It is great to be living in a time when environmental awareness is becoming less of a trend and more a part of the larger social conscious. This movement is good for the environment but it places an additional responsibility on us, the consumer to be more educated and informed about the products we are using. The term green is a bit over-used these days and has a broad meaning. Going “green” can be as simple as using products that are non-toxic and biodegradable but can stretch all the way to having a complete existence that is benign to the environment. Living green, though, is much more than just buying products that promise to be environmentally safe. It is about becoming consciously aware that everything we do– from the cleaning products we use, the cars we drive and even the food we eat all have a substantial impact on this world and future generations to come. There are several efforts you can make that cost little or no money and require little effort to make your life a little greener. The first thing you can do is to use green products.
So, what makes a product green? This is the million-dollar question that seems to have no one right answer. Start with the basic understanding that you want to use products that are Biodegradable. What makes something biodegradable? Biodegradable defines something, typically originating from plant or animal sources, which may be broken down by other living organisms and returned to the earth by decomposition. Importance should not just be placed on the fact that that product is biodegradable, but you must also ask how long does the biodegrading process take? Paper products only take 10-20 years to decompose, whereas aluminum and plastic bottles take hundreds of years. So, it wouldn’t make sense to place a plastic bottle in a landfill and wait several hundred years for the biodegrading process to be complete. Instead, you would want to recycle that plastic bottle and reuse it as many times as possible before throwing it away. This brings us to the next step in greening your life – Recycling.
Recycling has been a common practice throughout human history, as it gives new life to what would otherwise be waste. Taking a product or material at the end of its useful life and turning it into a usable raw material to make another product is a great way to both reduce landfill space and eliminate waste. Community curbside recycling programs serve over half the US and offer basic collection of aluminum, glass, paper, plastic and tin. E-waste, or electronic waste, is the latest of consumer waste to clog up landfill space. These items often contain hazardous ingredients like lead and mercury, so awareness of the correct disposal method for these items is necessary. Taking part in donation programs for old cell phones, computers and televisions is a great way to be “e-green”.
The next step in creating a greener existence for yourself and your family would be to reduce the amount of things you use. Reduction in consumption is a key ingredient in going green. Being a responsible consumer is not only about what you use, but how much you use. Did you know the average US consumer produces 4.39 pounds of trash per day? That means each one of us produces an astonishing 1600 pounds of trash per year. Times that by the 300 million or so of us living in the US, this makes for a lot of waste. If we reduce our waste by half, it would have a very positive effect on future generation– perhaps they wouldn’t be living on a giant landfill! Simple changes in your daily life– like using cotton cloths instead of paper towels, reducing the amount of cleaning solution you use or replacing disposable diapers with cloth ones can make all the difference in the amount of waste being produced by each one of us.
Realistically, no one product can be “green” by itself. Being green is ultimately not just the responsibility of a product, but also the person who purchases it. We agree that the term “green” then should define a collaborative effort of consumers, products, and manufacturers. A good example would be for a manufacturer to produce a product that is biodegradable and packaged in recyclable materials. If the consumers also take part in a community recycling program, reduce the amount of product they use and reuse whatever they can of the product, then the impact of the green product would be greener.
Simple changes in your daily life can make a huge impact on waste production, energy consumption and your bank account. Here are 10 simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and even save money:
1. Save energy – Turn off everything! Instead of only switching ordinary light bulbs to CFL’s– also turn them off! Turn off your computers at night instead of putting them in sleep mode – both of these combined can save you up to an average of ¢8 a day – that’s $29.20 per year!
2. Don't Rinse Plates - Skip rinsing your plates under running water before putting them into the dishwasher. Try plugging the sink with a small amount of water and brushing off excess food with a good dish brush (such as our Dish Demon Brush) By doing this, on average you will save 15 gallons of water per load, saving you money. Plus, you will save time – which is what we’re all about (besides being green of course!)
3. Hang Washables Outside to Dry - Get a cloths line or rack to dry your clothes, cleaning cloths and Sh-Wipes. Your things will last longer and you will save average ¢10 per load
4. Don't buy bottled water - You can purchase a filter to make your home tap taste more like bottled water. To use a home filtration system, including the cost of replacement filters will cost around $50 per year, whereas bottled water, drinking an average of 2 per day at about ¢25 per bottle run over twice the cost at $182.50 per year – plus a whole lot of wasted bottles.
5. Claim your unclaimed cash – recycling bottles and cans is not only great for the environment, but if you take them to a local center you will get your deposit back. In California, the redemption value is ¢5 per 24 ounces and ¢10 over 24 ounces on soda cans and water bottles. Check your state’s recycling program for more details.
6. Use Concentrates – Using concentrate cleaners, such as Red Juice and Blue Juice save money and packaging. Each bottle is the equivalent to 20 bottles of cleaner. By reusing the same spray bottles you are creating less waste.
7. Use Cleaning Cloths instead of Paper Towels. Paper towels create over 3,000 tons of landfill space a day and they aren’t budget friendly. Cotton cleaning cloths are made from natural material and last much longer.
8. Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
9. Increase the efficiency of your electric appliances. If you must use a dryer, consider adding dryer balls to cut drying time and use a dryer vent brush to keep the exhaust clear which will save electricity. You can also use a refrigerator coil brush to keep your refrigerator coils clean, which will keep your refrigerator from constantly running.
10. Walk or Bike whenever possible. Besides being a very healthy alternative, you’ll save lots of money on fuel costs. When you have to drive, you should carpool if possible
Please share with us your going green tips! We’d love to hear your ideas on what it means to be green!