Ten Ways We Became More Green To Help The Environment.

April 26, 2007

The last year has been big for us, as we have gone out of our way to try to make ourselves as green as possible without changing our lifestyle too much. I get emails all the time from people thinking that the small things they do will not matter, so why do them at all? In response, I wanted to put together a list of thing we have done (both small and large) to try to encourage others to do the same. If everyone does the small things, they will have a big impact worldwide.

1. We have switched grocery stores. We used to go to Trader Joe’s for all of our groceries, but we realized that we were always stopping somewhere else (Whole Foods, Wild Oats) in order to get organic fruits and vegetables. And that just added to our time in the car, the gas we used, and our own personal time. So we switched entirely to Whole Foods…it is a little more pricey, but we can get everything we need, from vegetables to cereal, and most of it is organic and/or natural. This saves us time and gasoline, and it allows us to eat as much organic food as we can.

2. We sold my wife’s car. I have been working from home now for 7 months, and living here by the beach has its perks in that I do not need a car anymore. I can walk anywhere I need to go, be it the grocery store, post office, bank, etc. I do have a bike that I use to ride to tennis class, and I have a bus pass and Flexcar membership in case I need to go outside my bike riding range. This not only lowers our CO2 output, but we have one less car payment, one less insurance payment, and one less parking spot to pay for. It has been about 1.5 months now and so far so good. If you live somewhere like I do, consider getting rid of one of your cars!

3. We are making a conscious effort to try to buy organic cotton and sweat-shop free goods. I just recently bought a pair of eco-jeans from Levi’s that cost me no more than a pair from the Gap. My wife just bought some vegan natural makeup from Whole Foods, and she says it feels totally fine.

4. All chemicals in our house have been banished…we only use natural detergents, cleaners, room sprays, and soy candles. I either make them myself or we buy Seventh Generation or Method products, which work great as well. Even our hand soap is all natural and paraben free. Its the small things that add up, remember that! And these things don’t really cost any more than the regular stuff!

5. Canvas bags are our friends. We no longer need any of the bags that the grocery store tries to make you take with you…even though some of them tend to look at you funny if you bring your own. We have 4 canvas bags that we bring with us to the store every week, so we never get asked paper or plastic. As for the little plastic bags that produce goes in, we keep those as well and bring them back to the store each week.

6. We have replaced every light in the house with CFL bulbs. The light is the same as regular bulbs, but these last 10 years and cut your electricity costs significantly. They are available in almost any size now, so you can even replace those weird shaped bulbs in the bathroom!

7. Living in Los Angeles, running your air conditioning can get expensive…so now we go without. Of course, it took moving to the beach to do so, but still, we don’t even have an air conditioner in our place. Cheaper on the bill, and less emissions to cool down our house! If you do have AC, be sure it is on a programmable thermostat so you don’t have it running 24/7.

8. Power strips, power strips, power strips. Even when they are not “on”, your electronics are sucking down power, sometimes at almost 50% of what they use when fully on! When we aren’t using them, we have our TV, DVD player, stereo, computer, monitors, etc on power strips that we shut off at night. That way no phantom power is being used. Saves money and CO2 emissions!

9. Use public transportation. This goes along with #2 above, but we use it even when we have access to our car. When we need to go somewhere that our closest bus line runs to, we hop on board. No need for even more cars to clog up the road when the bus is cheap, easy to get to and you don’t have to worry about parking.

10. Recycle your scrap paper into homemade notebooks. My wife started doing this and I never even thought about it! Anything that we print or she brings home from work that we no longer need, we cut up into 4 squares and make into little notepads we leave around the house. You know, paper has two sides! We have not bought notepads in a long long time!

What have you done to green yourself? Let me know in the comments!

technorati: , being more green,

Filed in: Green

About the Author:

After a varied past of being a test driver for automotive television programs, a Hollywood studio lackey, and an online media sales director, David is now the publisher and editor of The Good Human. In his spare time he rides motorcycles, drinks good beer, and builds stuff in the garage. You can follow him on Twitter at @thegoodhuman or G+ at Google
Like this post? If so, please consider subscribing to my full feed RSS. Or, if you would prefer, you can subscribe by Email:

Enter your email address in the box below. Address will only be used to deliver a daily email and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Comments (15)

  1. Loren says:

    This post really resonated with me. My journey is just beginning, but reading this list made me realize how far I have come. Thanks!

  2. Leo says:

    Great tips. I’ve also started some of these, but this list makes me realize there’s more I can be doing. Thanks!

  3. david says:

    Glad to hear it Loren! And Leo, all the little things DO add up!

  4. david says:

    Shadox, where do you live? We live near the beach and so far have done OK with only one car…

    The CFL light is getting better, the trick is to buy 1 step higher wattage than you used to have. So if you were using 70 watt regular bulbs, dont buy 70 watt equivalant CFL’s…buy 80 or 100 watt equivalents, they give off better light.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. shadox says:

    We switched out most of our light bulbs to CFLs however, I must say that I despise the light they give off, so we’ll still keep a few regular lights.

    I wish we could do without a second car, but it’s not likely when both my wife and I work and we live in California… public transportation is not a real option for us.

    Finally, another great way to save money and emissions is buy Energy Star rated appliances (http://www.energystar.gov/).

    Thanks for a great post.

  6. Wendy says:

    I’ve done a lot of the same things in the last several months. The biggest stumbling block is the car. I looked into taking the bus but in my smallish Midwestern city, mass transit is not very efficient – I’d have to take three buses to get to work (one-way) every day! I am going to try to find at least one person to carpool with.

    I keep reading that people don’t like CFLs because of the quality of light, but I’m not noticing much of a difference. I notice that some of them make a little noise sometimes if I turn them off and then on again.

    Another thing I did was join a CSA. This spring, summer, and fall I will have to figure out how to prepare locally grown organic vegetables.

  7. david says:

    Wendy, the car is usually the biggest problem. But as long as people do what they CAN do, it will certainly help out. CSA’s are great, congrats and good luck to you!

  8. Jason says:

    I too live in Los Angeles. The biggest thing I’ve done (and most fun!) was getting a motorcycle. I get 50-60 MPG and it only cost a few thousand dollars (under 5k) which is a LOT less than a car that gets the same MPG. It’s also easier to park and easier to navigate “through” traffic. Also, in any “permit parking” area in LA (a lot of it!) you dont need a permit to park a motorcycle and the other bonus is that you can go in the Carpool lane.

    I also have done some power strips and changed some of my bulbs to CFL’s.

    Thankfully all of LA can have curb-side recycling as of MOnday July 23rd so my building will hopefully be getting some recycling bins soon.