Earth Day is this week. This time of year we hear a good game about all things you can do, big and small, to make an impact and reduce your footprint on our planet. I love all the tips, every little bit helps. I especially liked the infographic I am sharing with you below because it highlights ways you can help the earth by doing something you love. Well, something I love anyways. I love to garden and like to spend as much time as possible in my garden…planting, harvesting, cultivating, and enjoying. I love shoveling manure for the compost, I love picking ripe tomatoes, I love watching the bees flock to my flowers. I love all of it so it gives me the warm fuzzies to see just how good for the planet my “hobby” is.
While I love the concept of the graphic below I do not agree with every single item in it…ie petroleum jelly and irish spring are no-no’s for me. We eat from the garden so every single thing I put in it has to be carefully considered. This gives some good get started tips though. Collecting rainwater is so easy and so much better than turning on the hose. Beneficial bugs are important to a healthy garden. Many items in the recycling bin can be reused in the garden and composting is easy and rewarding. Gardening can be more than a hobby and more than a way to feed your family. It is a way to give back a little of what we take from Mother Earth. Enjoy!
Infographic courtesy of RubberMulch.com, a maker of 100% recycled mulch.
We all know there are things we can do, personal changes we can make, to reduce our energy consumption. This is important to eco conscious people everywhere. But perhaps even more important though is the ability to recognize that energy savings technologies may ultimately be even more important than our personal habits and our desire to conserve. Technology keeps getting better and better. New computers, new cars, new smart phones, new TVs, and new tablets are just a few of the items on our holiday wish lists. But, what about these products impacting our energy bills, not to mention, impacting our environment? Maybe we need tech that saves energy???
Many of us have programmable thermostats for instance but smart thermostats may do an even better job. They can tell when no one is in the house and therefore reduce energy consumption when you otherwise would have forgotten to adjust the temperature. LED light bulbs use 90% less energy and last 5 times as long. A single battery may be able to power our homes. Every technology innovation we can make furthers our goal and when you combine that with our personal habits you achieve more in shorter time frame. Everyone needs to support and even demand more investments in energy saving technology.
The impact that future technologies have on saving energy is crucial as there has been an astonishing increase in overall energy consumption since 2000. Finding new ways to save energy at home and on the road is now becoming a primary objective among technology innovators. Whether through the creation of “glow-in-the-dark road markings” or light bulbs that can last up to 50,000 hours.
The infographic below outlines the inventive technological advances that are aimed at helping people save money both on the road and at home. Think a “smart road” is something straight out of 2060? Think again!”
Image from SaveOnEnergy.com
When you think of helping the environment picking the right gym gear is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, but eco friendly gym gear can be a big step towards living a greener existence. Just think about how many people go to gyms each day. Each of those people might be packing a big bag full of stuff that they will use while they are there. Think about all the folks who have home gyms. It really adds up.
Lots of the gym gear you see is made from plastic, even the clothing. While I may not be able to avoid all plastic and other planet-cringing materials, I like to think that you can keep it to a minimum with some careful planning. It also goes to follow that someone who cares about planetary health will also want items that are healthier on a personal level too. The exercise industry has sprung onto the green living bandwagon with aplomb, generating a whole host of eco-friendly equipment and gear that can be used by those who want to integrate green living into every aspect of their lives.
So what eco friendly options can you find to replace the mainstream gym bag and its contents?
The Eco Friendly Gym Bag – If you walk down the isle of a Wal-Mart or a Target to find a gym bag you will like end up with some sort of polyester (from plastic) gym bag. I have avoided this issue by just making do with a reuseable shopping bag I already had. I think it is made of some poly material but it is not new. If I do decide to get another one at some point I already have my eye on one made from recycled materials… this one from Gaiam. To hold wet things like swim suits you could get a wet bag like is used for diapers but I have just opted to wrap my wet stuff in my towel and hang it when I get home.
Organic Towels – If you have any beach towels at home you can just grab one of those to use after some pool time. If not you may want to check into organic beach towels like these from DreamSacks. They are made from bamboo and cotton. If you need something smaller, perhaps for yoga or the treadmill, a small hand towel from your towel closet will work or you can get a small bamboo gym towel.
Sustainable Workout Clothes – Workout clothing that is ‘environmentally conscious’ is widely available now; all it takes is a little research. Keep your eye out for workout clothes made from organic and natural fibers OR recycled materials which are great for removing moisture. A minimal amount of synthetic fibers is preferred but sometimes you need something that wicks better than natural fibers and that is where recycled synthetics come in. Just be aware that synthetic fibers can become really stinky over time.
