Practically Green, Part 2

In Practically Green, Part 1, we started with five easy steps you can take to reduce your impact on the planet and become more green.

1. Bring your own shopping bags.
2. Carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go—no exceptions.
3. Let dishes air dry in the dishwasher.
4. Use paper bags instead of plastic when scooping kitty litter.
5. Buy fruits and vegetables grown closer to home—at least on this continent.

Every step you take, big or small, makes a difference. Our actions matter, both individually and collectively. Never think for a minute that they don’t. On the other hand, this isn’t about perfection. It’s about living in harmony with the planet. Much of what it takes to be “green” may initially seem like a pain in the ass—at least it did to me, but it’s mostly about changing habits. Practice any of these steps regularly and soon they will fit easily into your day-to-day life.

6. Print on both sides of the paper. Simply change your printer settings to print on both sides automatically, especially at the office where they typically have fancy printers. We have a laser printer at home that will allow us to do this manually. See if yours does too. There is also a toner-saving setting on laser printers that you can select to reduce the amount of toner used.

7. Choose your transportation wisely. Walk, ride a bike or take public transit before driving when possible. If you need to drive, slow down and keep a steady pace to conserve fuel. So, I’m not an expert at this but I’m learning not to punch the gas as soon as the light turns green. I’m a work in progress. Also, share a ride or carpool when it makes sense.

8. Use what you have. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized something that seems to be a critical life lesson: I usually have what I need, and if I don’t, it will show up soon. It’s not a concept I grew up with but it’s almost always true for me. If you don’t believe me, try living with this motto for a while and see what happens. Sometimes it might mean you have to get creative or forego something shiny and new for an older model, but there you go, you have what you need. Keep in mind there is a difference between what you need and what you want. Give it a try, see what happens. By living this way, I consume less.

9. Buy less stuff. We live in a consumer culture and most of us were raised to consume. It’s a hard habit to break but it’s worth it. The rewards are huge and include saving money and spending less time running errands (and driving around) on the weekends, which leaves more free time for fun. We live in a world full of abundances, but we don’t need all that is offered. In fact, after years of buying less, I encourage everyone to try out the “less is more” concept.

10. Get a library card. Use the library as your first option to read a book or magazine. Check to see if your library has a “hold” option, so that you can order the book online and when it is ready, the library will notify you that it’s available for pick-up. This efficient process sold me on using the library regularly. If you need to buy a copy, find it used or purchase an electronic copy, before buying it new. Books and magazines are also great for sharing. Try to trade with other bookworms.

Practically Green is a six part series. Stay tuned for Part 3.

Global Seva Amazon Challenge

You can support my efforts to be “green” by donating to the Global Seva Amazon Challenge. I’m raising funds to defend rainforest ecosystems, stand for environmental justice, and reclaim indigenous rights in the Ecuadorian Amazon. If you find my writing helpful in any way, consider donating to this important cause.