Going green doesn’t have to mean installing solar panels or giving up all of your cars (though it certainly can!). There are many small, simple, easy ways to adopt a greener lifestyle that will save you money and offer other benefits along the way.
Here’s seven small changes to make to make a big difference.
1. Unplug. Make it a regular family habit to turn everything off every so often, either for an afternoon, an evening or a whole day. This can mean living like an old fashioned family in the evenings and playing games by candlelight, camping in the back yard, turning off all the lights and the a/c and hanging out outside, or whatever works best for your family. Having a no-cook night each week can also be a nice break for whoever’s usually in charge of meals! The family can picnic in the back yard with some sandwiches and fruit, for instance.
2. Open the windows at night and on cool days. There’s no need to keep the windows shut and the air conditioner going at all times. You can naturally cool the house (and improve the air!) by opening windows in the evenings, mornings and on temperate days. Open them on multiple sides of the house to get the best cross breeze.
3. Take care of some errands on foot. We have become a society that automatically gets in the car even to go to the end of the block. Consider walking for short errands such as going to the post office or taking the kids to school. Not only does it save gas, but it’s good exercise for everyone.
4. Buy local. Most people think of fruits and vegetables when they think of buying local, but it can also apply to anything from furniture to meat to children’s toys. Buying from local producers helps the environment (less transportation) and also keeps the local economy strong, helping our neighbors and our communities.
Want some examples? Garden Watchdog offers this list of garden companies and suppiers near Mankato (click here to search for another zip code). Minnesota Grown also lets you search for vendors from all over the state in all kinds of products.
5. Kick the bottle habit. Stop buying cases of bottled water and you’ll reduce our dependency on petroleum, save room in the landfills, eliminate one source of unhealthy toxins like BPA, and save money. You can buy inexpensive water filters or simply start refrigerating tap water (a squeeze of lemon can improve the taste) and carry it in a safe reuseable bottle. If you’re spending $5 a week on bottled water, you’d save about $70 over a three-month period by switching to tap water.
6. Hit some garage sales. Garage sales are green? You bet! Garage sales take care of two of the three “R’s” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). They reduce the need for new items while new owners reuse old products and give them new life. Saving money is another nice perk!
7. Plant some edible landscaping. From rhubarb to raspberries to pear trees, edible landscaping plants are a wonderful way to add to your yard and produce healthy food for your family. I’ll feature some of my favorite edible landscaping plants later in the week.
There are, of course, thousands of ways to go green, slow down and live more simply. Please add some more in the comments!