April 22nd marks the 44th Earth Day. Maybe you’ve been living a green lifestyle well before “Earth Day” had its own celebration, and maybe it’s the first year you’ve decided to make some changes. Somewhere along the line, society thought it was more “convenient” to make everything disposable resulting in extra trips to the store, not to mention bigger landfills. Green living doesn’t mean you have to churn your own butter (but if you do, send some my way please…yum!) or hang dry all of your laundry. It’s about making conscious changes that work for you and your family today. These 10 ideas are easy ways to make life a little greener.
1. Eliminate petroleum-based products from your skin care. Petroleum not only contains carcinogens, but do you really want to coat your skin with the dregs of an oil barrel? Contrary to what most marketers claim, petroleum jelly doesn’t moisturize the skin, it suffocates it. A simple switch to a non-petroleum based lip balm like Eco-Lips Pure & Simple will soothe your lips without harming your skin.
2. Bring your own bag. Many cities- Chicago included- are implementing a plastic bag ban. This is the perfect opportunity to start a new habit of bringing your own bag to stores. The Organic T-shirt bag is made in the US from USA organic cotton recycled tees. It’s incredibly durable (holds two gallons of milk!), machine washable, and so lightweight it’s easy to add to your purse or pocket. Many stores also take a few cents off your purchase when you bring your own bag: save the Earth & your wallet!
3. Plant a garden. Nothing tastes quite as perfect as a fresh-picked strawberry. Dinner’s a snap when you can walk in the backyard and select fresh salad ingredients. A backyard garden is a great way to know your food is pesticide free and truly “farm to table.” Short on space? You can grow organic herbs with Sprout Bottles 4-pack herb set. Organic soil and seeds are included with each recycled beer bottle container. No backyard or garden necessary for fresh Brewhouse Basil, Full-Bodied Rosemary, Hop-In Oregano, and Tapped Out Sage.
4. Consult the experts. Standing at the seafood counter trying to determine which fish is more sustainable? Not certain if your drug-store mascara is more or less toxic than some of the expensive brands? A quick search (both have an app too) on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch or Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database can help you make a quick, informed decision.
5. Repurpose. Turning something old into something new is a concept our grandparents perfected. A young couple in California, however, perfected turning ordinary household objects into new toys for little ones. The Chicago Tribune listed Box Play for Kids one of their “Simple Solutions” for a greener life. These USA-made stickers are created from 100% recycled paper & vegetable-based inks and turn the ordinary into extraordinary!
6. Carry a reusable water bottle. Millions of plastic water bottles are bought in the US everyday. Less than 25% of those are recycled. Aside from the drain on your wallet, manufacturing plastic water bottles takes an exorbitant amount of water, petroleum, and energy to produce the billions made annually. Avoid adding to the problem by carrying a reusable water bottle. It’s not only better for the environment, but it’s easier to stay hydrated too. Vapur Anti-Bottles are made in the USA, BPA-free, dishwasher & freezer safe. Available in .5L and 1L and plenty of colors for everyone in the family to choose their favorite. The handy carabiner clip easily attaches to backpacks & tote bags, and it folds for easy transport when empty.
7. Take a clean-up walk. Make your surroundings greener- literally- by picking up stray papers and cans around your neighborhood. Even filling a small bag will make a big impact visually, and help prevent garbage/recyclables from ending up in neighborhood ponds. At the park? Toss wrappers that may have blown from pockets into the garbage can.
8. Avoid microbeads. Over the past few years, billions of plastic beads have made their way into our lakes (and the belly of fish). Scientists were amazed at their source…facial and body scrubs. While legislation will eventually place a ban on microbeads, make the change now. Not sure if your scrub contains them? Look for polyethylene or polypropylene on the ingredient list. Eliminate the guesswork with Green Envee Micro Bamboo Facial Exfoliator which uses sustainable (and biodegradable) bamboo powder instead of petroleum-based microbeads.
9. Choose Fair Trade. Living green doesn’t mean neglecting your sweet tooth; it just means making conscientious choices about how your treats are crafted. Endangered Species chocolates are made in the USA with 100% Ethically Traded chocolate. They buy all of their cacao from small family owned Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, helping sustain the habitats and communities.
10. Unplug. Change-up the nightly tv rut and get unplugged. Leave the electronics behind for an hour and take the kids (spouse, dog, friends, or just yourself) for a walk. Play cards, bike to the local ice cream shop, do a puzzle, play catch, visit your local library, or just unplug.
Treehouse photo credit: Design the Life You Want to Live.