Simple steps to help the environment

Simple steps to help the environment

August 17, 2016

Going green.  From world politics to elementary schools, the state of our environment is something we hear about on a regular basis.  You may not be able to run your appliances off of wind power but there are a few simple steps you can take to help the environment.  It starts with the “three R’s” – not the old school subjects but:

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

You can’t save the environment by yourself, but small steps that you take to help have benefits for you as well.  It isn’t just “going green,” sometimes it’s just good common sense.  Reducing, reusing and recycling go hand-in-hand and some things do have more than one purpose – even saving money.

Save gas - You can reduce the amount of gas your car uses by consolidating shopping errands into one larger trip and if possible, travel at times where you won’t be stuck in traffic.  Make sure your engine is in good repair and your tires are properly inflated – a well-running car uses less gas and saves money.

Eat local – Shopping at a farmer’s market is good for you and your environment.  Locally produced food and goods don’t require as much travel or storage, which conserves fuel and reduces food spoilage.  By shopping local, you’re getting healthier food while investing money into your community, supporting local producers, conserving resources and reducing waste.

Buy less - About one-fourth of the food purchased in the U.S. is thrown right into the garbage and a lot of this comes from your refrigerator.  Don’t buy more than you need, cook only what you will eat and eat what you have before you make more.  This goes for other products as well so ask yourself if you really need another pair of shoes or consider donating one of your old pairs.

Cut back – If you are like most people, you can save on your utilities – in addition to what you know about the thermostat.  Turn it up in the summer and down in the winter, look for electricity “vampires” like cell phone chargers, televisions, and printers which use electricity even if not turned on.  Install those water-saving showerheads and get used to turning the water off while you are brushing your teeth too.  You planned on it.

Compost – When you do find yourself with spoiled vegetables, put them in a compost pile, along with vegetable ends, peels and other parts you don’t want.  Composting takes some time but eventually, waste turns into natural fertilizer.  Don’t put animal products into the compost or you can attract vermin of multiple sizes, from bugs to raccoons.

Use those bins – If your garbage pickup includes recycling - do it.  Each community has a different set of rules but once you get into the habit, it’s easy to participate.  Recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum.

Check out the thrift store – Thrift stores accept donations of all kinds of things that people don’t want. You can give away your old stuff and useful things can be found for pennies on the dollar at a thrift store.  Anything you donate or buy makes money for the charity that sponsors the store.

Reusable bags – Plastic is forever, paper is bulky and both often get thrown in the landfill or they may be banned altogether.  Reusable bags help the environment before it becomes a problem.  Reusable shopping bags come in multiple fabrics, sizes, and shapes and can be used over and over for a variety of purposes.  

Some reusable bags also fit the “recycled” bill.  They can be made with recycled cotton, paper or plastic. Some can be washed repeatedly while others are “specialty” products like insulated totes or wine bags.  Giving reusable bags away is a great way to help other people help the environment too.  It’s simple, inexpensive and easy.