My green journey began about 12 years ago. In retrospect my green journey really began well before then. I was doing quite a few things that were green, but I wasn’t doing them because they were green. I was biking to work, turning off the lights in my apartment and buying produce from local farmers markets. My reason for doing these things were probably motivated by finances and convenience rather than a conscious green effort, but nonetheless they were the actions that led me on my green path. Over the years I have continued to make small and manageable changes in my life and hope to continue to do so.
We all have to begin somewhere and that somewhere can sometimes be overwhelming. If you’re new to the “going green” movement and you don’t know where to begin-this article is for you. Or maybe you’ve already begun greening your life and you’re stuck; not knowing what to do next-this is for you too. It’s even for those of us who have fully embraced living green. We ALL need reminders and tips now and again.
If I were to begin my green journey all over again I would start with these 5 simple steps:
- Start to phase out plastics in your home-especially those that come in contact with food. Plastic and food just don’t belong together. There are so many toxic chemicals in plastic that can leach into your food. The production of plastic is hurting our environment. Plastic ends up in our water ways and landfills, killing wildlife and not decomposing.
- Make the switch to reusable bags. The next time you visit the supermarket bring along reusable bags. Leave them in the front seat of your car so you remember them. For those visits to the mall or pharmacy carry a smaller version in your bag or backpack.
- Change over to non-toxic cleaning products. As your cleaning products run out consider replacing them with a non-toxic alternative. Make your own. There are plenty of DIY recipes out there for making your own. The Smart Mama has some great recipes if you want to give it a try. Buy safer, non-toxic cleaning supplies. Try to find brands that don’t contain harsh chemicals such as ammonia, synthetic fragrance, chlorine bleach, parabens and phosphates. You can find green cleaners at most retailers. Here are a few brands that I like: Seventh Generation, Ecover and Mrs. Meyers.
- Replace your personal care products with safe, non-toxic alternatives. As your shampoo runs out think green. Replace the old with something non-toxic and safe. I check all of my personal care products on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database before use. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve returned a product because it had a high hazard score.
- Leave your shoes at the door. Our country has an obsession with the “perfect lawn” requiring applications of synthetic pesticides that are not only killing weeds and other naturally occurring plants, but are harmful to you and the environment. All of those toxins march right into your living space when you wear your shoes from outdoors into your home. We have declared our home a “shoe free” zone. All shoes come off in the garage and they stay there until the next time we venture out. We try to remind our friends and family to honor our request for a shoeless house and we are grateful that everyone is very respectful. The best solution: how about we all stop using pesticides on our lawns.
For more suggestions on how to begin living a greener, non-toxic life take a look at Healthy Child Healthy World’s 5 Easy Steps Program -a resource to make healthy living more bite-size and practical. Remember: baby steps will get you there and keep in mind the greenest thing you can do is use what you have and replace the old only when needed.
I intentionally didn’t mention anything about food in this post. Start with small, manageable changes and then once you’ve mastered those you can add more. I could easily devote an entire post to how to begin your green journey with food.
What simple, tiny, green tips do you have to share? Where did you/will you begin your green journey?
[Top photo used under Creative Commons from Byrdiegryl/Flickr]