Guest post by : Kay Elizabeth Carter
Conserving the environment and living a more sustainable life has never been more important than it is today. Global warming continues to be a major challenge around the world, greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise, and the well-being of all living things is being affected. There are many ways each of us can begin minimizing waste in our everyday lives to protect the environment and take better care of our health. Here’s a simple guide detailing five ways—big and small—that promotes greener living.
- Start composting
Instead of throwing food scraps away, consider starting a compost pile. Compost is like a natural fertilizer for the soil, helping plants grow and eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. To start a compost pile, combine dead leaves, twigs, vegetable scraps, used coffee grounds, and water. Once you’ve gathered your matter, add the materials to a metal bin and select a dry, shady spot pile: make sure it’s in a damp area or close to a water source so it can get the proper nutrients. When the material at the bottom of the bin is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use.
- Use your vehicle less
According to the EPA, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This number can vary based on a vehicle’s fuel, fuel economy, and the number of miles driven per year, but it typically falls between four and five metric tons. Not only do these carbon dioxide levels contribute to the alarming amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, but they also accelerate global warming and have a direct impact on multiple ecosystems.
Some affordable alternatives to driving your car include taking public transportation or carpooling with friends, co-worker,s, and family. Although you’d likely still be commuting in a gas-powered vehicle, you’d at least be consolidating down to one car instead of two. You could also bike and walk if you live within close proximity of wherever you’re going.
- Repair your appliances
If you have an appliance that starts to break down, consider making the necessary repairs instead of throwing the appliance away. When large, mechanical items like dishwashers or refrigerators are improperly disposed of or illegally dumped, they can contribute to the growing problem of electronic waste (e-waste) and have negative impacts on the environment and your health.
- Make your own household cleaners
By making natural cleaning solutions at home, you’ll be able to avoid the chemicals in most commercial cleaners and prevent buying plastic. Here are a few simple household cleaners to try on your own:
- All-purpose cleaner—Mix together a half cup of white vinegar, two tablespoons of baking soda, and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil to make a versatile natural cleaning product that wipes away mold and excess bacteria.
- Tile cleaner—Combine a half cup of baking soda, liquid castile soap, and 10 drops of lavender essential oil to make an eco-friendly, chemical-free scrubbing paste.
- Window/glass cleaner—Mix a fourth cup of white vinegar, a half teaspoon of natural liquid dish soap, eight drops of orange essential oil, and two cups of water to create a cleaner that won’t aggravate asthma or allergies or cause any sort of negative healthy reaction.
- Reduce paper and plastic use
Paper and plastic are two common items that can easily be reduced in a household. To cut down on paper, cancel all newspaper or magazine subscriptions, opt for paperless billing, and don’t print unless you absolutely have to. To reduce plastic use, buy a cloth tote bag to take with you to the grocery store (this cuts down on the number of plastic bags you use), start buying in bulk, use natural beeswax paper instead of plastic wrap, invest in a reusable metal water bottle, and go strawless.