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One of my favorite things about the beginning of a new year is all of the “Best of” lists that crop up everywhere in December and January. What can I say; I’m a girl that loves lists! Since, one of my resolutions was to put my eco-conscious beliefs into action, I’ve been reading and saving a number of lists about being more green in my daily life. There’s a lot out there, so I’ve whittled it down to the 10 things I really want to concentrate on and (let’s face it) the ones I predict will most successfully blend into my life.
USE BOTH SIDES OF PAPER
My small two-person office uses an incredible amount of paper (so much for computers creating a paperless office). I keep my supply of one-side printed paper and use it for to do lists, printing for-my-eyes-only reports (especially good for year-end reports that are large and always go through numerous revisions) and I add ten or so sheets to the fax machine when I leave the office to print all the useless ads that come though during the night. If you have kids, take some home (make sure there is no confidential information on it first) for doodles, painting, drop cloths, etc.
PICNIC WITH A MARKER
Sometimes, (say a picnic or a party), you need to use disposable cups. But as soon as you set yours down, it gets lost in the sea of other drinks. Bring along a felt tip marker so people can mark their own cup and easily keep track of it. Bonus: you’ll have a lot less half empty cups to dispose of at the end of the night.
The smarties at Wire & Twine say “Take a few moments once a week to make a list of all the errands that need to get done, and see if you can batch them into one trip.” Not only does this one involve a list (yay!), it will also save you time, gas and maybe help you get a little more organized.
GO VEGETARIAN ONCE A WEEK
I know the vegetarian lifestyle isn’t for everyone, so here’s a way to actively cut back on your animal consumption and introduce yourself (and the family) to all the veggie options out there. If you’re in need of ideas, check back here on Tuesday for my famous veggie taco recipe – even the kids will like this one!
PACK YOUR OWN LUNCH
Here’s another one that I always intend to do but let slip away from me. This year I vow to pack up my leftovers in my eco-friendly containers and bring them to work. Check out this adorable RuMe bag from delight.com to use as a reusable lunch bag. It will prevent me from wasting food, save some money and provide a healthier lunch than the greasy spoons around my office.
PLAN YOUR PAPER USE
I am truly ashamed of the amount of paper towels I consume. To help me cut back I did two things. First, I pulled out my colorful and cute kitchen hand towels and placed them conveniently around the kitchen. I added a small hook over the drawer at my sink so there is always a hand towel in easy reach. I also added an over the door hook system in my storage closet. I hang old towels and rags on the hooks for clean ups around the house. If the towel can be reused, I hang it up to dry for the next spill. Ladies, I’ve been at it a week and can already see a difference in the time period between paper towel refills!
Start using organic cleaners instead of your old favorites that may contain harsh, toxic ingredients. I’m a fan of Method products and the good people at Bon Appetit “recently tested and loved the nontoxic, organic dishwashing soap from J.R. Watkins.” They also recommend dye-free, biodegradable sponges from Twist.
MAKE YOUR OWN GREEN CLEANING PRODUCTS
I discovered some great recipes for home made cleaning supplies using fresh lemons at Go Green Tips for Moms. To me, nothing smells as clean and bright as lemons and these moms provide the information for lemon based all-purpose cleaners, furniture cleaners and more.
PATCH YOUR KIDS CLOTHES
Another site based on raising kids green is EnviroMom. Check out this post where one smart mom stretches out the life and length of a pair of jeans by adding some adorable and kid-approved patches. Cute!
TIME TO DITCH THE PLASTIC BOTTLES
I finally mastered the art of drinking my body weight in water everyday and now I need to feel bad about the water bottles? Sad, but true. Those bottles add up quick and are packing landfills all over the world. The Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Colored Water Bottles are a stylish (available in a number of colors and sizes) and reusable solution. Bonus: you’ll save money by refilling the Kanteen yourself, instead of purchasing another $2 plastic water bottle.
My last tip? Start slow – I know it can all be a bit overwhelming at first. Start with picking just one or two changes that you want to make in your daily life and go from there. You’ll be rewarded when you see just how simple it is to make a difference. Please share some of your best green tips with us!