Spring is here, which means everyone is eager to go outside and take revel in the beauty of nature as it prepares for summer. This also means Earth Day is coming up, a day when we give back to Mother Nature. Really, every day should be earth day. We should always be conscious of what we take from the planet and what we do to take care of it to make sure we still have a planet for the future.
I’m not saying that we all need to be perfect and start living off grid, but there are small changes we can make every day that will help keep our earth safe for a while longer. The extra bonus to attempting to “go green” is that is also, usually, saves you money.
One big thing you can do is cut out the plastic bags. They were originally thought to be a good idea, replacing paper so we don’t cut down so many trees, but they take forever to decompose and clog waterways and hurt wildlife. Try your best to remember reusable bags when you go shopping or ask for paper if they offer. Trees will regrow and paper can decompose, both of which are better than plastic. Plus, most stores offer a discount when you bring your own bag (even if it’s a small one, it’s still something.) If you do have plastic bags, try to find ways to reuse them once or twice before recycling them. I use mine in the garbage’s in the bathrooms since they are the perfect size, plus then I don’t have to buy small garbage bags.
This one is another tricky one to remember but if you do it can save you, bringing your own mug/cup when purchasing drink or opt for a reusable tumbler in place of water bottles. I know some places allow you to bring your own reusable mug and sometimes you even get a discount by doing so. This helps reduce waste, especially if a plastic straw is being replaced. I’m sure you all have seen the video of the poor turtle with a straw stuck up his nose.
If you have kids, cloth diapering is a huge way to save you money and save on disposable diapers. Do you know it takes an estimated 250-500 years for a disposable diaper to break down? That’s insane! Cloth diapers can be used many times, plus if you have multiple children, can be handed down so you don’t spend any money the second or third time around. Same thing applies to cloth wipes. Bonus: you know what’s in them and don’t have to worry about chemicals on your baby’s skin. (And they are adorable)
Walk when possible. This includes walking instead of driving but also walking instead of taking the elevator or escalator. This helps you get in shape or stay in shape (who doesn’t want that?) but saves on electricity and cuts back on your carbon footprint.
Something simple and easy to do when you buy your six packs of sodas is to cut up the plastic rings when you recycle them. That way if they do make their way into nature it’s less likely to harm an animal because they won’t be able to get stuck in it.
Cut down on the plastic wrap and baggies that you use in the kitchen. Opt for reusable silicone covers or reusable baggies when saving food or packing lunches and snacks.
Think before you throw something away, can this be recycled. This includes your regular things like cardboard, plastic bottles and such, but what about things like clothes, toys, furniture, household items, and yard decorations. Think if it can be sold at consignment shops, donated to thrift stores, dropped off at scrap yards (metal items) or re purposed into something else, like the humming bird feeders I made. There is only going to be so much room in landfills before they are all full, think about where your old “junk” is going.
Shopping locally is another thing you can do. Go to local grocery stores, health stores, boutiques and farmers markets for your needs. This not only helps support small businesses and your neighbors but it also cuts down on transportation, reducing carbon footprint.
A great way to save money, and the environment, is to shop thrift stores. Almost all of my boy’s clothes come from a local resale shop. This is great for so many reasons, 1) they outgrow their clothes so fast I can’t afford to buy them new wardrobes every few months 2) I don’t feel bad if something gets ruined because it’s not brand new 3) since it is a consignment shop I am not only helping the business but I am helping out another family 4) hand-me-down clothing means less waste, less raw materials in production and a smaller carbon footprint due to less transportation.
Switch to energy efficient lighting and remember to turn off the lights and unplug electronics when not in use. This is a no brainer, saves you money and saves electricity, win-win!
Carpool when possible to save on gas, vehicle wear and tear and road wear and tear. I love my time in the car by myself but if I’m going to the same place as someone else and we live close by it makes sense to ride together.
When it comes to your cleaning products, think about switching to microfiber cloths that can be reused multiple times (saving on paper towels) or do what I did and switch to Norwex products, where you only need water to clean things! Saves me time because I never run out of cleaning supplies or paper towels so I’m not stopping at the store which also means I’m saving money.
If you’re able think about setting up rain barrels at a few downspouts. This will help recycle the water that nature gives you so when you need to water those plants you don’t have the electricity running your well (if you have one) or going through the city sewer system.
A big thing you can do, if you are thinking of building a house, is to make sure it is set up properly on your land to make the most use of the sun. Houses angled so that the front and back run north and south (at least up here in Wisconsin) take advantage of natural lighting without being subjected to the hot summer sun and cold winter winds. Plus this alignment is best for solar panels if you want to go that route.
When it comes to your heating and cooling, you can also use heavy curtains to block out the hot summer sun and keep the cold winter air out. Again, helping save energy and money, and it’s a change you don’t have to think about once it’s done.
And, of course, if you want to get highly renewable, think about solar panels, geothermal heating/cooling, and wind turbines. All of these things can help create renewable energy for your home and not use up too many natural resources.
These are some of the things that I have thought of to help keep our planet healthy for generations to come and I’m putting into practice almost all of them. (Can’t change my house location and don’t have solar energy yet). Hopefully this earth day you can do your part and make a lifestyle change to keep our planet green.