Living a Greener Life

 

I’ve been trying to do my part in combating climate change. Individually, my greener-friendlier changes may not seem to make much of a difference, but collectively, they do. The more people adapt to a greener lifestyle, the bigger the overall effect, and mother Earth really needs our help.

By now most of us have probably seen images on social media showing dead whales washing ashore with tons of plastic in their bellies. There is so much plastic and waste in the oceans that marine mammals are mistaking them for food, and are dying because of it. These images are heartbreaking. Whether it’s whales dying of plastic consumption, or dolphins dying in fish netting, or sea turtles getting their heads caught in plastic pop can holders or choking on plastic straws, it is beyond time that everyone starts to do their part.

A goal of mine has been to eliminate as much waste as I can, and I thought I was doing a good job until a neighbor of mine was going on vacation a day before trash was to be put out and asked if he could put his trash in my bin. I told him he could, but in my head wondered if a family of three’s trash would fit into my bin, along with my own trash of a household of two.

I was stunned when he came over with one bag of trash…for the week…for three people! For a household of two, in one week, we usually put out four, sometimes five bags of trash. Everything that can be recycled, gets recycled, and yet it seems we still have too much garbage. When my neighbor gets back, I’m going to have to ask him his family’s secret.

Composting is something I’ve been considering. That should help reduce the amount of trash I accumulate, and maybe even make my grass greener. I’m rereading a book I bought about nine years ago, when my interest in green living began. It’s called green chicsaving the Earth in style by Christie Matheson. Even though there is nothing very “chic” about me, I was interested in the green aspect of the book and how very simple some of the changes were.

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So much energy can be saved by simply changing the lightbulbs we use to CFL’s, compact fluorescent lightbulbs. According to the book, switching to a CFL “in just one lamp that’s on for four hours a day will reduce your annual carbon emissions by around 150 pounds. “[E]lectricity…accounts for 39 percent of all carbon emissions.”

On top of changing the lightbulbs we use, I’ve also become a stickler for turning out the lights when no one is in the room. This is probably the easiest way to be green. Another easy way to be green is to cut your plastic water bottle use. I bought filters for my faucets and I refill a glass bottle from the tap. When on the go, I use a stainless steel reusable bottle that keeps the water nice and cold, even for hours in the sun.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been turning off the faucet when I brush my teeth. It was in my fifth-grade science class. We were reading from out text book and there was a section on water conservation with an insert of a picture of a child brushing his teeth. It said to turn off the water while we brushed, and so I did and the habit has stuck with me for almost three decades. According to Matheson, “[t]he average faucet runs through three gallons of water per minute.” That’s a whole lot of water being wasted. Here is another easy way to be green – turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Individually it may not seem like much, but as a whole if everyone did this, the amount of water saved would be phenomenal. (Taking shorter showers would add even more water savings).

So here is a brief list from the book of some more easy green changes everyone can make in their daily life.

  1. Unplug chargers and appliances not being used. Plugged in charges still draw energy even when not being used.
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water. Hot water uses way too much energy and it’s not very green.
  3. Keep your thermostat one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer. These simple changes can hundreds of pounds of CO2 a year.
  4. Buy eco-friendly household products like detergent, hand soap, and dish soap.
  5. Eat less or no meat. It takes over 13,000 pounds of gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.

 

These are just some of the simple way a person can live a greener life. What are some of your favorite ways to live green?

 

 

 

 

Living Without Bottled Water

In my quest to decrease my carbon footprint as much as possible, at the start of this month I committed to not consume any bottled water.  I have a Pur filter connected to my faucet and use that as the source of all my water. It was very easy. When I was on-the -go I simply filled a reusable water bottle, and when I was home I drank from a glass– no plastic or Styrofoam cups.  Everything I used–dishes, cups, utensils–were reusable…..except when I went to a White Sox game.

This was the only time I failed in my quest. I wasn’t sure what to do because any drink I ordered would have been served in plastic, and I would have only ordered water since I rarely drink pop. I refuse to pay 5 or 6 dollars for an Aquafina (which has been confirmed to be just purified tap water, so buy a filter and purify your own tap water). Because of this ridiculous price, I regularly bring a small cooler of water bottles to games.

I brought a cooler when I went to the game and drank two bottles of water. It didn’t occur to me until later that I could have only drank one bottle and refilled it with water from the faucet. Ah well, next time. But two bottles of water for the month isn’t too bad. I know the month isn’t over, but I don’t intend for it to go any higher. It’s not the zero I had aimed for, but it’s a start.

My obsession with eliminating as much plastic from my daily life doesn’t stop at bottles, I also hate plastic bags and it infuriates me when I’m shopping and see carts pull away from checkouts filled with plastic bags. Reusable bags, people!

I was shopping at TJ Maxx a couple weeks ago and when I was called to the cashier I placed my reusable bag and items on the counter. I glanced up and saw the cashier looking for the price tag on my bag. I laughed and told him it was mine for bagging the items. He commented that he didn’t think it was one of the store’s items.

I was probably the only person that cashier rung up that day, or maybe even that week,  who brought her own bag, but I hope one day that changes. I hope using reusable bags becomes the norm. Every piece of plastic — cups, bottles, utensils, straws– that isn’t used is good for our environment and our oceans. Don’t think you can’t make a difference because you are one person. There are many others doing the same thing and together we can make a big change.

We have to.

Plastic is having such a disastrous effect on our oceans that the European Union is proposing a ban on plastics.

 

Of course, we won’t get anything like that here in the U.S because our leaders don’t believe in climate change, but they do believe in giving corporations free reign to dump their filthy wastes into our streams and pollute our land and air.

I was never the smartest student in any of my classes in all of my levels of education. I’m okay with that. We all do our best. But because it is so easy for me, not the sharpest tool in the shed, to grasp the dangers of climate change and the disastrous effects the heating of our greenhouse gasses is having on this planet–our only planet–I have to believe most of the global warming deniers understand this also, but choose to ignore the evidence because they are in some way profiting off exploiting our land.

Greed, especially corporate greed, is slowly destroying our planet and our lives.

 

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I do not own these pictures.