I’ve said it many times on this blog, sometimes it’s hard to be green. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the little things that make big impacts are not hard to do, but I often feel like it’s an all or nothing game. That I’m a hypocrite if my entire life isn’t “green” in literally everything I do. One such thing I can’t seem to get myself to do is the recycling. Oh the guilt that surrounds me with this one act. And boy do I feel like a hypocrite for not doing it. I preach on this blog and to friends all the time about easy habits that they can incorporate into their daily lives to ease into green living, and I do all of them. We’ve even done upgrades to our house to reduce our carbon footprint. But the recycling? Well….

When I lived in California the city made recycling exceptionally easy. They brought a special can for specific items, and I was able to keep those cans right outside my kitchen, this equals easy on my daily life. Have I mentioned I like EASY? My home in Nashville, not so easy. They do not provide special cans, and you pay a premium to have recycling picked up. OK, not a big deal, I’m happy to pay it. However, it’s the fact that I have to buy special bags, and then try to keep those bags in my kitchen; that is extremely small where I can’t even find room for one trash can. How about the garage? Nope it’s filled with way too many things because I work from home, plus I’ll just say it, I’m lazy. The garage is a good 25 steps away from my kitchen. It requires me to walk through the dining room, living room and hall to get to the garage, and then down 7 steps, around the car to get to the trash area. This is not easy, this is complicated. And like you, I am busy. So I sink back down to the land of hypocrite guilt.

But here’s the real truth, it is not an all or nothing game. We are killing our planet. In only 50 years we have consumed more resources from our planet than in any other time in history. Keeping your head in the sand and thinking this whole global warming thing is just hype, well it’s just ludicrous. We all need to do our part, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. There is no such thing. Sara Gilbert’s book,The Imperfect Environmentalist, is a testament to how you can ease into the green game. And luckily, as I look around, I’m really not doing that bad. I’ve incorporated a lot of little things into my own life that I know are making a BIG difference. And to each his own. What looks simple to me may not be to you, and vice versus. You may love recycling.

No matter what it looks like, just do something! Here are 19 easy habits to be more eco-friendly in your home that I think are fairly easy. And I apologize for the caps – it appears I’m shouting, but for some reason wordpress won’t let me communicate with normal letters so apparently it’s passionate about the environment too!

eco friendly

  • All Natural Cleaners – I’ve been doing this for over five years. It’s surprisingly easy to do, safe for the entire family, including pets and small children, and it’s super cheap! Go to a big box store like Costco and buy bulk Vinegar, Alcohol and baking soda and you’re set! Not sure how, I explain it here.

  • Use containers – The shear volume of plastic bags we use in every area of our lives is mind boggling. Opt for tupperware instead for saving food, storing food and making lunches. I prefer this Glasslock Container Set because I’m not a huge fan of plastic (it stains and I’m against our dependence on oil) but I have many clients who love this Rubbermaid set too. I don’t care what you use, but try to ease up on the amount of plastic bags you use.

  • Eliminate Produce bags – On average one person uses 10 plastic produce bags while shopping for groceries. Switch them out for reusable produce bags. My favorite ones are from flip and tumble. I have three sets, (although David gifted a few to someone when he left a stack of them at the store a few weeks ago) Super easy to use, washable and mine are about three years old and still going strong! And let me just point out, even if you only use them HALF of the time, you prevent 240 plastic bags from going into landfills. Super cool!

  • Bring containers – OK, I’ll admit, this one isn’t for everyone because this can be cumbersome. But you can bring storage containers with you to the store to eliminate packaging. This is helpful when buying grains, nuts and candies. If you eat meat, you can also use these. Because I don’t buy these items every time I go to the store I can swing this. I’ll bring three to four containers with me and stock up, and I usually do it on a day when I’m not buying weekly groceries. This can prevent 4 to 5 packaging items from going into the trash and over the course of a year can add up!

  • Reuse bottles – I don’t buy water bottles. But I do buy a lot of Kombucha , and let me tell you, they make great water bottles! Soak them in hot soapy water, maybe use a little vodka and the labels come right off. I use these everyday, travel with them and take them to yoga. I even dropped one once when I was leaving yoga straight onto the asphalt and it didn’t break!

  • Reuse jars – Pasta sauce, pickles, salsa – you name it, they all come in great jars! Clean them up, peel off the labels and use them to store nuts, cookies, grains, cereal and more! You can even buy vinyl chalkboard labels to make them look fancy!

