What does going green mean? It refers to implementing a variety of ways in daily life which contribute to protecting our environment. It encompasses many aspects from recycling a newspaper to living a fully green lifestyle.
The modern green movement has been underway for several decades. It has become more prominent due to the effects of population growth, the evident results of global warming, and the increased ability of scientific research. With new technologies and equipment, research can now measure and evaluate scenarios affecting our environment and predict future outcomes that will affect our lives.
At times I find the research reports informative and fascinating. At other times, I feel they are making me feel guilty if I dispose of a can or glass bottle in a non-environmentally friendly manner. Here’s an example. By recycling one aluminum can, you save enough electricity to power a television for six hours. That’s interesting and I recycle as much as I can but there will be times when a can will go in the trash for some reason.
If you are an avid recycler and living the green lifestyle, I applaud you and the planet thanks you. If you’re tossing that pop can into the recycle bin only because someone is watching you, relax. How much you adopt going green is mostly a personal choice. I realize there are now laws prohibiting burning leaves in the fall and spraying your garden with DDT. But how much or how little you ‘go green’ is really a personal choice. So let’s get going with the tips on how to go green.
Since going green is such a vast topic with numerous options, I’ve placed major categories on their own page. Click the following links to find out more about green options for pets, babies, your home, driving green, even eco-friendly weddings.
Let’s start with one of the easiest ways to go green - switching to reusable shopping bags. These are becoming more popular and you can often get them for free as businesses and groups hand them out as advertising promos. More stores are now charging 5 cents for each plastic bag. Even if you only need four bags a week for groceries, that is over $10 in a year. I keep my reusable bags in the car. If I forget to take them into the grocery store, I just put everything back in the cart and pack them up at the car. The bags with wider bottoms are best for groceries.
Recycling is perhaps the most widespread and widely adopted method of going green. By recycling waste products to manufacture new products, less landfill space is required, less new raw materials are needed, and both energy consumption and air pollution are reduced. It’s a true win win situation.
The Blue Box recycling program initiated in my city in the mid 1980′s with the collection of newspapers, cans, and glass bottles. It has expanded to now accept most paper, glossy magazines, plastics with a recycling number from 1 to 7, flattened cardboard, aluminum foil, drinking boxes and cartons, and plastic shopping bags. The items each municipality recycles varies. So you have to check what is recyclable in your area.
Here’s some background on how blue box recycling got started.
When I walk my dog on garbage pickup day, it’s interesting how things have changed over the years. There are now more blue boxes, often two or three for each home and far fewer garbage bags and garbage cans.
It does take some effort to remember what goes into the blue box. When recycling started in my city, I was living in Australia. So I came home to find a blue box and no instructions on what to put into it. I relate more about my battle with blue box on the About page. I eventually embraced the following philosophy when unsure if something was recyclable. Toss it in the blue box and if it isn’t picked up, it goes into next week’s garbage.
A couple of years ago, my city introduced the Green Bin Organics Program. This came with instructions. The idea is to collect organic household waste similar to what would be put into a compost pile. In fact, the green bin contents are composted and residents can go to the landfill and pick up compost for their gardens.
But there are differences between the green bin and a garden composter. Both take food scraps, paper towels, egg shells, and plant material. However the green bin also accepts meat, fish, kitty litter, and dairy products. The city provided a small container to collect green bin material in your kitchen. I had a container for collecting food scraps for my compost bin so I still use that. I wrap my scraps in newspaper before placing them in the green bin. There are paper liner bags also available.
As I live near Toronto, Canada, I place my food scraps in my own compost bin during the mild weather and about November or December when the lid freezes shut on the compost bin, I switch to the green bin.
Another handy thing, the green bin has wheels to get it to the curb and a latch to keep the raccoons out.
If your area has a Blue Box or Green Bin program, try going green and recycle if you wish. It has a blue bin rating of Get Involved.
Reduce, Reuse Recycle
This is a popular theme. I do some things that I hadn’t even considered as recycling and reusing. Perhaps you haven’t thought of it this way either. I donate clothing and used but still useful household items to local charities. They then give them to needy families or run a small retail shop at very reasonable prices as a fund raiser.
Selling or purchasing at a garage sale helps with reducing your stuff as the seller, and with reusing as useful items find a new home with the buyer.
My city has a program to collect yard and garden waste in large paper bags. These are used to create compost available to residents. Also in the fall, the city picks up leaves at the curb and composts them as well. This is great for me. I have several mature trees with lots of leaves. It’s a lot easier to rake to the curb than stuff all those leaves in paper bags. Sometimes I do miss the smell of burning leaves in the fall that I remember as a child. However, I’d rather have fresher air.
Here’s another great reduce, reuse, recycle idea. Have you been doing some renovations to your home? Did you replace a door, update some kitchen cupboards? What are you going to do with the old ones? Here’s a great place to take them.
Habitat for Humanity has stores called ReStore where they accept used and surplus building materials. They then sell these at a reduced price from the retail cost. This helps them raise money for their home building projects and lightens the load on landfills. I think this is a triple win!
You can also check the ReStore to see if they have some materials you can use for your project and save some money. Find ReStore locations here.
Although setting up for a garage sale requires some effort, I’m rating these suggestions as easy.
More tips to going green and living green are provided on the home page.