I have tried to be “green” all of my adult life — driving fuel-efficient cars, taking public transportation when I could, recycling, minimizing my use of household chemicals, eating organic or pesticide-free foods. But, at times in the past, I slacked off in certain areas because it took too much time, space and effort. For example, my town didn’t used to have recycling collection, so I would have to store newspapers, cans and bottles until I had enough to justify the trek to the collection center. I used to belong to food co-ops, which required monthly time and energy commitments, in order to get decent prices on organic foods. And there was a time when I had to mail-order compact flourescent bulbs and recycled paper products, as they weren’t available locally. However, over the years, as green products and services have become more common, I have found that being green becomes easier and easier.
Here are 7 easy green practices, which I have found take very little extra effort:
1) Replace your regular light bulbs with compact flourescents (available in Home Depot and many other easily-accessible stores). While it is important to not throw away your used flourescents (they contain mercury, so can’t just be thrown out), I have never had to throw one out (and some of mine are over 15 years old!).
2) Buy 100% recycled toilet paper, paper napkins and paper towels (it is better to use cloth, but if that doesn’t work for you, 100% recycled is best). Marcal is a common brand that is made from 100% recycled, 60% post-consumer paper. It is easily found in grocery stores, as well as Staples.
3) Keep a supply of reusable bags in your car. Most grocery stores carry them for $1 or less, and some will give you a 5 or 10 cent credit each time you use one. Most large stores now offer their own branded reusable bags. Be sure to use your bags in any situation where a store might give you plastic.
4) Donate your old books and clothes to Goodwill or some other charitable collection center. Why add them to landfills when they could be used by someone else?
5) Replace your dishwashing and laundry detergents with biodegradable, earth-friendly brands. Most grocery stores now carry green products by brands like Seventh Generation.
6) Use waxed paper bags for sandwiches rather than plastic. Or better yet, invest in reusable sandwich bags, like those carried by 4 Girls Designs.
7) Purchase organic and locally-produced foods. Many stores now have store-brand organics, which do not cost more than name-brand non-organic products. And seasonal, locally-grown produce is abundant and well-priced.
This article originally appeared in my blog, Becoming Your StellarSelf