5 Baby Steps for Becoming Green

treesteps[sniplet tweetright]So everyone’s going green, right? Not necessarily. Most of us want to go green, but it seems like a big deal to get started, and what exactly does going green mean? If you’re still not convinced, check out this post: 12 Reasons Everyone Should Care About the Environment.

More often than not, going green is a kind of mental shift, when you start incorporating environmental responsibility into your daily life. Of course, everyone starts out small and slowly builds his/her environmental awareness with practice. If you’re a going green newbie, or even if you’ve been going green for awhile now, here are your 5 first baby steps to get you started.

#1 Recycle

Recycling is your first step (see this article on why you should recycle). By recycling, we’re cutting down on waste and lowering the demand for the materials that originally made the items that we are recycling. Start by recycling at home. Many municipalities and waste collection agencies already include recycling pickup — so read up on their requirements and get a recycling bin to make sure you’re using what’s available to you. If recycling isn’t included in your waste collection, see if you can switch companies or add on recycling as a service. If that’s not feasible, save your recycling and drop it off at a recycling center. You can find a list of local recycling centers here.

Advanced Tip:

Try adding more items to your recycling repertoire, such as ink jet cartridges and batteries. While curbside recycling won’t usually recycle these items, you can often bring them to local office supply stores that have recycling programs. So start a small bin now and make it a new habit.

#2 Invest in Some Sweaters

Make sure you have a comfy and warm sweater and turn down the thermostat for the winter. A few degrees makes a huge difference in the amount of energy you’ll use on your heating. For those warmer climates, keep your air conditioner a few degrees higher. You might also want to grab a programmable thermostat that will let you program different times of the day to be different temperatures — do you really need to heat the house that high when you’re not even in it?

Advanced Tip:

Weatherproof your home to prevent warm air from escaping and make sure all of your air conditioning and heating ducts aren’t blocked. For more home-money saving tips, check out this post.

#3 Use the Reusable Bags

If you’re not yet using reusable grocery bags, grab a couple now. I originally started using them because it made sense to stop wasting hundreds of plastic bags every month, but I’ve found that there’s an even better personal benefit: they’re easier to use! They don’t split and drop your groceries like the typical plastic bags, many of them have handles long enough to put them over your shoulder, and if you’re carrying them by the handles, they don’t cut into your skin. Plus, a lot of them are really very cute.

Advanced Tip:

Get reusable produce/snack bags too instead of using the thin plastic bags to put your almonds and apples in. Or, if you still have a ton of those plastic bags, reuse them for your produce.

#4 Cut Down on Water Waste

There isn’t just one trick here to cutting down water waste. The collective efforts of conserving water, however, do add up substantially. Some basic items are to wash all of your clothing in cold water and don’t do a wash until you can do a full load. Use the dishwasher and run it when it has a full load. Make sure you don’t have any leaks in your plumbing or your toilet bowl. And cut your showering time, try it by cutting it by just a minute to get started.

Advanced Tip:

Start a rain barrel outside and use it to water your plants.

#5 Cut Your Trash Waste

Cutting waste will not only make the landfills grow at a slower rate, but it will also prevent those materials from being produced in the first place, which will cut energy use overall. Try to cut down what you throw into the trash (and recycling) bin. Use a reusable water bottle to prevent excess plastic usage. Grab some rags to do the cleaning instead of a full roll of paper towels. Don’t buy too much produce or food stuffs that will go bad before you can use them. Try not to print anything you don’t need. Chances are you can cut your waste production by half rather easily.

Advanced Tip:

Start a compost for all of the food stuffs that you can’t use or that are left on your plate. If you garden, you’ll have the added benefit of some great nutrients for your soil.

What’s the first thing you did?

Do you remember when you first started consciously thinking of reducing your environmental impact? What did you start with? Did you recycle, compost, ride a bike instead of driving? Let us know in the comments!

3 Replies to “5 Baby Steps for Becoming Green”

  1. I’ve had a bike for a while, but have felt really good about myself for breaking it out and taking it to the grocery store with my reusable bags.

    The tricky part is the balancing act the ride home!

  2. I started going green by recycling, and advocating my friends to recycle. I mean, it’s one of the easiest things you can do, and it’s very beneficial. At the most, you have to go out of your way to the recycling bin instead of the trash can. It’s easy, but effective.

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