local. I do subscribe to a local farm and I get fresh vegetables every week; I got in love with it but I still need to supplement it with fruits and some additional vegetables. If you cannot buy only organic, try to buy organic only those vegetables and fruits that have the most pesticides on them and go conventional for those with less pesticides. You can go here for a complete list.

  13. Green my kids – well this is a whole different category, I will talk another time about it.

Probably this is not much by some standards, but I feel I changed a lot not only through the things done in my house but in my mind as well. And above all, I feel that my family is leaving a healthier life, with fewer chemicals. I am not doing drastic changes (for example, changing all my furniture with eco-friendly/organic one); I will do the change when the time is up for them. Also, prices on green things are coming down, so doing what's now affordable and needed will take you a long way. (Of course, if you're filthy rich do change everything :) but keep in mind there is so much greenwashing out there that you have to be careful. When I decide to change and buy something I learned to carefully look up for regulations and certifications to avoid scams and fakes. I hope this list will help!

2 comments:

Rylia said...

Just my 2 cents:

For the Facial tissues and napkins, go cloth (and save some money in the long run). http://www.hankettes.com/qs/category/8/148/0/0
These are the ones I use, they're organic cotton, incredibly soft, large, thick, and convenient. I keep one in my pocket at all times and you never get the shredded tissue lint. They also have little dispenser boxes you can buy to keep around the house.

They have organic cotton napkins as well, much sturdier than paper and while I have a different brand I'd expect these to be soft too, plus they're usually large and it gives your meals the air of a fancy restaurant. Buy colored if you don't like the idea of stains.

They have a lot of other interesting products, like re-usable coffee filters, I don't drink coffee but they sound interesting.

Hope my input helps just a bit.

Lucia said...

Rylia,

thank you for your comment. Cloth should be a nice solution for napkins (like those old times). I will try these ones. They seem to be very soft. Thanks,
Lucia