Practically Green, Part 3

In Practically Green, Part 1 and Part 2, I suggested these 10 simple steps for living in harmony with the planet.

  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.
  6. Print on both sides of the paper.
  7. Choose your transportation wisely.
  8. Use what you have.
  9. Buy less stuff.
  10. Get a library card.

In Part 3, I offer five more ways we can reduce our impact on the planet.

11. When you do need something, buy it used. Frequent thrift stores, yard and estate sales, and check craigslist.com to purchase used goods before buying what you need new. Even better than buying something used, see if you can borrow what you need from your friends and neighbors, such as tools or rarely used items. Check to see if you live in a community with a tool-lending library. Bonus: Join freecycle.org to find things you need for free.

12. Fix things. Consider repairing things before replacing them. I don’t think of myself as Ms. Fix-It, but when I have fixed things in the past, I felt a sense of satisfaction. The projects I have tackled have been small, such as replacing the battery in an iPod. First I watched my husband do it, then I did one on my own. I have also repaired a blender. Even if you think you can’t do stuff like this, I encourage you to give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

13. Reuse and repurpose things. Recently I decided I needed a watering can for my garden. I figured I would find one at a yard sale soon enough, so I didn’t consider buying one at a store. Until then, I would use a pitcher from our kitchen. I had never mentioned this to my husband, but one day when I was about to recycle a kitty litter jug, he said:

You sure you don’t need this for anything else?
I responded, I don’t think so.
How about a watering jug for the garden, he asks.
Brilliant! I need one of those.

You see, he thinks like an environmentalist, always trying to reuse something before recycling or throwing it away. I have yet to adopt this skill, but hopefully it will rub off on me over time.

14. Turn the thermostat down and set it on a timer. Believe it or not, our heat comes on in August and would run all day if we didn’t set the thermostat on a timer. Not only does this conserve energy, it saves us money. (You will find that the more “green” you become, the more green you will save.)

15. Avoid plastic bags in the produce section. I used to use plastic bags when buying produce. I would reuse the bags when I scooped the litter boxes. I don’t use plasic bags anymore, but I do wash the produce very well when I get home and store it in seal-tight containers to keep it fresh. This works even better than bags. You may need to stock up on containers for this purpose but it’s worth the investment.

Practically Green is a six part series. Stay tuned for Part 4.

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.