The other day, my longtime friend KC and I were discussing green ways of living. We both decided that not everyone has the ability, time, motivation or inspiration to compost, garden or create green spaces in their yards.
So, with the help of my friend, I have compiled 10 quick and easy ways in which even the simplest tasks can make a difference in living a greener and healthier life.
1) Wash dishes in a bin: When washing dishes, I use a small bin that fits perfectly in my sink. I put the silverware in first and cover it with a little bit of hot water. I turn the water off while I wash the dishes and then back on again to rinse. When the silverware is finished, I move on to my cups, and then my plates. When all the dishes have been washed, I have a half-full bin of water. Because I use biodegradable soap, I use what's left in the bin to water the plants in my backyard. This way, I am not only saving water, but I am also giving the water back to the earth.
2) Drink water from reusable bottles: Reusable water bottles are handy. Not only is water free; it is also available everywhere. Whenever I have to stop at the gas station, I go inside and fill up my water bottle. It saves space in the landfills and is also a step toward phasing petroleum-based garbage out of our lives.
3) Reuse your coffee mug, too: The only way that I got through the long nights of my college career was to drink a LOT of coffee. I always keep a coffee mug with me at all times because not only will you get a discount; you will also use less Styrofoam.
4) Recycle: Recycling is another easy way to move in a greener direction. Simply take your items to the nearest drop-off center, or you can call for pickup. Here's some information on recycling in Pinellas County.
5) Keep showers short: Whenever I shower, I try to keep it short. When I lived at a base camp in the desert out west, we each got three minutes to shower because water was precious. Water is also precious in Florida, despite its proximity to many water resources. For every minute you are in the shower, you use 7 gallons of our greatest resource. To see how you're using water at home, calculate your household's water usage and get some tips on how to minimize the drain.
6) Close doors: Whenever I leave the house, I try to close all of the doors. That helps blow the cold air into one room, which tells the thermostat that it is not necessary to run all day. The air will be trapped in the rooms that it was intended to cool.
7) Wash larger loads of laundry: Whenever I do laundry, I make sure that my laundry bag is almost bursting at the seams. By washing larger loads, we can save more water, so fill that machine and use the water wisely.
8) Clean with natural products: Whenever my roommate cleans, she uses a good old-fashioned cleaning bucket. Because we only use natural products such as vinegar and essential oils, we can mop every floor in the house and then dump it outside. Again, we're giving the water back to the earth rather then filling it with toxic chemicals and running unnecessary water.
9) Reuse grocery bags: Our household also tries to minimize plastic bag consumption. By leaving reusable bags in my car, I find it easier to remember them when I go grocery shopping. If we do forget to bring our bags, then we simply use the bags (preferably biodegradable ones) for other garbage.
10) Leave messages with less paper: Last but not least, rather than wasting paper and money on sticky notes, I take old scrap paper, cut it into square pieces and finish it with a staple. We also have a dry-erase board to leave ourselves messages and smiley faces. We get the most out of our paper consumption and end up saving a few trees in the process.
With these simple changes, each household has the potential to make a difference in the community and on the Earth. My friend and I have found that others notice how quick and easy these changes are, and they often adopt our good habits. After all, we each have a conscience to deal with, and you know what they say: “Character is defined by who you are when no one is looking.”