A lot of people resolve to be “more green” when the new year rolls around, but what exactly does that mean, and how can you implement the changes in your life without breaking the bank? We did a quick brainstorming session here at the OMI offices, and here’s what we came up with. Without further ado, we present to you the Top Ten Ways to keep your Green Year’s Resolutions!
Set up a recycling system or ensure your recycling is efficient and organized. This one seems like a no-brainer, and many towns and cities have made it even easier for you. Call your local waste-collection company and find out what tools they have available to help you with your recycling. Many cities offer free tubs for your use, will give you easy guides to tell you how to sort your recycling, and where you can take items that aren’t in your every day recycling (like e-waste and old appliances).
2. Stop buying water bottles.
Invest in reusable water bottles that you can carry with you and install a filter system for your home water. Not only is this a great way to help conserve the planet’s finite water supply, it will end up saving you tons of moolah in the end. Get each member of your family a water bottle that matches their personality and encourage them to take it every where they go!
3. Swap first
Spend less on buying new items and try swapping or exchanging with neighbors and friends. It’s a great way to get “new-to-you” stuff without having to spend the money on it, and no added burden to the planet. You could even start a monthly swap in your neighborhood. Some swapable ideas? Books, lawn equipment, shoes (yay!) kids’ clothing, exercise DVDs…. anything you have (or want).
4. Spend more time outdoors
From quality time with family to exercise… it is free and good for you and the environment. A day-trip to a local park can do wonders for your mental health, and you will feel even better knowing that pushing your kiddos in the swing isn’t taxing the environment.
5. Buy Local Produce
Find out in your community where you can buy locally grown and sustainable produce. Focus your meals around seasonal produce and you can save money, since out-of-season produce will be more expensive. Buying local not only helps sustain your local economy, it lessens the impact the shipping industry has on the environment. Plus, it’s really fun to be able to see where your food actually came from.
6. Plan meals
Thought meal planning went the way of the housewife wearing heels and pearls? Well, think again. Planning meals for the entire week can help cut down the cost of your grocery bill and allow you to use leftovers in new meals, limiting excess and waste. Added bonus: planned out menus mean fewer trips to the market, and who doesn’t love that?
7. Up the efficiency in your home
Unplug unused appliances, switch out old bulbs for longer lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, and install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy (an easy task that even the most inexperienced DIYer can accomplish). If your appliances need an upgrade, be sure to buy EnergyStar models that use less energy to run and lower your operating costs. If your old mattress is giving you problems, make sure you upgrade to a responsibly sourced and organic mattress (of course we suggest an OrganicPedic mattress by OMI).
Put your food waste to work for you. When you compost, not only do you cut down on the amount of garbage headed toward the landfills, you get some great soil out of it. A great tutorial on setting up your compost pile can be found here from John & Sherry at Young House Love. Not sure what’s compostable? Click HERE for a list of 75 things you can compost, but thought you couldn’t.
9. Use earth-friendly cleaners and household products
Back in the day, “earth-friendly cleaners” meant baking soda, vinegar, and a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease. We still love the ease of using items that are most likely already sitting in your cupboards, but we understand that isn’t an option for everyone. When looking for household cleaners, be sure to pick brands that are environmentally friendly, preferably made with organic ingredients. Our sister company, Lifekind, has a great line of Naturally Safer cleaning products, and earth-friendly products are popping up in retail stores across the country. Just beware: not all companies have altruistic intent, and may try to trick you into purchasing their product with the implication of being “green” without actually offering an environmentally friendly product.
10. Go paperless
A lot of big companies are now offering incentives to customers who want to view their statements and pay their bills online. If your local utility company doesn’t offer online bill pay, make sure you call and suggest it to them. Instead of sending printed cards, make use of online greeting cards and evites. Just imagine how much paper and trees would be saved if everyone made this small change to their life. If you absolutely must use paper (for your business, perhaps) be sure to buy paper from sustainably harvested trees.
These ten ideas are just a the begining of hundreds of different ways you can make your life more green. What are your ideas and what has your family implemented to make your 2012 greener than your 2011? Let us know in the comments!
and a Happy Green Year to You!