by Jennifer Fontaine – Do you ever feel weighed down by your environmental footprint, but then get overwhelmed with taking that all-important first step to a greener, more sustainable life, not just for your health, but for the environment?
Research already tells us that green dwellings, particularly those that make use of efficient and natural light, have a positive impact on the mental health of the people that live and work there. Of course, mental health can be a tough thing to scientifically measure, but studies have consistently shown us that green home dwellers experience a special kind of happiness that comes with knowing their home has less impact on the environment.
Eco-Guilt /?eko gilt/
1. That tiny voice in your head that relentlessly reminds you your eco-friendly efforts fall short and no matter how hard you try, it’s never enough.
We’re going to help you set realistic sustainability goals, guide you to take eco-friendly action within your own home, encourage your tribe to join in, and most importantly how to tell that little voice inside your head to go take a hike. So, don’t stress yourself out over the eco-guilt just take the big leap.
The best thing you can do is to make as many eco-friendly changes as you can without infringing on your daily life. It is more important to make fewer changes and stick to them than to have a list that you never complete. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do or change to go green in your life, so you can save the planet, save some money, and go green.
Go Green Around The House
1. Installing a programmable thermostat is a great way to go green and save money each year. These eco friendly systems are able to cycle off when you are out and maintain the desired temperature when you’re home. They learn your habits and keep you comfortable while saving you money at the same time. The best deal out there that we’ve been able to find is the Honeywell 5-2 Day programmable thermostat.
2. Ceiling fans use 10% of the energy that air conditioning units do and can keep a room cool. In the winter, you can use reverse-direction settings to bring warm air down from the ceiling. By cutting down on AC/heat usage you save money and energy. The Hunter Deluxe 5-Blade reviews are consistently outstanding.
3. Place eco friendly power strips around your home to cut off power when you do not need it. Even when you take the device off the charger, it continues to pull energy from outlets, so power strips help ensure you only use what you need. The APC 8-Outlet Surge Protector is a beast that also includes two USP charging ports.
4. Go Green by using a vacuum that has a HEPA filter because they capture particles more efficiently and remove more allergens and contaminants from the air, keeping you healthier. The Shark DuoClean is best in class for affordability.
Go Green In the Kitchen
5. Make the most of your freezer space. Not only is a packed freezer good for saving time, money, and stress when getting meals ready, it’s also a great way to go green and save energy. Most people do not realize it takes more energy to cool an empty space, so keep that freezer full.
6. When it comes to washing dishes, skip the sink. Dishwashers use half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than washing by hand.
7. Give your fridge a little more room because when it is backed up tight against a wall, circulation is limited which makes the unit work harder. By keeping it a few inches from the wall, you save energy and money.
Go Green In the Bathroom
8. Get rid of the vinyl shower curtains and use eco-friendly cloth, bamboo or PVC-free plastic. Vinyl emits many harmful chemicals into the air as well as an unpleasant odor. Home Dynamix has some stunning, nature-inspired, all-cotton shower curtains to inspire your bathroom.
9. Check your soap ingredients because anti-microbial soaps with triclosan and triclocarban are actually more harmful than good. These soaps are no better at washing away germs and can contribute to allergies, hormone disruption, and weakened muscles.
10. Go green by taking shorter showers. You not only save money but you prevent your skin from getting too dried out. Better yet, install a shower head with a water flow restrictor.
11. Fix your leaky toilet because these leaks waste up to 200 gallons of water a day. A handy way to test for a leak is to drop a little food coloring in the tank and if it shows up in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak.
Go Green In the Garden
12. Don’t be overly obsessive about the lawn. Go green by letting it grow 2 or 3 inches instead of constantly trimming it. Higher grass blades keep weeds at bay and allow roots to grow deeper making your lawn better able to withstand droughts. You can conserve water and you don’t have to worry about spending money on weed treatments.
13. Water your plants in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Heat will evaporate the water quicker and you end up using more than necessary.
