Tag Archives: eco friendly

Are You Greening or Greenwashing Your Life?

Going green is pretty popular these days. Many people are aware that we need to think about the impact we have on the environment in our daily lives. That doesn’t mean we all get it right.

It’s not an easy thing to make your life more eco friendly. There are a lot of challenges that really complicate things. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best.

Can You Go Completely Green These Days?

Most of us can’t do all of the green things we’d like to do. Going completely off the grid is financially impossible for the average family. Most of us don’t have enough yard space to grow enough food for our families for the entire year. Avoiding all plastic is next to impossible.

Most of us
can’t do all of the green things we’d
like to do.

Just go to the store and look at how hard it is to be green, even when you’re trying to shop with the environment in mind. So many companies advertise their products as eco friendly when they really aren’t. So many basic household cleaning supplies come in plastic, even if you use eco friendly cleaning supplies.

To top it all off, many of the people who want to go green don’t know how to see past the greenwashing practices that so many companies have enthusiastically adopted to make themselves look better. Much of the terminology they use is completely unregulated. They can make claims about their products which sound eco friendly but really mean nothing at all.

What Can You Do?

The most important step you can take in making your life truly more eco friendly (aside from getting started) is to educate yourself. Find great resources that will help you to know when a product claim means something. Learn how to make some of the simple changes in your lifestyle.

Really think about the things you’re changing and the things you’re not. Why does your family need two cars? Is mass transit in your area good enough that you could maybe get by on one car? Is a backyard vegetable garden a good choice in your area or are watering restrictions too likely to kill it off? What can you do about that darn lawn anyhow?

Look at your shopping habits. When do you buy? Why do you buy? Do you ever ask yourself if you should buy? Do you really need more or newer electronics in your life?

Not buying things you don’t need is one of the best things you can do for the environment.

Not buying things you don’t need is one of the best things you can do for the environment, especially once you understand how big the “don’t need” category is even in modern life. If you’re shopping to keep up with styles or the hottest technology, ask yourself why. Be sure you have a good answer.

Sometimes your answers won’t be perfectly eco friendly. Your circumstances won’t always allow you to do what you know is the greenest answer. But try. Find ways to break your non-green habits. Keep at it even when it’s not easy.

The environmental effects of the changes you make usually aren’t apparent. But they’re present, not only in your home but in your ability to encourage others to do likewise. The difference one person can make won’t solve all our problems. The example one person can make can encourage others, who can encourage others, who can encourage others as the ideas continue to be accepted. That’s where the big differences may someday come in.

Is Being Eco Friendly Just Too Much Effort?

How do you think of being eco friendly. Is it something that’s just a part of your day or is it something that takes a lot of work? How you view it is probably a big part of whether or not you’re succeeding at being green.

It’s Too Much Work!

Work. Effort. Time consuming. Expensive. Inconvenient.

Those are some of the ways many people see being eco friendly. It’s no wonder people don’t want to concern themselves about the environment when that’s how they see the steps required.

And it’s true of some eco friendly things you can do. Having your own organic garden takes work and is time consuming. Organic and local produce can be expensive and inconvenient. Putting in solar panels is expensive at the start. Reusing things instead of throwing them away is time consuming and may be inconvenient.

Thank goodness not everything that’s eco friendly is really hard to do.

Some things take just a small step and they become easy. Switch your incandescent bulbs for CFLs and you’re saving energy with no extra effort. If you find the bulbs discounted by your local power company they aren’t even particularly expensive.

If your recyclables all go into one bin, having a recycle bin next to your trash cans is easy. It’s a small inconvenience having to empty two cans instead of one, but it’s overall not that hard to manage.

Turning out the lights as you leave a room is easy once you build the habit.

Organizing your errands so that you drive less actually saves you time. It also saves gas, which means you spend less money.

Adjusting the thermostat is easy and saves money. An extra sweater in winter or dressing a little cooler in summer while letting your body adjust to warmer temperatures is surprisingly easy.

Some efforts can become a pleasure. If you like being outdoors or just want to be a bit more active, that garden can provide that while producing wonderful vegetables for you that are far superior to what you can buy at the store. It’s not heavy exercise once you’re done with the digging, but it’s getting you off the couch and into the fresh air.

Isn’t that what parents are always trying to get kids to do? It’s still good advice.

Take Small Steps

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, just pick one simple green step to start yourself off. Small changes are easier to make than big ones. When you’re comfortable, add another, then another.

There’s not much in life that comes with no effort at all. That’s true even of your bad habits. Put in a little more effort and build better ones.

What Small Green Steps Have You Taken? Ready for More?

A few months ago I joined the One Small Change challenge. Today being Earth Day, I thought I would share how things went and where to go from here. Plus I’ll share some Earth Day tips from around the web.

How Did One Small Change Go?

