Practically Green, Part 6

In the Practically Green series, I have suggested 25 eco-friendly steps we can take to make a difference for the environment. Many of the steps may seem small and insignificant, but we need to remember that small steps add up to big changes when a lot of people take them. Every action you take matters, big or small. It’s easy to forget, so an occasional reminder is a good thing. Today I offer five more ways we can reduce our impact on 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.
  11. When you do need something, buy it used.
  12. Fix things.
  13. Reuse and repurpose things.
  14. Turn the thermostat down and set it on a timer.
  15. Avoid plastic bags in the produce section.
  16. Buy dry foods in bulk.
  17. Bring your own takeaway containers.
  18. Stop using plastic storage bags.
  19. Change your light bulbs.
  20. Grow your own food.
  21. Wash clothes in cold water.
  22. A toaster oven uses less energy than a conventional oven.
  23. Let food cool before storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
  24. Change your showerhead.
  25. Pick up trash.

26. Go vegan. The UN reported in 2010 that “Animal products and fossil fuels dominate contributions to global environmental problems.” Plant-based foods are a more sustainable option, especially whole fresh foods.

27. Use your voice
. Educate yourself on an issue, such as clean water, oil production, or landfills, and become a voice for the environment. Whether you’re out there on the front lines at a demonstration against Chevron, an armchair activist writing letters to the editor, or somewhere in between, it’s important to remember that every action you take as an individual matters, because all of us together add up to a whole lot of people.

28. Bring your own lunch
. When I was working in an office, I was astounded by the amount of garbage one company produced at lunch time alone, so I started bringing my own lunch. By packing a lunch, you will reduce your impact on the planet and likely your waist-line. I know I eat healthier when I make my own food in lieu of eating out.

29. Learn to live without air conditioning
. This isn’t a simple step for some, me included. It’s ridiculously hard to live without air conditioning when you live in a hot and humid climate. I know. Read about it here. Fortunately, we moved to a cooler climate this year and I no longer “need” air conditioning. Perhaps you can reduce your use of air conditioning. Last summer I used it less than 10 times during Chicago’s very heated summer. My body began to adjust to the heat and air conditioning felt really cold.

I’m still terrible at this. Recently my husband and I visited Boston. It was August and humid. There’s nothing like a little a/c to fight humidity as far as I’m concerned. As soon as we checked into our hotel room, my husband turned off the air conditioning and opened a window. I immediately started complaining that I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of the heat and noise. On and on I went, knowing I would lose the battle, which I did. It’s almost as if I live on auto-pilot. After living with air conditioning for over 40 years, it’s a tough habit to break. My motto: Do the best you can.

30. Buy recycled products
. Whenever you are buying something new, consider buying a recycled version such as toilet paper, copy paper, purses made from plastic bottles, etc. People are creative and making more and more products from recycling other products. It’s fun to see what these creative souls come up. Keep an eye out for more products like this.

Practically Green is a six part series. Stay tuned for a bonus post.

Global Seva Amazon Challenge
Support environmental justice in Ecuador 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.

If you are unable to donate money, please consider what new action you can take to reduce your impact on the environment.