Green is more than just a color these days. It is also the term for living a lifestyle that is more friendly to the environment around us. Other than feeling good about doing something to help save the planet, there are additional reasons to consider incorporating at least some green lifestyle options into your everyday routine. As the economy remains unsteady, it is comforting to know that some green efforts just might put a little more green back in your wallet. Add to that noticeable health benefits associated with some lifestyle adjustments and it’s really hard to argue against making some effort to go green.
1. Use Green Transportation
Let’s start with the way you get around. Consider forming or joining a carpool instead of driving to work yourself. Another option is to ride your bike to work, or walk if work is close enough. Many cities have bike trails open to the public. Even commuting with a neighbor or co-worker can make your life a little greener, not to mention cut down on travel expenses such as gas and parking fees. Another option is public transportation. According to one estimate, taking public transportation instead of driving can save you about $70 a month. Some employers even offer incentives for workers who opt for public transportation. Walking or biking are the greenest options. When that is not a realistic option, joining with fellow commuters in a carpool or on public transportation is the next best thing.
2. Reusable Cups, Containers and Bottles
One of the easiest changes you can make when shifting to a green lifestyle is the containers, bottles and cups you use everyday. It may be cliche, but you really are saving a tree or two when you bring a mug, bottle or coffee cup to work instead of using a paper cup. Many coffee shops will offer you a small discount just for bring your own reusable coffee mug with you. Instead of buying a plastic bottle of water, use a reusable bottle to get water from the water cooler at work or the tap. You can extend this to include the containers you use to store your food or even the way you bring your lunch to school or work. Reusable containers may be a little bit more expensive at first, but you will save money – and a few trees – in the long run. Use some reusable shopping bags when you shop for groceries and other items and you’ll be even greener.
3. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Appliances need to be replaced at some point anyway, so this isn’t really much of an adjustment. Selecting energy-efficient appliances cuts down on the amount of energy required to run those appliances. This has a ripple effect and puts less of a burden on the resources needed to produce the energy we use. Fuel efficient appliances extend to everything from washers, dryers, stoves and refrigerators to coffee makers, television sets, air conditioners and computers. You use appliances at home and work. You don’t have any control over how fuel-efficient the appliances at work are – although, since energy efficient translates to savings, it shouldn’t be that hard to persuade your employer to make the switch – but you can control what you have and use in your home.
4. Buy ‘Green’ Clothes
Green clothes today are more than just hemp hats and scratchy materials. Many top fashion designers are making clothing with conscience, as some designers have called it. You don’t have to buy high-end clothing to go green either. All you really need to do is look at the label. Green clothing can include clothing that is made of durable fabric so that it lasts longer or clothing made with organic materials. Even if you just buy clothing that is more durable, you will be making a green effort since you’ll get more use out of them. If you want to extend the green effort, donate your used clothing items.
5. Quit Smoking
Cigarettes spew more than 4,000 toxins into the environment. Quitting smoking is, according to the American Cancer Association, the best thing you can do for your health and the environment. Until you are completely off cigarettes, you can switch to the green alternative – an electronic cigarette. The device looks like a cigarette, but only contains four ingredients. None of them are harmful to the environment. Giving up smoking also means fewer health issues and a little more green in your wallet.
6. Turn Things Off
Simply turning off lights and appliances you aren’t using can do wonders for the planet. You should go a step further and unplug appliances you aren’t using. Even when off and plugged in, appliances can emit phantom energy. Turning things off and unplugging stuff cuts down on CO2 emissions and saves a little green on your electric bill. As long as you are it, replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs – those funny looking ones – and switch to appliances that use alternative energy sources such as solar energy. You can even buy solar powered appliances such as coffee makers and mixers.
A great way to make your life a little greener is to recycle. These days, you can recycle more than just aluminum cans. Everything from clothing to appliances can be recycled. In the age of digital media, odds are you have CDs and DVDs lying around that you no longer use. Some used music stores or electronic stores will buy these and either resell them or properly dispose of them. Even old cell phones, monitors and computers can be recycled. Cell phones can be electronically cleaned and resold or donated for use by the elderly and disabled.
8. Buy Organic
Organic items can be found just about everywhere these days. Even your local supermarket is likely to have an organic section. Organic just means naturally grown. In the summer, a great way to go organic is to look for farmer’s markets. Most of the produce available at farmer’s markets is locally grown, meaning little or no processing was involved. Organic items include more than just fruits and vegetables. You can find organic meats and cheeses and similar items right along side the traditional versions of these items at most grocery stores. Organic clothing is clothing made without natural dyes or materials cultivated without the use of chemicals.
9. Buy Recycled Items
If you are going to recycle, you should make an effort to buy recycled items as well. Most recycled items will either say that they are made from recycled materials or have the recycle symbol somewhere on the product or label. Most of the time, you cannot even tell that an item was made from recycled or partially recycled materials. The manufacturing process usually eliminates any signs of previous use. When you buy recycled items, you can actually see the results of your recycling efforts firsthand.
10. Buy a Hybrid Car
Electric cars aren’t really a practical purchase just yet, especially with the lack of sufficient recharging stations. As gas prices climb, gas-only cars are quickly eating up the month budget. The logical solution is to go with a hybrid car. At one time, a hybrid car wasn’t very practical either – but, times and technology have changed. Hybrid versions of the Cadillac Escalade, Porsche Cayenne, Mercury Milan, Lincoln MKZ and Nissan Altima all boast an excellent fuel economy and impressive performance stats. On top of that, they use about half the gasoline of a traditional car. This reduces emissions and increases fuel efficiency. All good green qualities.
This is just the tip of the green iceberg. There are other little things that can be done to enjoy a greener lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be a shock to your system. Making subtle changes here and there can still make a difference. If others see that you are saving money and enjoying the health benefits of a greener lifestyle, they might follow your lead. There is something to be said for leading by example.