The first R in my 10 step challenge for living a greener life is REMOVE. Removing clutter from your home and getting more organized will give you the firm foundation needed to simplify your life and pursue green living. You can also remove environmentally harmful products from your home in the process. What’s the best way to prevent the clutter from piling back up? REDUCE! Reducing the accumulation of junk by saying no to unnecessary shopping will save you time and prevent the vicious cycle of consumerism. But don’t stop there. What else can you reduce to have a positive impact on the environment? Here are some suggestions:
We live in a consumer-driven world, constantly bombarded by advertisements and the pressure to buy our way into happiness. but the accumulation of stuff does not equal happiness, and the endless cycle of having to produce items which will be shipped abroad is taking a heavy toll on the health of the planet. Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it.
The meat industry has gotten a lot of unwanted attention in recent years due to the impact it has on the environment. Meat production requires the use of large swaths of land which results in deforestation. Cows emit methane gas due to digestion which further exacerbates the problem. Reducing the amount of meat or cutting it out all together is not only healthier, but much better for the planet.
Similarly, the dairy industry is also a culprit in environmentally harmful practices. Mishandling of manure and fertilizers can leech into local water sources. Look for dairy free options like oat milk. It’s delicious and even has more calcium than regular milk.
Pollution from plastic has become a growing concern as it takes thousands of years to degrade. Micro plastics break off from bigger pieces and find their way into our food, drinking water, and the environment. By ending our dependency on plastic and using more durable, safer methods for storage, we can help prevent plastic waste from ending up in the ocean.
Disposable items may be convenient, but they results in a large amounts of waste ending up in landfills and other places. Opt for items that can be reused multiple times. This will prevent unnecessary accumulation of garbage, and also save you money.
An individual driving a car might not have a huge impact on carbon emissions, but when the bulk of the population chooses to drive when there are other options, this can significantly contribute to our carbon footprint. If you’re close enough to bike, consider the health benefits as well as the environmental ones. Carpooling and public transportation are also good options.
Water is essential for life and there’s so precious little of it available for drinking. Nowadays, I’m trying to be more mindful of my water usage not just when cooking and showering, but also when shopping. Tons of gallons of water are used for manufacturing food, textiles, and other products. Choosing the minimalist lifestyle means less production and less water usage.
The energy used to heat and power our homes also affects the planet. Turn off electronics when not in use and make sure your home is well insulated so as not to waste energy. Consider switching to solar panels and see how much money you can save by doing so.
Another way to have a positive impact on the environment is to swap out any products that use harmful chemicals for those that are organic. This is not only better for the planet, but also healthier for your home. Get rid of the pesticides and herbicides altogether and look at the labels in common household cleaners. Avoid phosphates, ammonia, and other VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Trees are essential for absorbing the carbon in the atmosphere. Too many trees have been cut down for paper production, but there’s no reason for this nowadays. If a document can be used electronically, go for that. Sign up to be taken off of junk mail lists to reduce paper waste and consider other ways you can reduce your dependence on paper.
This is just a start! What else can we reduce in our lives to live a greener life?