3 Steps to Going Green At Home

3 Steps to Going Green At Home

by Monica Sanders, December 2009

For one day a year, we take a global holiday of sorts and everyone renews their promise to be better stewards of the Earth. Just as New Year's resolutions come to pass, some Earth day promises become too hard to keep and fade away over time.

Here are a few ways to go about your business at home and work without being hard on the world around you.

What's on your plate?

One place to start thinking about your mark on the earth is the plate in front of you. Make sure the fruits and vegetables you eat are grown locally. Because of the advent of commercial farms, many food items are shipped over long distances. The farther food travels, the more energy it uses. The average apple or orange consumed on the East Coast has traveled at least 2,000 from where it was harvested and uses 17 times the amount of fuel as locally grown produce. In addition, large amounts of pesticides and preservatives have to be used to keep them from spoiling during the journey. To find locally grown foods, look for cooperatives, farmer's markets, or learn what is in season and buy only seasonal foods at your usual grocer.

Consider going meatless at least once a week. This saves on the fuel costs of transporting meat, as well as the energy costs of producing it. Lowering the global consumption of meat also means less opportunity for diseases like the avian flu, which has costs society billions, to spread.

Clean up behind yourself

Besides eating earth friendly, you can also keep the planet clean by recycling at home and at work, and reusing plastic containers. Or, you could skip using paper and plastic altogether. Use tableware to eat your meals at home. If your workplace has a kitchen, take your own coffee mug and plates to work with you and just wash them. You can add a bit of glamour to meal times while saving on production and cutting on deforestation.

Another way to "not use" rather than reuse is to borrow books and media from the library to help save on paper, ink, and the energy costs associated with printing. Send more emails! Going paperless or sending documents electronically rather than printing one day a week can save hundreds of dollars in energy and supply costs over the course of a year.

Don't be a hazard

While computers and cell phones can do almost anything these days, they cannot dispose of themselves properly. Many of them contain dangerous heavy metals, like mercury, which means they have to be disposed of as hazardous materials.

Electronics are not the only common items that can be toxic. Many detergents, cleaning supplies, and even some hair products contain ammonia and lye that can end up in the water supply. There are a number of companies that make household and personal care items that are non-toxic, natural, and in some cases, organic. You can find them at organic or natural stores and some department stores (Target, Wal-Mart). Lotions, shampoos and makeup are also available in eco-friendly form. Aveda has been a longtime producer of all-natural products. Carol's Daughter and Juice Beauty, to name a couple, have entered the organic personal care and makeup markets. Essentially, you can look and smell good while being good to the earth.

Remember the basics

While there are many new ways to stay green, the advice you have heard for years still rings true. Invest in companies that invest themselves in helping the earth, like alternative fuel producers. If your broker does not have information, check online at www.socialinvest.org.

Get rid of your incandescent light bulbs, traditional showerheads, and high flow toilets. The energy saving versions of these items, not only save energy and water, they save on utility costs. Walk and take public transportation to do your part in reducing air pollution.

Whether you try something new or go with what you've always known, every small step in keeping your promise to be 'green' is a big help.