Friday, April 22, 2016

10 Easy Ways to Go Green

As a 'green' mama, I have spent quite a bit of time reading similar lists made by others and analyzing my life to see how I can be more green and earth friendly myself.  

It's a work in progress, but I have taken baby steps towards improving my family's green-ability score.   

In honour of Earth Day, I would like share 10 of the easier things we've done to green our everyday life:

1. Cold Water Wash & Hang to Dry
Almost all of our laundry is done with cold water.  I have heard people say that they are afraid to wash in cold because, a) their powder detergent may not dissolve, or b) their cloths may not get clean.  

I can honestly say that we haven't had an issue with either, even with our front loader.

Drying using a clothes line is a great energy saver. Don't have a clothes line? Drying racks are a great alternative and can be used indoors or out.

2. Use an Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent
There are so many detergents to choose from now boasting environmental friendliness.  I prefer to make my own.

3. Don't Buy Bottled Water.
Get a good filtration system that will last you for years to come, and filter tap water rather than buying water in those pollution causing, wasteful plastic bottles. Read this post on what we use, and check out this filtration system.

4. Purchase Products with Reduced Packaging
Plastic drives me wild, especially plastic packaging.  Use products that aren't packaged in plastic at all, or that have less packaging.  
For example, take a look at all those plastic bottles lining the walls of your shower stall, and the ingredients they contain.

Our family has made the switch to natural products that aren't packaged in plastic, have the added bonus of safer ingredients. Doing this, we have been able to reduce the plastic in our shower to 1 bottle.  That one bottle is an (old/reused) plastic sports bottle that holds our natural hair conditioner (ACV & Water).

5. Use Natural Home Cleansers
I stopped buying traditional store bought cleansers years ago.  I've found that there isn't much that a little vinegar, baking soda, or this soap can't get clean.  When I need something with disinfecting properties, I use our Thieves Cleaner by Young Living. It's concentrated, natural, and a little goes a long way.  Want to learn more about Young Living's products and how I save 24% on my orders?

6. Rain Barrels are a Green Gardener's Friend
We put our rain barrels in when we started our vegetable gardens, and haven't looked back.  The year we started gardening was the year we had a drought though. In this instance I used grey water from our sinks and showers to water the garden.  It was water down the drain, so I figured that it might as well be put to good use.  It got us through a couple of long stretches with no rain and it was probably the best year our garden has seen.

7. Recyclables Turn Children's Crafts.
Like most kids, Son is creative. He loves to dig through the recycling bin and find cardboard or bottles that he can craft into something great.  For instance, for Halloween, a plastic bottle became a fireman's air tank, and a cardboard box became a shield for his nerf gun battles.  There's no end to what can be reused.

8. Fix Appliances instead of Replacing 
We recently had a washing machine break down. Turns out the computer board in our washer crashed.  Instead of replacing the machine and sending it to a landfill, we chose to have it repaired.  

9. Use newspapers to Line Compost Buckets 
A few years ago, our city started offering curbside compost collection.  Prior to this we used a backyard compost bin.  I don't know about you, but one of things I didn't like about composting is how 'yucky' the mini-bucket under the counter would get.  You can purchase paper bags meant to line them and contain the compost waste, but that just seems wasteful in itself when there is an endless supply of newspapers in this world.

Don't get the newspaper? Surely one of your neighbours do and they could save you some.  Here's a handy tutorial on how to fold newspaper compost liners, but I've since found that it's easier just to grab a sheet of newspaper and line the bin without folding it.  It means carrying the whole bucket to the composter rather than lifting out the liner alone, but it's a time saver, and it's a green solution to yucky compost buckets.

10. Buy Used
There are plenty of people selling their used items and it's likely just what you've been looking for.  Save yourself a few dollars and keep items out of landfills buy perusing your local newspaper or buy and sell web pages (we like to use Kijiji) to find what you're looking for before turning to buying it new.  It's a great green strategy but also a great money saver.

Our most recent used purchase was a car top carrier. With Baby #2 on the way and a small car we realized that our options were a) buy a larger vehicle, or b) get a car top carrier for those times we'll need a little extra space.  A larger vehicle was out of the question for a few reasons (some financial, some environmental), so we chose to get a roof top carrier.  We looked in stores to see how much they cost (for reference) and then started our Kijiji search for a good used one. Within a couple days of deciding to purchase one, we had it in our hands at a fraction of the cost of a new one. 

There are so many ways to green our lives, many of them simple.  I had a hard time limiting this list to 10! 

In what ways have you greened your life?  
Share your favourites and help us learn!

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