  • Buy bulk – I mentioned this above with the containers, but buying bulk can benefit the planet in many ways. It eliminates excess packaging, and the overall carbon footprint is reduced. Plus it’s gentler on the wallet! Bonus!

  • Get rid of a car – Ok, so this isn’t for everyone, but a soft movement is starting to occur across the nation where families are eliminating one car. I have four friends in my circle that have done this, including myself. Cars are a lot of things, but they are contributing to a lot of smog, which is destroying our air quality. (I should say I was shocked to learn that Tennessee is in the top four of worst air quality!) Not to mention the cost associated with owning 2 cars. The average american is paying $1200 a month to own two cars. Ack! Put that into a retirement account or pay off your debt.

  • Shopper bags – Most stores now offer these but if not a canvas tote is perfect to shop at the grocery store, clothing store, Target or where ever else you shop. Its an easy way to eliminate plastic.

  • Use shop rags – Rather than using a hundred paper towels, use inexpensive shop rags. I have tons of these all over the house. They are great for spills, clean up and even cat puke. Yes I went there. Use with your all-natural cleaners and then throw in the laundry. Easy peesy!

  • Loose Tea – I don’t know about you, but I drink a lot of tea. And when I found out I couldn’t drink green tea or black tea, I was searching high and low for great alternatives like this loose tea from Davidson’s. Unfortunately, traditional tea has a lot of packaging. Loose leaf tea is a great way to eliminate excess waste, and if you have a tea store near you, bring your own container and buy bulk tea for even less waste.

  • Eliminate meat – Oh the hate mail I will receive, but that is ok. Meat has a larger environmental impact on our planet than cars! Just google it and then watch this mind blowing documentary. And if you cannot give up meat,  try giving it up one or two days a week, remember the goal is small steps to ease into big change.

  • LED bulbs – Initial cost can SEEM prohibitive. When David and I changed out all of our bulbs it was $500. ACK! But we replaced them 2 years ago and have a life expectancy of another 13 years before they burn out. They have lowered our footprint significantly, lowered our electric bill and they don’t put off as much heat as traditional bulbs.

  • Update your House Mechanicals – This is something that can be done over time, but things like your toilets, water heater and even your HVAC system can all be replaced with highly efficient, energy saving models that are easier on the planet.

  • Vampire wire – And if nothing else, if you have zero desire to do anything, just unplug electrical wires that are doing nothing – like phone chargers that are not charging anything.

  • Use linens – rather than using disposable napkins or paper towels, use cloth napkins at dinner. Can you say, EASY??

  • Skip the paper – Opt out of paper bills and go paperless. Everything is online now and records are easier than ever to have in the cloud. Skip the paper, save a tree.

  • Turn off the lights – I can still hear my dad in my ear from when I was a kid. “If you leave the room, turn off the lights!” To this day I’m a psychopath about lights. Thanks dad! But also a super easy eco tip!

  • Buy preowned or Swap –  Lord have mercy, we are a consumer driven society. Buy, buy, buy. Rather than buy new, buy something previously loved. Buy vintage furniture, swap clothing, and toys, and stop the consumerism.

I just watched a documentary on Netflix called PUMP. It not only talks about our dependency on oil, but it also discusses how oil has created unhealthy consumerism. Not to mention a monopoly without choices. A GM motors executive went to China 20 years ago and thousands of men rode their bike to work. He said the streets were filled with bicycles. Now, the streets are filled with cars, and the citizens have to bid thousands of dollars just to have the option to buy a car because their air is so unhealthy and the streets are flooded with too many cars. Just think about that…..And China is quickly becoming the leader in overall demand on oil.

So am I perfect? Nope not even close. I still can’t bring myself to deal with the recycling. Awful, right? And I know my neighbor secretly judges me for this. “She’s preaching all this eco crap and she can’t even do her damn recycling!” But I just have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t an all or nothing game. I do a lot for my planet including all 19 tips above. I try in every way possible to make impacts that also work within my lifestyle and are easy. My life is complicated enough – but if we keep destroying our planet we’re gonna have a lot more complicated things to deal with, but until then, I’m going to keep adding the things I can manage, things that make sense to me and my lifestyle and maybe someday soon I will conquer the dreaded recycling…..

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