Go Green for Earth Day!
by Michael & Bianca Alexander
You don’t have to be Al Gore to understand that going green is vital to Mother Earth’s survival—and our own. Most of us want to do our part to prevent global warming, but aren’t sure how. The good news is, scientists have reported that if each of us did our part to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by just 2% a year, we could actually prevent the worst effects of global warming by the year 2050! So celebrate Earth Day every day by making a few small lifestyle changes. Not only will they help save our planet, but they can also save you money. Here’s how:
1. Say Goodbye to energy vampires. Reduce your utility bill and your carbon dioxide emissions by upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, like an adjustable thermostat, throughout your home. Also, unplug common appliances like your cell phone charger, computer and TV when not in use: if they’re plugged in, they’re draining energy even if they’re not turned on. And instead of cranking the heat—pile on the extra layers and get cozy with your loved ones.
Tip: Don’t have time to go around unplugging appliances at night? No worries, with a multi-plug power strip you can save tons of energy just by pressing the off button each night.
2. Make the switch to CFLs. Still waiting around to change out your regular incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs? By making the switch, you can save about $50 over the life of each bulb—and reduce your CO2 emissions.
Bonus: Nowadays, CFL’s and LEDs come in a variety of fashionable shapes and sizes, perfect for even the most fabulous light fixture.
3. De-tox your home. Since green is everywhere, nowadays you can opt for an eco-friendly redecoration by using low-voc paint, carpet, paints, and even wood cabinetry. Also, detoxify your home by avoiding standard household cleaning and personal care products, which contain toxic chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and phosphates. These chemicals are not only carcinogenic, but also wreak havoc on the planet when rinsed down the drain and into our rivers and streams.
Fact: Every cup of dish or laundry detergent you use eventually kills one cubic foot of photoplankton, tiny ocean organisms that can actually help prevent global warming. Through photosynthesis, they replenish the planet with oxygen, and absorb ozone-destroying CO2 from the atmosphere. Try eco-friendly cleaning products for your home, like Biokleen detergent, and Dr. Hauschka’s biodynamic personal care products for your face and body.
4. Install a Water Filter. Using a water filter will not only keep you from digesting toxins in our water and give you better-tasting water, but it will also reduce your dependence on plastic water bottles. In fact, a typical filter used can eliminate up to two tractor trailers full of plastic bottles in our landfills, and the energy (and CO2) required to manufacture those bottles.
Try: A point-of-use filter (for a single faucet) or point-of entry filter (for water used throughout the home). But beware of reverse osmosis filters, which over strip water, depleting it of body-benefiting minerals, and waste water and also water softeners, which deposit harsh chemicals into the earth.
5. Eat organic or sustainably grown food. Organic farming is better for the planet than industrial farming because it’s free of harmful pesticides that run into our rivers and streams. Organic food is also a natural immune booster during cold-season, because it’s free of toxins like GMO’s (genetic modifiers), antibiotics and hormones, which are dangerous to your health when digested and have been linked to degenerative diseases and learning disabilities in children.
What to look for when you shop: Don’t be fooled by products labeled “natural”--this term is unregulated by the FDA and serves primarily as a marketing tool. Instead, look for the USDA Certified Organic seal to ensure you’re getting the highest quality organic (95% or higher).
6. Reduce your meat consumption. Most people don’t know that the meat industry is the largest industrial polluter of the planet, wasting millions of tons of precious water, land and natural resources each year. In fact, studies show that 18% of greenhouse gases have been linked to farming animals for food. Fact: A meat-eating diet requires more than 4000 gallons of water per day. By comparison, a vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, and is less costly to your wallet and the planet.
Not ready to give up all of your favorite meat treats? Then try going vegetarian for just one or two meals a day, then move up to one or two days a week.
7. Wear Eco-Chic Clothing. Before going on your next shopping excursion, take into account that about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides are used just to make one cotton t-shirt! Do your part by purchasing clothing made from sustainable fabrics like bamboo, hemp, or organic cotton, which feels like silk on your skin.
Better yet: Do your part to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle by buying one-of-a-kind vintage clothing at a local retro boutique, or go treasure hunting with your girlfriend at a weekend estate sale.
8. Travel green whenever you can. To cut down on C02 emissions, consider driving a fuel or energy efficient vehicle. If you can't buy a new car or aren’t ready to trade yours in for a Prius, opt to walk, bike, or carpool (public transportation counts) instead of driving.
Love to travel? Make your winter vacation extra-special by staying at an upscale green hotel that supports green practices.
9. Offset your carbon footprint. When all else fails, do your part to neutralize your carbon footprint the easy way by purchasing carbon offset credits. Carbon offsetting is one of the most popular ways clean up CO2 emissions from daily activities in your home or business like driving your car, flying, or turning on the heat.
Tip: For usually less than $100, carbon offsetting will help you calculate your annual energy use and offset it with pro-environment activities like replanting trees and purchasing renewable energy like wind or solar.
10. Become a conscious consumer. Being a conscious consumer means voting with your spending dollars to create the change you want to see in the world. Buy only what you need. Purchase green products and services whenever you can. Support local businesses that offer products and services sourced from no more than 100 miles from your home (start with your local farmer’s market). And finally, think about expanding your portfolio by investing in socially responsible businesses.
These are but a few of the ways you can stay green, not only on Earth Day, but all year long. And, if overhauling your whole life to go green still feels a little overwhelming, take your time. Incorporating just one of these tips on an ongoing basis can make a world of difference, so feel free to experiment and make your green lifestyle work for you!
For more tips on living sustainably, or to share some of your own, check out www.ConsciousLivingTV.com.