If you want to take it a step further, check into the businesses that sell or produce the products and make certain that they have sustainable business models and/or fair labor practices that correlate with your own world view. Patagonia and Gaiam are two companies that are known for their eco-friendly practices and ideals. I love yoga pants, which is what I wear. They’re organic!
Eco Gym Shoes – Footwear is another area where you can choose eco-friendly products. The same ideals as those expressed in workout clothing apply, make sure that the products and company fit with your ecological ideals. One that comes to mind is the Green Silence. It is made with soy-based inks and recycled materials. The packaging is also 100% post-consumer recycled. I have read numerous reviews of them and all have been favorable. I also really like barefoot shoes and wrote a whole post about those and Okabashi recycled flip-flops for the gym showers and locker room.
Eco Water Bottles – It’s not cool to drink out of disposable plastic bottles so the best choice will obviously be to get a good reusable bottle. I love my glass water bottles but those aren’t very practical for the gym. This Klean Kanteen Stainless/Bamboo bottle would be awesome for the gym.
Other Stuff – Wood Earbuds and Eco Yoga Mats.
And if you really want to green your gym experience write a letter to management or chat them up while you are there about using green cleaners to sanitize the machines and wash the towels or using less chlorine in the pool. If their customers consistently make these demands they may just rise to the challenge.
How do YOU green your workout routine?
No doubt you have heard by now that some of the popular bottled water brands are actually glorified tap water. There is just nothing like a cold, refreshing bottle of $2.00 tap water right? Not!
Save yourself some money and bottle your own “public water source” water in a nice resuable bottle. I recommend Klean Kanteen or Life Factory. Not only will you stop funding greedy and manipulative corporations you will also help to reduce the amount of plastic bottles entering the market and our landfills.
And if you are worried about the quality of tap water you can always look into a water filtration system for your house or one of those refrigerator water filters and drink your very own “aquafina”.
Do you have an quickie green living tip? Send me a guest post with your tip and I will post it here!
Food waste makes up nearly a third of the trash sent to landfills. This statistic alone gives us pause before we even begin to consider the millions who don’t have enough food to eat. You and your family can help reverse this by making a conscious effort cut down on food waste. With these five steps, you can begin to make a positive dent in an unsavory problem.
1. Shop smart
Plan out your meals for the week before you go grocery shopping. Make a detailed list, and stick to it. Remember to avoid impulse purchases (not shopping while hungry is sure to help) and buy only the exact quantities you’ll need. Purchasing grains and nuts from the bulk bins and only buying loose produce are great ways to cut down on excess. If you’re not sure of the right amount of food to buy, get into the habit of writing down what foods you end up throwing away so you know to avoid buying that much in the future.
2. Preserve food you can’t immediately use
When you shop, pay attention to expiration dates. To keep track in your refrigerator, make a habit of putting the newest foods toward the back of the fridge and moving the older items to the front where you’ll see and use them. If you know you won’t be able to use something before it expires, figure out the best way to preserve it. Store chips, cereal, or other items that have the tendency to go stale, in airtight containers. When fruits start to get too soft, toss them in smoothies, and when greens begin to wilt, add them to soups. You can freeze bread, flash freeze fruits and vegetables, and even take up the vintage arts of canning and pickling to avoid throwing food away.
3. Use your leftovers
Vow to eat your leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, no matter how tempting a trip to the local cafe may be. Consider gifting leftovers from big meals to friends or coworkers if you can’t possibly finish them. Another great idea: Set aside one night a week to make a meal just from food you have in your kitchen – no additional ingredients allowed.
4. Get creative with food scraps
Make produce go further by using all its parts. Stop peeling potatoes, leave the skin on cucumbers, and cook broccoli stems along with the florets. If this isn’t possible, save vegetable peels in a freezer bag, and when the bag is full, make vegetable stock. Pureed vegetable scraps can even be used in vinaigrettes. Take note of what scraps you’re consistently throwing away, and figure out how to reuse them!
When all other methods for reusing your food scraps have failed, compost! Fruits and vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds (and coffee filters), nut shells, and grains can all be composted. There are a number of ways to compost, from vermicomposting with worms to creating a simple garden compost pile, you’re sure to find a method that works for you. But the onus to reduce your family’s food waste shouldn’t rest on your shoulders alone.
Fun stickers are an effective way to remind kids to compost (via RecycleReminders)
Take steps to make composting a family effort. Consider turning composting into a game for your kids. Reward them for composting their food scraps with small prizes. Stickers and buttons from Team Compost can remind your kids that recycling food waste is just as important as recycling any other material.
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be a hassle. You can find simple ways to engage all of your family members – even the little ones – in reducing their impact, starting right in your kitchen.
Guest post written by Monica Burton