Siksika Nation, Alberta, June 20 Flood. Photo: Poks Komapii
We all want to do our part to protect the environment, but without a large paycheck, that can be seem difficult, if not impossible. But doing your part doesn’t have to be hard. Small steps add up to a big difference, you just have to know which ones to take.
Since the massive flooding in our area last week, and the subsequent water bans in the area, we have really been placed into a position of getting “back to basics”. Even though I am quite eco-conscious to begin with, I have quite enjoyed taking this process a few steps further. It is amazing how catastrophes such as sudden, major flooding force us back into awareness of living respectfully in harmony with Mother Nature.
1. Use less water.
Saving water is all about small steps, here are a few that will help save big.
- Shut off the water while you brush your teeth.
- Take showers that are a minute or two shorter – or switch to baths.
- Only flush the toilet when you need to – and try to use less toilet paper. Better yet, when possible, toss the toilet paper into the garbage rather than flushing. It is not water that clogs up a water system.
- Only run full loads of laundry and dishes.
- Buy from sustainable producers. These are farmers, ranchers, and other producers that use techniques that pollute less and use less water. You can do some research online or ask at your local organic market to find these products. I really like free run eggs – I love how they are entirely not uniform. Because they are not factory produced, they come in their natural state of many different sizes, shapes and colors, and the richness of the yellow yolks speaks directly to how rich in nutrients they are. Some free run egg producers have now even taken the extra step to using wind and solar power on their farms. I love this!
2. Use less energy.
If you don’t have the money to buy a hybrid car or convert your house to solar power, you can make a big difference with small changes.
- Buy energy efficient appliances. They may be more expensive, but make up for the increased cost in lower energy bills.
- Unplug chargers when you’re not using them. Cell phone and other chargers use up powers even if there’s nothing attached to them.
- Put devices with remotes, like T.V.s, VCRs, and stereos, on a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them. These devices use a lot of power to run the remote receiver even when the device is off.
- Walk or ride your bike for short trips. Even for shopping – there are so many fantastic bike carriers out there now.
- Buy local products. It takes energy to transport food and other products across the country. Buying local not only supports your local economy, it helps them use less energy.
When it comes to saving energy and water, it’s a great idea to get the kids involved. You can even make it a game. Have them track how much water and electricity everyone is using. You can compete to see who uses the least water. You can often count on your kids to help keep you on track when given the task. For night time teeth brushing, we use a small cup – only half filled – of previously boiled water rather than running water from the tap. Using their favorite ‘character’ cups makes them excited indeed! Awa enjoys her fairy cups, Neeno loves his ‘Thomas’ cups, and Seesha likes her princess cups. It’s a win-win.
Most of us know the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, but when we work on conserving, we often leave reuse out of the picture. While you can often find tips on how to reuse common products from other people, what you need most is creativity. With a little thought there are many items around your home that can be reused – toilet paper holders can be used to sow seeds for the vegetable patch. And old yogurt containers can be cut into strip to make plant labels. Old food jars can be refilled with homemade foods or can make great impromptu vases, and even better, they can be used for making your own fresh, organic sprouts!
Use environmentally friendly products. When you go to the grocery store, you probably see more and more “natural” or “eco-friendly” products every time. There are generally two big problems with these products:
a) Just because they’re more natural than regular products, doesn’t mean they’re entirely natural.
b) They’re often expensive. Be cautious of “greenwashing”. Natural does not mean organic.
If you want inexpensive, natural, safe products, a fantastically simple method is to make them yourself. Vinegar is a great way to clean and disinfect glass and other surfaces. If you are trying to remove stubborn stains, simply add some baking soda to your vinegar cleaner. Baking soda is an amazing natural cleanser for stubborn buildup on pots and pans, it’s like ‘Comet’ but without the nasty chemicals! My husband also ingests a ridiculously large amount of tea, and our teaspoons quickly take on a residue. I have used sea salt to remove this in a flash! A quick online search will lead you to hundreds of other natural safe home-made cleaning products.
A few of my favorite books on the subject of making your home more eco-friendly are:
We all knowing that going green means better for the environment, but it’s also much better for you, your children, the planet, and generations to come. Conserving resources also helps save you money, which is something I don’t think any of us are wishing to complain about!
How are you making your home more eco-friendly…