Eco-friendly and green living are terms that we all hear about quite often. We grew up being taught that pollution, litter, and greenhouse gases are all bad for the Earth. But even as we are told these things, how many really understand what is actually being discussed? You may even be asking, ‘What does that have to do with my lifestyle? I’m just one person, I can’t make that big of a difference!’
Environmental awareness and our personal impact on the planet is gaining more attention. We are becoming more aware of our ecological footprint and the lasting impact our lifestyles are leaving for future generations to have to deal with. We live in a wasteful society. There is a surplus of things around us. People don’t think twice about tossing objects because they no longer suit their desires. There is always something else readily available to take its palace. This can be interpreted to fit many aspects of our lives, but I’m focusing on how it affects our planet.
I’m an advocate for going green and reducing our eco-footprint. With that being said, I am far from perfect too. But I am becoming more aware of what I am doing, and how I can do things differently without drastically changing my life and that of my family. A big part of our lifestyle is about comfort, and often we aren’t willing to change how we do something because it may make our lives more difficult. Sometimes it’s just that we are too uncomfortable admitting something needs to change in the first place.
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When I was studying interior design, a part of my course involved learning about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and environmentally friendly designs. It fascinated me! This whole segment of the design industry is dedicated to making changes in the way buildings are created, supplies are sourced, and wastes are dealt with. There are councils, accredited programs, and resources if you know where to look for them! It was at this time that I took more of an interest in how I could adopt greener habits in my life and do my part. We are all only here for a short time, but that doesn’t mean we need to leave a mess for our children to deal with. Especially when we know better and can do something about it.
When I was at my first Interior Design Show, I purchased a pocket-sized guide on how to be more eco-friendly. It is called The Little Green Book Of The Home by Sarah Callard. This was the first stepping stone on my green journey. I took a lot of those suggestions to heart. Some are simple enough changes that anyone can adopt. They won’t dramatically change your lifestyle and yet, by implementing those small changes, you can dramatically change your eco-footprint.
Easy Eco-Friendly Solutions
There are so many ways that you can help, even just a little bit. Any extra effort on your part combines with the extra effort by your neighbour, and the next person, etc until you are actually making a large difference with that one change. One change! Here are a few of my favourite eco-friendly solutions that are easy to start now!
1. Light Bulbs:
Update your old light bulbs to LED! CFL’s (compact fluorescent lights) were once recommended as the upgrade from incandescent, but that was 10 years ago and we now know that LED’s are safer for the environment. Not only do they last longer, but they also save energy! A little extra money back into my pocket every year is a good incentive for me! Also, a lot of stores offer rebates throughout the year for purchasing LED bulbs.
2. Turn Off The Lights:
This one is slightly a no-brainer. Conserve energy and energy costs by shutting off the light when you leave a room. If there is no one using the space, why keep it unnecessarily lit? If it’s not serving a purpose then turn it off!
3. Unplug It:
Going along with #2 is unplugging unused items. Even though your phone charger isn’t being used, it is still using energy just by remaining plugged in. If you aren’t using something regularly, then unplug it. It will take 2 seconds to plug it back in again when you do go to use it. Also, it’s not safe to leave plugged in cords around kids for them to take an interest in.
4. No Straw:
They say that there are over 500 million straws used daily in North America. If more people started requesting no straws in their drinks while dining out, can you imagine how quickly the number of saved straws would add up? That’s one less item being used once and discarded into landfills or oceans by the millions! There is a movement for this called The Last Plastic Straw. I have reusable metal straws to use at home. You can also take them with you! While you are at it, consider where else you can cut out plastic waste.
5. Plastic Bags:
You can see them floating around highways, stuck in trees, and discarded in back alleys. Plastic does not decompose so try to eliminate your plastic bag usage as much as possible. I keep reusable shopping bags in my car, one in my purse, and I’ve started using silicone bags or reusable containers instead of single-use plastic snack bags. They still seem to multiply at home though. Many cities have had to stop recycling plastic bags. And a lot of places are starting to ban single-use plastics; Canada is now included on that list. A lot of mass-market stores will have a plastic bag drop off that you can return your bags at. Make use of those and switch to cloth bags! If you are being overrun with plastic bags at home, try to reuse them as garbage bags, lunch bags, for crafts, etc.
