Monday, April 16, 2012

Green No Brainers - Easy actions to be more eco-friendly

Feeling guilty about not taking my reusable coffee mug to my favorite SBs, and getting coffee anyway in a toss-away cup, I took off the recyclable cardboard strip to recycle and contemplated what good thing did I do for the environment that day. I thought, “Well, I do drive a hybrid, I kept in a short driving distance to my home, and I used my reusable shopping bag.” I thought of other positive steps I took that have become part of my routine – green no brainers so to speak – and those steps have made living green so much easier.

Here are 12 actions I do regularly:

1. Reusable shopping bags at the ready: I keep at least one reusable shopping bag in the car. Though I like to plan my shopping trips to maximize time and not drive needlessly, there are times when I’m out and about that I remember items I forgot or need at the moment. And I take my bag everywhere, to any kind of store, which has its own benefits, beyond saying a bag: At Target (5 cents discount), Trader Joe’s (opportunity to win a raffle prize), or Sav-On (usually a nice thanks for being eco-friendly) are just a few examples.

2. Using a timer for showers: My bathroom heater has a timer so this makes it especially easy to monitor my showering time, which can get long as I tend to space out. Setting it on 5 minutes or less helps me not waste water and minutes in the shower.

3. Driving a gas efficient car: this speaks for itself, though I know not driving at all is the best eco-green option.

 4. Taking off one day a week not to drive: Since Earth Day 1991, when I took this pledge as part of an EDF campaign, I have tried to do this as best as I can.

5. Walkable errands: If I can walk to a destination rather than drive, I choose that option. Walking is my main exercise so it’s a win-win.

6. Reusable Coffee Mug: Usually I do take my cup when I get takeaway coffee. There are coffee houses, like SBS, if you ask, that will give up a cup if you plan on staying in the shop. (Sometimes I forget this myself so I should write a note to myself and keep it on my smart phone).
     a. In truth I know that the truly eco-green coffee option would be to stay at home, drink an organic, shade-grown, free-trade blend, so I try not to overdo going to the coffee house.

7. Unplugging appliances that don’t need to be on: I don’t always remember this but it’s a great habit to develop. There are so many appliances with blinking clocks, from DVD players, toasters, to microwaves getting into a regular habit of unplugging them will save an unnecessary energy drain.

8. E-bills and E-pay: Not everyone is comfortable with going online with their bills but I love it. Not only does it save paper, it’s convenient, and I don’t have all that paper filing (or shredding) to do.

9. Not tossing my old batteries into the landfill: I save my old batteries plus other items considered hazardous waste in California and I take them to the appropriate waste center once a year. Normally cities, at least in California, have at least one hazardous waste pick up day a year.

10. Buying used first: I take the adage, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” as a green motto seriously. From thrift stores, antique stores, used book stores to used and recycled clothing stores, I’ve had pretty good luck finding things I need. Sure, I like sparkly new things and I do buy new, but how soon does the sparkling new turn old? And why not reuse something if it can be reused? Of course I try to keep my shopping at minimum. And I look for timeless, classic styles and items.

11. Buying recycled paper and plastic goods: It used to be that buying recycled products would cost several dollars more. I find that to be less true these days. I’ve found recycled paper and plastic kitchen and office products at reasonable prices when shopping at major retailers.

12. Recycle: This is so part of my routine I almost forgot to include this on my list. I am one of those people that if I see an item in the communal regular trash bin that should go into recycling, I will remove it and put it into recycling. It's where my OCD tendencies can come out to shine. :)

Since I’ve just touted my eco-green horn, here’s a confession of green actions I need to improve upon:

1. Composting: I really need to get a grip on composting and do it more often.

2. Bicycling: One day I’ll get over my phobia but I’m a bit fearful riding a bike. I know this is a great green option that I hope to incorporate in the future.

3. Cleaning out my car: I carry needless things in my car that probably drain my mileage. I need to clean it out so I can get even better gas mileage.

4. Buy less frozen food packaging. I’ve gotten really lazy about this. I need to cut back which will be better for the landfill and for my health.

Oh, I could go on… What’s your green no brainer?

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