Green living is not only the “buzz” right now but is something that everyone should be pursuing. Not only because we need to correct the mistakes of man’s greed, but because it is the way things were intended by our Creator. Since there are no specific standards that define eco-terms like “organic”, “natural”, “pure”, fragrance-free” and “healthy” many companies often use these words for marketing purposes to gain advantage. Don’t be fooled by products that “look or sound” green. Read labels carefully and research ingredients that are not familiar to you. Remember that just because something begins with a plant or natural ingredient doesn’t mean that the end result is really “green”. The processes involved in getting from the beginning to the end can involve chemicals and toxic substances. Research “green” products and buy from those that are truthful in their advertising practices.
Green living is not only good for the planet but also helps to ensure a healthy environment for our children and their children. Hopefully future generations will look back with thankfulness because of how we taught their parents, by example, the importance of responsibility in preserving our living environments and the planet.
How about adding health and wellness to all your green living endeavors? Below I offer a list of 10 Green Living Recommendations you can begin to implement in your home that will not only save money, but also will help to promote a healthier lifestyle. We all need help with that! Start today and include your children on the journey to eco-friendly living and good health. Children learn what they see practiced, so be a model teacher!
10 Green Living Recommendations
Green Living: Change your daily commute and errands.
- Walk, car-pool or even bike to work and save money on the ever-increasing gas and parking prices. The physical part will improve your heart health and reduce the risk of obesity. Instead of driving around a parking spot looking for the “perfect space”, park in a space that is far away from the store and walk. You will save gas and get some exercise.
- If you live an extended distance from your workplace, investigate the option of working from home several days per week. Educate your boss about the possible money the company could save. Americans use about 385 million gallons of gasoline every day, which means more than a gallon of gasoline every day for every man, woman and child!
Green Living: Purchase “gently” used.
- If you have recently moved into a new home or are looking to redecorate or up-date, check-out craigslist, local garage sales, flee markets, thrift stores or FreeSharing for furniture, clothing, appliances, draperies and lawn equipment rather than purchasing new. Repurposing old furniture into the new shabby-chic is popular today in the decorating world.
- Be creative in gift giving, including making homemade gifts (especially from your kitchen), donating or even re-gifting. Try to gift in a “green and healthy” manner.
Green Living: Buying Local = the “new” organic.
- Ditch the local grocery stores full of pre-packaged, genetically modified and chemical-laden food and, instead, frequent your local farmers’ market. Even though the offerings may be a bit more expensive, the products will be of a higher quality and more conducive to good health–and you will be helping to support and sustain local farming. Better yet, making a visit to local farms will allow you to understand “how” they are growing their produce and animals. Buying locally produced goods also saves energy by reducing the fossil fuels that are needed to transport food and other items across the country and the world.
- Start a local co-op program in your area. This will encourage healthy buying and bulk purchases which will save money, time and gas by eliminating frequent trips to the grocery store.
- Create a “Green Closet” in your home to store natural and green items purchased in bulk. Type up an inventory list and place it on the inside of the door. Make off items as they are used then use this list to replace needed items.
Green Living: Learn how to Compost and Garden.
- Composting assists in reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. This will definitely save money, especially if you live in an area with a “pay as you throw” system. In the process, healthy fertilizer is created for your garden, flower beds or flower/vegetable pots. Don’t have a yard or space for a compost pile? Try your hand at indoor ‘vermiculture,’ or worm composting.
- Use organic and non-toxic ingredients on your lawn and garden. More than 80% of the most commonly-used pesticides today have been classified by National Academy of Sciences researchers as potentially carcinogenic, and are routinely found in mothers’ milk. If you do not have the room for a garden, learn how to container garden. Be sure to include medicinal herbs in your garden.
Green Living: Green Living Helps Save on Home Utilities.
- Modify your thermostat settings and install energy saving appliances. Setting your home thermostat several degrees lower in the winter and several degrees higher in the summer can amount to significant savings on utility costs.
- Keep your head out of the refrigerator and the door closed! The refrigerator is the single biggest energy-consuming kitchen appliance, and opening the refrigerator door accounts for between $30 and $60 of a typical family’s electricity bill each year. The amount of energy saved in a year by more efficient refrigerator usage could be enough to light every house in the United States for more than four and a half months straight. Source: Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigen, authors of The Green Book.
- Install low-flow, long life shower filters. Take shorter showers to save water and the energy used to heat it. Buy a small timer for each bathroom and instruct family members to try to master a three-minute shower. Research the cost/savings of installing a solar hot water heater on your property. A family of four using low-flow shower heads instead of full-flow models can save about 20,000 gallons of water per year.
- US states are continually dealing with clean water shortages. Yet the average American uses more than 100 gallons or water each day.
- Wash laundry in cold water whenever possible and use a drying rack or outside clothesline.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with longer-lasting, low-energy fluorescent bulbs. If every American replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), the energy saved could light more than 2.5 million homes for a year.