My ability to stick with my changes for One Small Change were pretty varied. Getting to the co-op for fresh, mostly local and/or organic produce has been difficult to say the least. Saturday mornings just have not been the right time for that to be easy for me. But I’m determined to keep doing it when the schedule works out. I love the variety available.

Washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar is actually working pretty well now. I’ve used shampoo every here and there, but it’s maybe every 3 weeks. My hair seems to be adjusting pretty well. So far no complaints from family members. The baking soda and vinegar do a very nice job of keeping my hair clean.

Eating at least one vegetarian meal a week has been very challenging. The month I chose to do it in had a lot of disruptions to my routine, which meant more meals were put together as fast as possible, too little spare time to find new recipes. But once again, I mean to stick to this.

I didn’t even come up with a new resolution for this month. Those schedule disruptions continued in too far. Things are easing up now.

Each of these changes sounded pretty easy, but it’s amazing how hard it is in real life. The ones dealing with food require pretty serious changes in my routine. The hair care routine isn’t really much different from washing my hair more conventionally, so it has been easier to do.

From here, of course, I’ll just keep trying to live as eco friendly a life as I can manage. How easy that will be I just don’t know. But this is Earth Day, and that means people have spent all week posting suggestions.

More Ways to Go Green – Earth Day Blog Posts from Around the Web

Green and Clean Mom offers 10 Ways to Make Earth Day Everyday with tips such as spending less money, using post consumer recycled toilet paper and eating local.

Mother Nature Network of course has plenty of posts on the topic of Earth Day, but I like the reminder to do things, not just attend local Earth Day celebrations. I especially like the reminder to not eat meat for the Day. The guerrilla gardening tip is fun too. My husband loves making seed bombs. And don’t forget the great reminder to let your representatives know you care about our planet!

Mashable isn’t a site focused on green topics, but they get into the act with

5 More Ways to Go Green for Earth Day. I rather think kids will enjoy their link to Green My Parents. Could be a good tool for helping your kids learn about the very real financial and environmental costs of your lifestyle.

Blisstree shares 10 places to volunteer during Earth Week, and they share links to Serve.org or Volunteermatch.org just in case none of the opportunities they list are near you.

Read, Read, Read!

Books are wonderful for learning more about what you and others can do for the environment. If you know you’ll only read the book once, try to get it from your local library. If you’re like me and reread just about everything, your own copy isn’t that bad a deal. If you already own a Kindle or other ebook reader, buying an electronic copy is not a bad way to go either.

Here are some books to consider. I haven’t read all of them, but they look promising, whether by being good for the environment or being good for your family.

I have to start out with two of my favorites, Free-Range Kids and Last Child in the Woods. They aren’t specifically about the environment, but how else are we to get kids to care about the environment if they don’t experience it? That includes giving them the freedom so many of us had as kids.

More titles to consider:

Girls Gone Green
Green Guide Families: The Complete Reference for Eco-Friendly Parents
The Omnivore’s Dilemma and/or The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids
Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It
Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future
Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage
Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet
Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution

Why and When Should You Buy Eco Friendly Products?

If you’re concerned about climate change, pollution or other damage we’ve done to the environment as a species, you’ve probably thought about how you can be more eco friendly. Shopping habits probably immediately come to mind. Those organic bamboo sheets look awfully nice, perhaps?

Should you be buying them?

There’s a right and a wrong way to go about buying eco friendly products. Certainly if it’s something you need, get the eco friendly version whenever possible.

But if you’re just replacing something you already own, think more carefully.

It’s good to buy eco friendly when you’re shopping, but that doesn’t mean you can just shop for whatever you want. Even eco friendly is not an excuse for consumerism.

You also want to be aware of greenwashing. So many products claim to be green, but the claims are pretty thin. Many of these claims aren’t regulated and can be put on just about anything. Don’t assume that terms such as “natural”, “green”, “nontoxic” and similar terms mean much at all. “Organic” and “recycled” are much better terms as there is some oversight on them.

You can also research the claims online. Companies that are offering products they claim are eco friendly will probably share details online, even if there’s not much information on the packaging. If not, you can probably get some good information just by searching on the product name. It’s amazing what some people can find out and will share quite freely.

Certification is good to look for too, so long as it’s a real one such as Energy Star for saving electricity.

For personal care products, check out Skin Deep’s Cosmetic Database. You’ll find out if the products have a lot of unsafe ingredients.

Do buy foods, personal care products and cleaning products in eco friendly versions when possible or make your own. These are things you use up and so you’ll probably be buying pretty regularly.

Don’t go replacing perfectly good but non-eco-friendly products just because you want the green version. If it’s still good it’s probably more green to keep it than to replace it even with the eco version. If you do get rid of things that can still be used, make sure they head to a thrift store, get sold at a garage sale or are offered on Freecycle. Someone else may still appreciate what you don’t want anymore.

There’s a balance to be had in buying more eco friendly products and in being too much of a consumer. Keep an eye on your habits so that you don’t fall into that trap.