“It’s not easy being green,” said Kermit the Frog. That rings true for all of us in this modern world that runs on microchips, office buildings, machines, and power plants. It’s sometimes difficult to achieve green results in a world so very automated.
Green Quick Fixes kicks off 2012 with 12 fixes that will make your household and lifestyle twice as green in less than one year’s time.
1. Rein in plastic bags of all kinds. Deli meat plastic bags, bread bags, the cellophane bag that held your holiday gift bows, and any other similar kinds. Take them to the grocery store and put them in the recycle bin with the grocery bags. They will be made into plastic decking instead of ending up in a landfill. Bonus: Use a fabric reusable shopping bag as much as you can!
2. Pick up solid pet waste every time you take your dog for a walk. Buy a pooper scooper and use it in your yard frequently — every few days. Pet waste degrades fast and ends up in water supplies, the beach, and streams.
3. Carry a reusable water bottle (BPA-free plastic or stainless steel) and avoid buying bottled water for everyday activities, sports and afternoons outdoors. You’ll prevent numerous piles of plastic bottles from entering crowded landfills. A few manufacturers offer a carbon filter in the bottle so you can have filtered tap water on the go.
4. Wash your car with water- and Earth-friendly products or Castile soap. You’ll eliminate toxic chemicals from running into storm drains, soils, groundwater, ponds, and the ocean.
5. Consider a small compost pile. Certain foods like coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, and eggshells are a great start. The compost can be used as fertilizer for gardens and landscaping. You’ll keep your trash bag lighter and reduce the amount of time you spend running your electric disposal.
6. Start replacing all light bulbs with Energy Star-approved compact fluorescent bulbs. Be sure to dispose of these ultra long-lasting bulbs as hazardous waste, as they contain mercury. You’ll save energy and money.
7. Avoid idling your vehicle for more than, well, briefly. For every two minutes in idle, you’ll have wasted enough fuel for one mile driven. Also, you’ll cut needless greenhouse gas emissions and immediately improve air quality for those around you — such as little asthmatic children leaving school.
8. Use power strips for all TVs and entertainment centers with grounded outlets and set to off when not in use. Unplug your toaster, coffee maker, and all electronics not in use, including your smartphone and gadget chargers. You’ll reduce the energy suck from powered-down, but still-live appliances and chargers.
9. Volunteer for one local environmental cleanup effort this year! Whether it’s beaches, parks, or ponds, lend a hand at keeping these areas litter-free.
10. Take one political action in favor of green. Whether it’s going to a local zoning board meeting and offering your perspective on maintaining green space with new development, writing a letter or joining an environmental organization that lobbies for green efforts that you support, take the initiative! If everyone took one political action, we could build a stronger, bigger, green tide of change.
11. Buy a pesticide-free Christmas tree next year and replant it. You’ll be supporting farmers that utilize sound forestry practices and contributing to global carbon reductions.
12. Be a greener consumer and think more carefully about purchases. With all gifts that you buy, consider where products are made, what chemicals they are made of, how they are packaged, and how much energy they will use.