6. Paper towels:
These not only add to landfills, but they are a waste of money too. Stock up on some great quality microfiber cloths to wipe up spills, and clean your house with! I have multiple clothes from Norwex and their enviro cloth line. These cloths have silver built into them so that they sterilize themselves after use. Instead of pushing bacteria around on surfaces, these microfibers actually attract and lift them off my counters. Cleaner and less paper waste! By the way, this great company is a direct sale business so make sure to find a local consultant to support!
7. Air Fresheners:
I was a big fan of wax melters. I actually still have a few around my house. They replaced aerosol air fresheners which pollute the air with artificial fragrance. And no one really knows what “fragrance” is made of. If you are using candles please make sure that they don’t contain lead or formaldehyde. Soybean and beeswax candles are natural and safe! I choose to use pure essential oils in my home. I either mix them with solid coconut oil and use that in my scent warmers or I use them in essential oil diffusers. Another option that has started to emerge is rechargeable diffusing fans such as Airmoji, another direct sales business. These are great for homes with kids as the fragrances are from essential oil pods, and don’t rely on heating, steaming, or burning anything. Essential oils are also great for mixing up your own natural cleaners! Just make sure you are getting pure essential oils from a reliable source instead of diluted or perfumed oils trying to pass as natural products.
8. Natural Cleaning:
I’ve changed the cleaners used in my home so they are friendlier to my household occupants, including the pets. By doing so, I am reducing the toxic chemicals used in my house and keeping them from polluting the environment. You can use natural products such as baking soda, vinegar, and water in numerous ways for cleaning! Recipes are fairly easy to find now too if you aren’t sure where to start. Essential oils are great for mixing up natural cleaners or adding scent to your cleaning solutions.
There are recycling options available for most products nowadays. Paper and pop cans are easy, but it doesn’t end there. You can recycle certain plastics, computers, printers, paints and batteries. You can even donate cabinets and furniture for reuse. Most cities have a salvage location for household donations. If you are looking for an inexpensive product, there is nothing wrong with second-hand finds! You’re doing it for the environment!
10. Quality Over Quantity:
We live in a time where everything is disposable. We don’t think twice about tossing something in the garbage and then running to the store to replace it. Not many items are repaired, patched, or re-purposed. Although I have seen growth in the concept of re-purposing and refinishing old items to give them new life. In fact, I participate in a series called Less Is More where, once a month, we share our thrift-flip, budget-friendly, and easy DIY home decor ideas to show you how you can get more from your home decor for less. I love this idea and embrace the movement in my home. Invest in great quality products wherever you can. They may cost more initially but it saves down the road when you aren’t having to replace them every two years. Find lasting decor items that you love instead of collecting trendy ones that you will get rid of next season. Not only will you feel better about your space, but it’s easier on your wallet too!
Change Is Good
These are just a few simple ways you can start changing your ecological footprint now. There are a ton of ways you can live an eco-friendly lifestyle and many ways you can change your home to be eco-friendly too. Trying to lead a less-disposable life doesn’t have to be difficult. When we consume less, we not only save money, but we help our planet. The goal is to reduce the amount of mass marketed products with short lifespans being designed. Businesses will have to shift their focus and put more thought into the environmental impact of their products.
I challenge you to adopt even one of the concepts above. You will see that it doesn’t diminish the life you lead, but enhance the lives of yourself and others by doing it. And you’ll feel great knowing that you are helping to preserve our planet. By looking at the big picture, you can see that yes, you do make a difference. Please don’t be indifferent.
Leave a comment with your ideas on how to go green effortlessly! I’d also love to hear which of these changes you are following in an effort to be more eco-friendly!