So, it’s been a while. I’m a gal who functions a lot on momentum, but back in the spring I hit a few potholes in the road that made me slam on the blog brakes. (It all ends well, but here’s what happened.) My son fell and broke his arm while we were visiting family in another state, and the break was severe enough that he needed surgery within the day (he fell at 5pm, and had his surgery the next day at 5am). So we had to take an ambulance ride from the first hospital to a pediatric one, and ended up being awake all night. On top of that, since the break was by the growth plate just above his elbow, there was concern that the nerves could be damaged and that if it didn’t heal properly it could end up being stunted as the rest of his body kept growing. In my attempts to keep him wrapped up in an invisible ball of mommy protection (and to navigate some extra insurance hurdles due to being out of state) I was very stressed.
About a month after my son broke his arm, I started to have a series of dental pain and headaches that led to me needing three root canals. All within the space of four weeks. I must have had underlying tooth issues already, but I think the constant state of worry I was in made them rage to the forefront. It was a mess of frequent pain, more bills, I felt like I just had to keep my head above water, and I’ve been kind of in “defense mode” since, half-believing that something else crazy was about to come around the corner.
Even though blogging has taken a back seat, ideas for green projects and topics to share have been bouncing around in my head all the same. Moving forward with them was overwhelming until recently, and the drive to share on the blog again has been stirring at last. And it feels good to be back!
With so many ideas to share, I’ll have another post out within a week! For today, here are some ideas you can quickly apply in order to build your own momentum for a greener lifestyle. You could pick one to focus on this week, and build a habit of environmental practices by adding these small steps in progressively. And many of these ideas are free to do, or will even save you money!
I’ve added some ideas from the “Green Advice for Beginners” page on The Green Forum (an informative and very British environmental online community). I’m just getting familiar with it, but for a wider range of experiences and solutions, I highly recommend that you check them out!
- Switch to reusable shopping bags. Grocery stores typically have these available for purchase (pick sturdy ones in designs you love!), though you could also use canvas bags, totes, or coolers you may already have in your home. Make a habit of recycling the standard plastic ones, and try to keep your reusable bags easily accessible so you’re more likely so remember them when you go shopping. I’ve finally gotten in the habit myself by looping the bag handles over my inside door handle after unpacking, and then putting them in my car’s passenger seat so they are (a) with me, and (b) they’re right there in my face so I don’t leave them behind once I’m there!
- Replace your light bulbs with energy efficient ones as they wear out. I strongly prefer LED bulbs to florescent ones because they provide a much more natural light, and they have excellent life spans that save you on both energy and purchase costs!
- Donate unwanted items instead of throwing them away. It can seem simplest to toss items we no longer need in the trash. But it’s well worth it to take a little extra time to pass along things with some life in them to others. Many thrift stores would appreciate your donations, but there are also groups that allow you to gift items you don’t need to your neighbors. You can join your local Freecycle or Buy Nothing group (I found mine through Facebook), and Craigslist also has a “free” page that you can post items on. Many people are willing to fix up old bikes or other special gear that not everyone has time to deal with, so keep that in mind before tossing everything, too!
- Get out of your (temperature) comfort zone. Check your thermostat: could you live with being a little warmer in the summer, or a little cooler in the winter? At my house, in the winter we’re all in long sleeves because unless we’re exercising, it should be too cool for a short sleeves. Each degree you move your thermostat drastically affects your energy costs, as shown in this analysis from Energy Hub!
- Re-evaluate your outings. If you regularly use your car for your errands, are there any places you can travel to on foot? Could you bike or take public transportation, even though it will take longer? If you need your car due to distance or because you’ll be picking up a lot of shopping, or because you have family members going with you, try to arrange your errands so you can do them all in one trip instead of multiple trips throughout the week. Reduce your costs for gas (and wear and tear on your vehicle), and you’ll also reduce your environmental footprint!
- Be a conscious consumer. Focus on needs over wants, replace items that wear out with high-quality options that will last, and search for second-hand/thrifted options before relying on a typical shop. This can take a little more time, but guys, thrift stores are like the Room of Requirement in the Harry Potter series. You’ll be amazed what turns up right when you need it, and you’ll get it for a great deal too. Sometime I’m going to go through my whole house and document all the things we’ve gotten second hand, and how much money it’s saved us over the years!
- Borrow instead of buy! Libraries are full of books, CDs, movies, and more that you can use for free, and you can build relationships with neighbors and members of your community by sharing and asking for items you need for just a short while. Just make sure to use loaner items with care and return to the owner promptly! Or, if you really want the latest movie for keeps, buy a digital copy that you can play on your TV as well as other devices! It is a wonderful perk of technology that we can reduce the amount of physical items in our lives, for the sake of tidier homes as well as for a cleaner earth.
Why is it important that we use fewer plastic bags when we shop, buy fewer things new, and use less energy to travel and power our homes? The energy it takes to make everyday items (and to power our homes) adds to the increase of greenhouse gases. Unless, of course, you’re already using a green energy source like solar panels. In that case, good for you!! We’re already seeing climate change through extreme weather in unusual places, as well as the rapid decline of certain animal populations as their environments shift. We need to show the companies that create the majority of the pollution, carbon emissions, and the like, that we, the consumers, are taking action for change and that we demand they do the same. Small steps like these are an important way to start.
So start today! Pick something small to change in your life, whether it’s an idea suggested above or something of your own, and get rolling! Share below what you plan on doing, and challenge your friends and family to join you!