Making the shift towards an environmentally-friendly lifestyle can help improve your health and life overall, and it’s also a major boost to the world around you. Ditching unnecessary chemicals, unhealthy foods, unfriendly Earth practices, and bad habits/routines can all add together to make an altogether healthier you, whilst boosting the environment and ecosystem. Wherever you are in the world, the following 20 tips are all achievable endeavours. Some of them are even great fun! So indulge yourselves whilst we all fight for a Greener future.
One of the most direct steps you can take to reduce the impact your lifestyle has on the environment is reducing the amount of energy that you use in your home. Along with making your home greener, saving energy has real, tangible benefits on your life in that it can save you money. Although some energy-saving techniques require some initial financial outlay, in the long-term the money you save can really add up.
Some energy-saving home improvements you could consider include the following:
Saving water around the home is another way to reduce the environmental impact of your lifestyle and, as with reducing energy usage, can save you plenty of money.
Whenever possible, avoid driving in a car. Local journeys can be made by walking or cycling, and always look for public transport routes when travelling further.
Obviously, these options are not available to everyone depending on personal circumstances, but cycling and walking will keep you active and help the local environment.
Following on from point 3, if you have to travel by car, investigate the possibilities for carpooling with friends and neighbours, sharing journeys for work and leisure, thus reducing the number of cars on the roads. Many busy offices actively promote such schemes so ask around to see if you can take advantage of this.
The food we consume has a profound effect on the global environment – as the world’s population grows, the demand for food increases and the strain on ecologies and habitats increases. The issues around food production, supply, and consumption are extremely complex, but there are some considerations that could help reduce the environmental impact of what you eat while also offering a healthy lifestyle include:
Bottled water is inefficient, expensive, and produces large amounts of plastic waste. Instead, use a refillable water bottle and tap water; if you like you could use a water filter to cleanse the tap water and chill the water in the fridge. As the Mother Nature Network point out, the very concept of bottled water is failed due to our our ready access to perfectly healthy tap water.
Plastic bags are appallingly wasteful to the environment. It is believed that 100 billion plastic shopping bags are used in America each year, and only 1-3% of worldwide plastic bags are recycled. This means a huge amount of waste, much of which ends up in the wild areas. You can read more worrying facts from Envirosax, but you can also help a great deal by using Earth friendly bags (such as paper, of Bags For Life), and recycle any old plastic bags you have lying around.
There are plenty of environmental initiatives you can take up, but one of the most important is the need to save our bees. These little beasts are vital to pollenating the Earth’s vibrant ecosystem, but they have been dying out due to the use of pesticides. You can help matters by purchasing Organic Honey (to support natural bee keeping practices), or donate to bee charities to help promote their wellbeing. Friends Of The Earth are currently offering a Bee Saver Kit to help keep your garden/environment bee friendly.
Charity shops provide a way to recycle any unwanted items, find second-hand stuff and, importantly, supports the charitable cause of your choice.
Freecycle is an internet-based service and community that allows users to share and discover reusable items. Before making a purchase, check out your local Freecycle community to see if you can find the item free of charge, and if you have unwanted goods in your house, use the service to recycle them. It’s easy to use and helps both your local community and the wider environment.
Books, CDs, DVDs, and more can be borrowed from libraries and friends. You can cut down on packaging and shipping by simply renting or borrowing something, and you can return the favour to your friends to get some proper social interaction going.
When giving a gift consider a greener alternative, such as making your own present, or offering some of your time and skills to do a favour for your friend or loved one. You can also use environmentally-friendly companies, such as the Eden Project (pictured above). Whichever country you are in there will be suitable sources, so do a quick search to find a unique present.
Growing food saves money, gives you an understanding of food production, and puts you in touch with nature. There is, of course, the problem of having neither the time or garden space to plant and nurture a whole vegetable patch, so head for something simple such as potted herbs or a potato sack, which can be grow effectively on a windowsill.
Modern household cleaning products are expensive, and often damaging to the environment, so a great green alternative is to make some yourself. Safe and environmentally-friendly substitutes use ingredients such as baking soda, soap flakes, lemon, cornstarch and vinegar. It’s quick to find recipes for them on the internet; try EarthEasy for a helping hand.
If you haven’t got time to make cleaning products, you can make the switch to environmentally-friendly options instead. Brands such as Ecover are made from natural, sustainable, plant-based ingredients that don’t leave chemical residue behind, and are biodegradable. Very handy for both your crockery and the local wildlife.
Modern recycled paper is perfectly acceptable for most everyday document and letter printing.
If you want to go a step further you can choose to go paperless! You can receive all your bills and letters from banks, energy companies, and other service providers by email. And remember: don’t print off documents unless it’s absolutely vital. You can also help the process by recycling any paper and card you no longer need.
Everybody should be recycling household items, but this often depends on the recycling provisions available in your local area. Another option for avoiding throwing away household goods is to repurpose them – adapting them for a new purpose in life (like witth the tin can chair above). This could be anything from empty jam jars used to store other food, tin cans turned into tea light holders, wine bottles adapted to become attractive vases or lampshades, or any other example of repurposing your imagination and creativity allows. Popular social media network Pinterest has a regular stream of such ideas for inspiration.
Big celebrations in our lives are often associated with extravagance and consumption. You can keep this as it should be, but you can be Green whilst you’re enjoying yourself. For instance, gestures such as making invitations from recycled materials, asking guests to bring homemade food, and selecting local/fair trade foodstuffs can all go a long way. At the end of the party you can collect all the used goods and repurpose them into something extravagant, if you’re the creative sort.
Holidays can have damaging effects on the places tourists visit via fuel consumption, damage to local habitats, pollution, and distortions in economies. When planning a holiday you should consider green alternatives, or consider a “staycation” by enjoying a local holiday, thus reducing the environmental impact of vacationing, and benefiting/engaging with your local community, ecology, and economy. Green Loons is a great place to start; they offer some amazing destinations with the feel-good Green factor.
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