Virginia, the state, is a lot of wonderful things, but for a long time we were not what you'd call "Green." I was rarely concerned with keeping the planet beautiful and safe because it just wasn't an issue that came up a lot. For me this changed when I met my freshman roommate, a Oregonian who was often appalled by my tendency to throw things away rather than recycle them.
She set an excellent example for me, showing just how easy it was to do small things that would help in the long run. I'm still not what you'd call an avid environmentalist, but I do try to do my part. At one of my jobs I created a recycling program that they still use, and the first day it started we had over 1000 lbs of paper, that would have been thrown away, going to be recycled.
Last year I bought a book called Gorgeously Green and I really recommend to anyone who wants to try and live a "greener" lifestyle without sacrificing too much of life's comforts. Realistically speaking/writing, there are some things that I will never be able to do, like equip my house with solar panels (unless I win the lottery), but I can change all of my light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, which I have done. They use 2/3 as much energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Here are some other easy ways that can help start you on living your life in an Earth conscious manner.
- Bringing reusable grocery bags with you to the store so you don't need the paper or plastic bags they give you. I have some really cute ones that I got as a present, and they were only $6 and they're adorable! But most stores have them for sale for $.99
- Stop receiving junk mail by registering with Green Dimes.
- Cut down on water use by: replacing shower heads with water saving models. I have one and the water pressure feels the same, I wouldn't know it was saving water if I hadn't bought it myself. Water your lawn in the morning or evening to cut down on water lost to evaporation. When it's time to replace your washing machine, consider buying one that's Energy Efficient. They're a little more expensive, but you get a tax deduction AND you'll save money in the long run.
- Keep your thermostat set to 68 degrees in the winter. In the summer, keep your curtains and blinds shut to keep out some of the hot sunlight.
- Carpool to work if you can and roll down the windows instead of using the AC.
- Have your home heating and cooling system serviced every year. They often find leaks that would end up costing a fortune if gone unnoticed.
- Calculate your carbon footprint and see which areas you could improve in.
- Buy local produce and try to eat organic meat
- Eco-Friendly cleaning products: Mix lemon juice and baking soda for an all-purpose cleaner and use Borax to clean your shower. The Borax works amazingly well!
Some more extreme ones that I don't do, but wouldn't be all that difficult are:
- Reuse bath water on your plants
- Follow the old adage "If it's brown flush it down, if it's yellow let it mellow." (Can't do this with small children who find toilet water fascinating!)
- Buy a hybrid car or one that's fuel efficient (I do plan on doing this with my next car)
- Cloth Diapers
- Lower your water heater to 120 degree