14. Add eco friendly mulch to the base of all plants and trees because it slows the rate at which water evaporates, keeps weeds away, and adds nutrients to the soil.
Green Up Your Electronics
15. Check your TV settings. Most televisions have screen settings in the shop to make them stand out, but this is way brighter than you need. Go green by setting to a ‘normal’ or standard setting to save energy.
16. Let your video games sleep. These electronics consume large amounts of energy even when turned off so look for the ‘sleep’ mode that allows it to power down after a certain amount of inactivity.
Green Up Your Pets
17. Choose eco-friendly spot-on flea medications instead of collars for your pets because they contain harmful pesticides which are carcinogenic to humans.
Green Up Your Car
18. Use the car wash instead of washing your car at home because it uses much less water. If you must wash your car at home, go green by doing so on the grass or gravel to prevent too much runoff as this may potentially end up back in the drinking water.
19. Switch things up by walking or biking to work or consider carpooling. This is a great way to go green and saves on gas as well as air pollution.
| Related : Kid’s Bike Buying Guide |
20. Follow the rules and obey the speed limit. Not only because you want to avoid a ticket, but because aggressive driving considerably lowers your gas mileage.
21. Make your own eco-friendly cleaning products for the house with a simple water and vinegar solution. This way you can go green by avoiding the potentially harmful chemicals present in store bought cleaning products.
22. Create a safer eco-friendly bug spray. In the event you get any pesky visitors, use a mixture of water and soap to kill them and remove their chemical trails. Bug sprays from the store contain organophosphates which are known to cause acute poisoning.
| Related: Proven Picaridin Bug Spray Review |
23. Eco friendly reusable bags are the way to go green and most stores have them now. Keep some stashed at home and in the car so you always have them with you. The ChicoBag VITA Reusable Shopping Bag (pictured above) is just about the cutest bag we’ve seen around.
24. Trade in your plastic wrap for Bee’s Wrap, the natural alternative to plastic wrap for food storage.
25. Choose an eco friendly aluminum or stainless steel sports bottle over plastic. The rule of thumb is that if you can squeeze it, it is likely made of BPA-containing polycarbonate, which leaks chemicals known to damage your endocrine system. If you don’t feel like wading through the sea of water bottles out there, check out our portable water bottle buying guide.
Green Up Your Diet
26. Go local, whether it is for shopping or eating out. Local places have fresher foods which offers you more nutritious meals and you reduce pollution and energy that is needed for transportation.
27. Buy fresh food rather than frozen dinners. Microwave dinners and other processed foods not only give you unwanted calories but the packaging ends up being wasteful.
28. Eat grass-fed beef which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and are less likely to carry food borne pathogens like E.coli.
29. Buy eco friendly, shade grown coffee. These beans don’t require the cutting down of rainforests nor do they use pesticides and chemicals. Most stores and coffee shops will have at least one of these types on offer, so go green, protect your health and the environment with shade-grown coffee. The Organic Coffee Co. takes it a notch above with their Community aid program, which has restored thousands of acres of rainforest by farming only with shade grown farms.
8 Bonus Tips from our Outdoorsy Friends:
Karen of Play Outside Guide loves the Aventura clothing line (check out this gorgeous woman’s poncho made with 55% organic cotton!) as well as Ecoths (we love their Men’s Barrett sweater made with 100% cotton!). Double bonus: Ecoths donates 3 meals to the needy for every item purchased.
Susan over at Mountain Mom & Tots has another 50 awesome ways for you and your family to go green this year.
Maman on the Trail blogger, Monica put together a fairly comprehensive list of 88 ways that her family has “gone green” in their lives.
Jennifer Fontaine is the founder of Outdoor Families Magazine, publisher of MommyHiker.com, a blog to encourage outdoor activities with children, and an activist filmmaker inspiring dynamic change in the world. She lives in Southern California with her family.