There are many ways to be green. Hopefully, one would choose to be green in all aspects of life. I know it is what I strive to do. When new to the green scene, it is easiest to choose one faucet and then go from there. I am definitely no expert and have plenty of room to learn. However, I have read some books and done some research.
From what I found, there are three main areas of the green movement. Here they are:
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
2. Love animals, don’t eat them.
3. Choose organic.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
This one encompasses a lot and is open to interpretation. Implementing this concept into one’s life to any extent will make an impact. What is great about it is it can be so easy. I could write for a very long time on this topic and not get tired of finding ways to reduce, reuse, and/or recycle. I love this concept so much that my best friend constantly points out any item with the symbol to me, suggesting I should buy it. Yesterday, it was a pair of earrings (No, I did not buy them). I plan on writing a post devoted entirely to this topic. Because I know all of you are itchin’ to get started on being green, I will give you a few tips on how to do this.
Buy a reusable water bottle and stop using the plastic, disposable ones. Caution: stay away from ones with Bisphenol A, more popularly known as BPA. BPA is a chemical found in some plastics that gets into whatever is contained in the plastic (water or food) and then is consumed by us. There has been talk about the negative effects that this may have on us. From what I have found, the results of the studies are inconclusive as of now. To be safe, I’d say steer clear until it can be proved that BPA isn’t harmful. There are 7 types of plastic. Type 3 and sometimes type 7 contain BPA. The plastic number can often be found on the bottom of the bottle. Because of the controversy surrounding BPA, many companies have started adding “BPA free” to the packaging making it easier for consumers.
Reuse paper. Instead of tossing the newspaper or magazine after reading them, use them to clean instead of paper towels or to protect fragile items when packing. Print on both sides of the paper rather than just one. You can even buy recycled paper!
Recycle at home and/or work. Many cities have a recycling program that involves someone coming and picking up your recyclable materials in the same manner that your trash is picked up! Call your city or look online for a list of what can and cannot be recycled.
* Benefit: Not only will you be friendly to the environment, you will save money!
Love animals, don’t eat theThis is my personal favorite. Your diet can be green too! You don’t have to love animals to choose to not eat animal products. As I wrote in my “About Me” section, I have always been a bit of an animal rights activist. Although this influences my choice to abstain from eating animals, there are many other reasons for a plant based diet. Remember my mention of global warming in the last post? The United Nations has identified that raising animals for food is one of the largest contributors to global warming. Find out more about this here. Some of you may be thinking, Well the cows are already there, why not eat a hamburger? or perhaps you are thinking, How can me not eating this hamburger/piece of chicken/slice of bacon make a difference? YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Every choice you make, has an effect. The more often you make that choice, the greater the effect.
In the article I hyperlinked, the UN does not tell us that we should all stop eating meat to fix the global warming problem. Doesn’t it make sense though? If we stop eating the product these factory farms are producing, they will decrease the amount they produce thus leading to a decrease in green house gas emissions. If the idea of giving up all animal product is too daunting for you, try not eating meat for just one day each week. It makes a difference. More about this topic to come.
*Benefit: A plant based diet is cheaper than an animal based diet… yet another way being green will save you money!
When a product is labeled “organic” it basically means what it is made out of was grown/raised naturally and without added chemicals. In regards to produce, pesticides were not used and the crop was not genetically engineered or altered. When it comes to animal products, the animals were not treated with antibiotics or hormones and were fed organic feed. It may come as a surprise to some of you that what is considered “organic” is not the standard. Unfortunately, what is “normal” would scare many of you… maybe even make you vomit if you have a weak stomach. Organic produce may not look as pretty as non organic produce but it is how nature intended it to be. A lot of produce is genetically altered to look better. The pepper/apple/lettuce/name any produce item was created in a lab to look how we have told farmers we want it to look. Society as a whole has become so vain that we cannot even eat a piece of fruit that has a discoloration even if it tastes the same (maybe even better!). For the same reason, crops are sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals that get into the soil which then gets into our water. We are bombarded with chemicals that we are not meant to ingest. Scary, huh? Maybe there aren’t numerous studies published stating the negative effects that come from all of this, but I would rather err on the side of caution and stay as chemical free as possible. What about you?
Many grocery stores have special labels or even entire sections to make organic produce identifiable. To be labeled organic, it has been certified by one of a few agencies. The packaging on the product will most likely have the label of whichever company certified it. Take a look on the packaging/tag and see what you find.
Unfortunately, organic products tend to be more expensive because it is more expensive for the farmers to maintain the produce and is more labor intensive. So buy organic when you can. For produce, if there is a thick skin or peel around the part that you eat, the fruit/veggie itself will not have as many of the chemicals in it. An example would be you peel a banana. The thick peel helped protect the part you eat from the chemicals it was treated with. On the other hand, a strawberry does not have a peel and fully absorbs the chemicals from the soil. Moral of the story: buy organic strawberries and not bananas if you have to make that choice.
*Benefit: Our bodies are faced with less foreign cells allowing our immune system to focus on fighting invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses… perhaps you will not get sick as often.
This was a long one. I hope it was as easy for you to get through as it is for me to talk about it! All three of these topics deserve more time and will get it at some point. For now, I hope I provided enough information to help ya’ll start going green. Even if it’s just dropping that soda can or water bottle in the recycle bin rather than the trash bin.
You can read more from Katie Edelen on her blog.