Simple Strategies to Show Some Love to Mother Earth
While I’m embarrassed to say it, I was raised in a home where the lights were left on even when nobody was home, and the TV was left on “for the dogs”. So when I reached an age where I was aware of the environment and the ways our choices affected it, I started making more conscious choices to improve MY impact. Because all we can really control is ourselves, right?
I think all too often we decide that it’s someone else’s problem. That our personal choices are insignificant in the overall scheme of things. But that is the exact mentality that has us in the perdicament we’re in!
So here are some simple strategies you can add to your routine with ease to show some love to Mother Earth:
* Bring your own travel mug to the coffee shop. You’ll be doing the Earth a favor, and you might even save a few cents on your latte!
* Use resuable shopping bags. This one is finally becoming more mainstream, with cities like San Francisco leading the charge on banning plastic bags, and many cities following suite. I was thrilled when Austin, where I live, took a stand in March 2013. We all know how terrible plastic bags are for the environment—they choke wildlife, they don’t break down in landfills and they aren’t easy to recycle. Did you know that 90 percent of plastic bags are not recycled even if you put them in your “recycling”? The answer isn’t recycling…it’s to stop using them.
* Ask cashiers to skip printing your receipt if you don’t really need it.
* Use your dryer less. Now that the weather is warming up, you can hang your clothes outside! And when you are using your dryer, use the energy saving mode. It will take a bit longer, but will save energy by using a lower temperature. Also, don’t forget to always clean the lint trap so your dryer can run more efficiently.
* Take saving electricity one step farther…don’t just turn lights off, but unplug appliances when they’re not in use. You’ll save on energy from what’s known as the “vampire effect”. This one was hard for me to get used to when my husband started unplugging everything a few years back, but he just kept at it, and surprise, surprise, I adapted! 😉
* Flush Less. Most toilets use 3.5 gallons of water away with each flush.In our house, we flush for #2, or when there is enough toilet paper to warrant a flush. Simple as that.
* Ditch the brown bag and plastic containers. Reusable containers are easy to come by these days, and there is no reason you can’t have an almost entirely zero waste lunch, if not entirely. While I don’t pack a lunch for myself every day, I do pack 2 kids lunches, and the only time there is anything disposable is when they get fruit leathers. I thought it would be harder, but it’s really not.
* Choose cloth over paper napkins and towels. I cringe when I think about how many paper towels I used to use. We used them as our dinner napkins, to wipe up counters and to clean pretty much the entire house. Yikes. Switching to cloth napkins and towels was such a simple thing to do! Sure it’s a bit extra laundry a week, but compared to the paper consumption, it’s a no-brainer. And always remember when you do your laundry to choose the proper water level for your load.
* Shower smarter. The average shower head spits out 2.5 gallons of water per minute. So if you take a a 10-minute shower every morning, your using over 9,000 gallons of water a year! You can cut back by installing a water saving shower head. And no, this doesn’t mean you’ll have a miserable shower with just a trickle of water! The one we use is by WaterSense, which flows at only 1.5 gallons per minute and conserves up to 40% in water savings.
* Use natural household products. Not only will you decrease your family’s exposure to toxins from things you touch, eat, etc., but you will be doing the Earth a big favor by not adding more chemicals to our already very polluted air and waterways. Natural cleaning products are easy to come by in most grocery stores these days, but there are also easy, cost-effective options likely already in your kitchen like baking soda, vinegar and citrus.
* Compost. If you have a garden, your soil will love your organic coffee grounds, egg shells, fruits and veggies! If you don’t have a garden and have space in your freezer, you can keep your compost in their so it doesn’t smell, and find a local composting site to take it to. This one requires a bit of extra work, but if you want to give some extra TLC to Mother Earth, this is a great way!
You might be thinking that these tips would make such a minor difference that it’s not worth it. This is where you need to think outside of yourself. Think nationally. Think globally. If everyone did even a handful of these things, the impact would be significant. I don’t know about you, but it concerns me that my children will be growing up in a world that is increasingly unconscious and disconnected. We each have a responsibility, and it can start with these simple strategies, today.
I’ll leave you with a great message on one my favorite shirts of my kids:
Happy Earth Day!