- Consider buying wind energy from your local utility or purchasing renewable energy offsets. In some instances, “green energy” alternatives can be cheaper than electricity from standard sources. Install eco-friendly ceiling fans in bedrooms, living areas and kitchen and use them! Keep your air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees or higher and keep the fans running. You will save electricity and still be comfortable.
Green Living: Ban bottled water.
Buy water filters or carafes for your purified water rather than buying bottled water packaged in plastic. Not only is bottled water expensive and possibly unhealthy, but it produces large amounts of container waste and harmful plastics. Approximately 2.7 billion TONS of plastic is produced each year for the bottled water industry. 86% of this ends up in landfills! Not to mention that the plastic may be leaching chemicals that are very harmful to your health.
Green Living: Learn how to make your own cleaning supplies.
Simple and natural ingredients such as baking soda, soap, and vinegar, allows you to make cheap, easy, natural and non-toxic cleaning products that work. This translates into a savings of money, time, and the air quality of your home. It may also cut down on allergies which will save money on doctor’s visits.
Green Living: Reconsider purchasing new electronics.
- The e-waste from discarded cell phones, computers and electronics is a growing environmental concern. Heaps of electronic refuse are now shipped abroad illegally for ‘disassembly’ by workers who have little protection from the mercury and other harmful materials they contain.
- Try to make a conscious effort to keep electronics as long as is feasible and disposing of them responsibly.
- Purchase higher-quality products when money will allow. Do your research and don’t allow a sales person to affect what you purchase. Know what is truth and what is fiction by taking the time to educate yourself.
- Recycle your cell phone by giving it to an organization or person who needs a cell phone.
Green Living: Implement three meatless meals per week.
- Certainly vegetarianism isn’t recommended for everyone, but even the most devout meat-lovers can cut back on meat consumption without much effort–and thus save money in the process. The explosion of factory farms is very damaging to the environment and creates stress on the animals with puts more hormones into their meat. Grocery store meat contains added hormones and antibiotics which is not healthy for you or your family.
- Using local and organically grown fruits and vegetables for salads and “meat-less” meals will improve your health. Preparing beans and vegetable soups are satisfying and great on the pocketbook. Check our the the OAWHealth Blog Recipes Section for more recipe ideas.
Green Living: Make your Workspace Green and Healthy.
- Keep small plants around your office. They help to clean the air and provide a soothing “natural-look” to the office environment. Ivy’s, spider plants and closet plants do well in lower light while keeping the air clean and green.
- Un-plug your office equipment at night. Using a power surge protector allows machines to be switched off or on very quickly. Three-billion dollars is wasted in electricity annually for office machines left running when not in use!
- Move to using a staple-less stapler. 120 tons of steel would be saved if everyone used just ONE LESS staple every day for a year.
- The average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of copy paper each year. Learn to PDF your documents and distribute them electronically. Half of the forests that originally covered 48% of the Earth’s land surface are now gone. Only 1/5th of the Earth’s original forests remain pristine and undisturbed.
- Bring your lunch to work in a cloth bag. For food storage use glass containers that can be washed and re-used. This saves from using Styrofoam and plastic containers from fast food restaurants AND a homemade lunch will likely improve your health in many ways.
- Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors, where indoor air is often 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Air pollution from cars, factories and power plants is a major cause of asthma attacks. More than half of the U.S. population lives in areas with poor air conditions, and studies suggest that “sick air” contributes to the development of asthma in previously healthy people. Install a small ionic air purifier in your office to help clean the air of viruses, germs and bacteria.
- Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave your office. Or better yet, ask your company to install switches that automatically turn off when no movement is detected in a certain amount of time. Daily building operation (lighting, electricity, heating, and cooling of homes, offices, and schools) accounts for more than one-third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
- For more suggestions on making your office healthy see my article – 10 Smart Tips for a Green & Healthy Office
Grow at least one heirloom herb this year! – The importance of preserving our seeds is quickly becoming urgent! Chemical companies are continuing to adulterate our seed supply through genetically modification tactics and the use of herbicides and pesticides. I provide a list of heirloom seed companies in which you can buy heirloom seeds. Use open-pollinated heirloom seeds that are organic and not genetically modified. Gather seeds after each season for use the next year.
Up-grading Your Home? Go Green! – When up-grading or repairing your home, search for products and materials that are helping to improve the environment. Roofing, landscaping, flooring, carpeting, paint, decking and fixture products can be found that are “green” and thus help to eliminate harmful toxins and chemicals as well as save you money. Search out eco-friendly merchants every time you replace anything in your home!
Got Pets? Go Green! – The Environmental Working Group found 35 toxic chemicals in dogs and 46 in cats – most at even higher levels than are found in people. 63% of homes in the US have pets. Look for all-natural foods for your pets and educate yourself about a raw food diet for your pets. Make sure that you vacuum often thus ditching the chemical flea collars. Purchase biodegradable, compostable doo-bags for use when walking your dog. Use all-natural grooming products for your pets that are made without harmful chemicals. Purchase bedding that is organic and eco-friendly.