I’m not an armchair environmentalist. I am more of a militant environmentalist. Here are ten simple things everyone can do to go green.
- Carry reusable bags to the grocery store. Stop making excuses for needing plastic bags. You don’t need and you will not reuse (or recycle) all the plastic bags you get from the stores. I speak from experience. If you stash enough reusable bags in the trunk of your car, you don’t always have to plan grocery trips ahead.
- Recycle. Really, it’s not as hard as it seems. You just need to carry that empty plastic bottle for just two minutes more in order to recycle it. Before you know it, you will stop feeling the pain. 70% of all household trash is recyclable. That thing you’re about to throw away probably is, too.
- Carry a travel mug for coffee. Paper cups are not recyclable. And the plastic lids are worse. Besides, a lot of coffee shops give you cheaper refills if you buy one of their reusable mugs. Or you could carry your own coffee/tea. That’s cheaper, too. Totally worth the effort of washing the mug.
- Buy local produce. It’s tastier, usually more fresh, usually cheaper and doesn’t travel as many miles in a carbon spewing truck. People on the East coast don’t need Californian apples. People in India don’t need Washington apples. Local apples are just as good. We desis can live just fine without our specialty veggies grown in Mexico. It’s time we got used to eating local vegetables.
- Be kind to chickens. Buy organic eggs that come from free range chickens. This means the poor chickens are not cramped in itsy bitsy cages smaller than them and wallowing around in each other’s feces. Not only are you being kinder to chickens, you’re also less likely to buy salmonella tainted eggs. Always a bonus.
- Take a moment to consider the packaging on the product. Especially groceries. A plastic milk container is recyclable. Waxed cardboard, not so much. Single serve packages generate more waste. Buying in bulk is usually cheaper, too. You might be able to reuse the plastic produce bags. Or not need a plastic bag if you’re only buying a single apple. And so on… Saves a ton of waste on frequent purchases.
- If you can take the bus or walk, don’t drive. Not only will you save some gas, you can also get some much needed exercise. I lost three pounds in two weeks just by taking the bus to school instead of driving. (It helps if you carry a 15lb backpack)
- Shut down that computer at night. It only takes a few minutes to start up again. And you can save a lot of electricity by not letting it sleep.
- Unplug the electronics. This is always hard to do. And thankfully, something we don’t need to do in India. I’ve never understood the American concept of not having a switch to control all outlets. But since it’s not the only American concept I don’t understand, I’ve learned to shrug it off. 😛
- Don’t print everything. This is an extremely painful concept for a grad student to embrace. People who carry tons of paper always come across as smarter, busier and better prepared for class/meetings. It’s something we need to get over. I tried printing every paper I needed to read for class. But I’m thankfully over the disgusting habit.
Any more ideas?