Eco Friendly! Practice Makes Perfect: Small Steps to Going Green

By: Beth Aldrich

Eco Cup FloralEco Friendly! Practice Makes Perfect:  Small Steps to Going Green.  Nowadays, people everywhere are “going green,” but what does that mean, and how can your actions make a difference?  To begin, assess how aware you are of the immediate and residual impact your products and practices have on the planet. If you are causing harm at either of these two levels, whatever you are doing is not a green practice.

I’d like to think that we all want to make the planet a better place. The best place to start is by thinking simple and “sustainable”. Are the products and services that you’re using being depleted, or can they be sustained naturally? What’s consumed should not have a negative impact on your body or the planet in general, or, when that isn’t possible, make choices that have the least negative impact.

The best way to start “living green” is to be open-minded and optimistic about lifestyle changes that have to be made, and then realize that you may not be able to save the rainforest every day, but your simple, small steps can add up to big earthly rewards. Make a personal pledge to the planet and commit to being a part of the solution. Use less, re-use and recycle–everything.

As more people get on board with recycling we all will reap the accrued benefits. Take the daily paper for instance. According to the Recycler’s Handbook (Greenleaf Publishers, November 1990), 62 million newspapers will be printed in the U.S. this week, and 44 million of them will be thrown away. That means the equivalent of about 500,000 trees will be dumped into landfills this week.

A simple solution to this problem is to recycle. It seems like such an ordinary thing to do, yet most of us don’t think of what a big difference recycling our paper really makes —about 500,000 trees worth of difference—each week.  So, get on the bandwagon, fill your blue bins, and drag them to the curb for collection!

To complete the cycle, purchase paper products made from that recycled paper. Shockingly, 98 percent of our toilet paper we buy is made from trees. With the stream of recycled paper that is available should that even be necessary?  We can all do our part to reverse this staggering number by using our purchasing power to cause change, by buying recycled paper products that are soft on the planet. One perfect product is Marcal Small Steps bath tissue; made from 100% recycled paper, you can rest assured that you are making the right choice for the environment.

Another simple way to go green is to use re-useable containers. It’s estimated that Americans use four million plastic water bottles every hour! Yet, only one bottle out of four is being recycled, according to the book, 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Recycle (Earthworks Press March 1994). The solution: a stainless steel, refillable water bottle. My brand of choice is Klean Kanteen, made from plain stainless steel, you know that no aluminum or plastic will leach into your food or water. In addition to tasting better, the water in stainless steel water bottles does not contain harmful plastic residues, a common concern among consumers.

Using less, or reducing, is a wonderful way to go green. By purchasing items with less packaging or buying items in bulk, you vote for “living green” every time you shop. You support companies that use less packaging and you save money in the long run. By having a “green” wallet that chooses sustainable companies with green business practices, you are making a powerful green statement, and you become the ultimate green consumer. So go ahead, vote with your wallet!

The big turn off is actually a turn on! By turning off lights and running water, you save countless natural resources, which makes Mother Earth smile! It’s an easy thing to do, but at times we all seem to forget. For example, place a bowl in the sink underneath the faucet as you run the water to brush your teeth; you’ll be surprised by how much water fills the bowl and goes down the drain, unused. Instead, simply fill a small cup with water, turn off the faucet and start brushing; you really can use a cupful of water to get the job done. In addition to having a beautiful, healthy smile, the Earth will smile back at you for saving gallons of water each week. Keep in mind that by using a low-flow shower head, you can also save gallons of water in your household every day.

Believing that you can make a difference is the key component to your “green” success. Start at home by making simple, small steps. Then, expand your reach and take steps to green your community; over time, you will realize that by cultivating others, you can then, together, nurture the Earth for years to come–leaving a cleaner, greener legacy for your children, their children and generations to come.

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