Green living: Celebrities do it, the interwebs is full of people doing it, magazines, tv shows, books, whole stores have been devoted to the gospel of green. But how does one get to “green,” especially when you’re starting from a water bottles and disposable everything existence, as so many people are? It can be done, you just have to pace yourself, and pick a place to begin. Here are some suggestions from the shallow end of the green pool. When you feel comfortable, wade in a bit deeper, and before you know it you’ll be swimming happily with the other neo-hippy fish in the slightly judgey end of the deep green sea. (Oh, please, like I am the only one who’s judgey? Take a long hard mirror gaze, Grocery Totes McGee, then come on over, and I’ll air pop some corn while we watch Fraggle Rock on Netflix.)
- Break down compound packaging.- Pasta boxes, cereal boxes, toothpaste, bulk buys, all of these things come in compound packages, meaning part of the packaging is recyclable cardboard, and the other part is non-recyclable polystyrene. If you break them down, which takes all of five seconds, and can be strangely satisfying, then you can recycle the cardboard and discard the rest. This may seem like a no-brainer, but how many of us actually take the time to do it?
- Menstrual Cup- Fellas, and the squeamish might want to skip this bit. I am SUPER earth conscious, and I used the earth friendly tampons for years, but somehow the existence of the menstrual cup managed to evade me until last year. What is it? Here’s a link. It may sound a bit bizarre, and it is a definite adjustment, but it is SO MUCH EASIER and more reliable than the old standbys. It is a bit of a cost up front, but what you will save in the long run, not to mention in time, worry, and waste make it more than worth it. Most come in multiple sizes, because every body is different!
- Eat Seasonal, Eat Local, Eat Leftovers- Want to eat seasonally, but aren’t sure how? The best way is to eat local. Now sure how to do that either? There’s an app for that! On top of that, there are amazing sites like Edamam that make cooking so much easier. Type in what you have in your fridge, and BOOM! Edamam does a linear search of tons of recipe sites, and pulls up fantastic options that make it easy on even the novice locavore. (Tip, use Edamam when making weekly meal plans (assuming you have the time for that sort of thing!) to help minimize leftovers and cooking time.) Meal plans are another great way to avoid waste, but some folks (yours truly included) have a hard time with structure!
- DIY Clean Machine!- DIY, again, this seems like a no brainer, but for many it also seems really intimidating. There are tons of DIY sites and tips out there, but if you read my first blog for Ooh Belly, you are probably also aware of the pitfalls of those sites. So, here are some ideas and links to DIY earth friendly cleaners that actually work, take no time to make, and don’t have to be pretty…
- Citrus Vinegar Cleaner- Get 5 lemons, cut them in half and squeeze most of the juice out (save the juice for later). Put the mushed lemons in a quart mason jar (or Tupperware, or empty pickle jar, or whatever you have on hand.) Cover them in white vinegar, add back ¼ cup of juice, and let them soak for 3-7 days. Strain mixture, and mix with equal parts water (and optional 10 drops tea tree oil, or 15 drops lavender or rosemary oil IF you have it, but it is not necessary) in a spray bottle (dollar store, Fred’s, Dollar General, or the travel section of any drugstore), use to clean EVERYTHING. Seriously. It works on everything, and disinfects as well as Lysol without all the scary chemicals.
- Foamer Bottles- You know those awesome foamer soap bottles? Buy one for every sink in your house, then buy a bottle of your favorite Dr. Bronner’s. (Most stores carry it now. Not just health food. I have found it at Target, Walgreen’s, and even most local grocery stores.) When the foamy soap runs out, use a 5:1 ratio of water (5 parts) and Dr. Bronner’s to refill. One bottle of DB should last you forever. (And yes, as the label says, you can use it for effing everything.)
- Laundry Detergent- Grate a bar of your favorite soap (Dr. Bronner’s works here too, but any soapy soap will do. No “beauty bars,” or “body bars.”) Mix with 4 cups Borax, 4 cups baking soda, 2 cups Oxi-Cleaner of your choice, and optional essential oils, if you want a scent. Store in a clean, dry, container, and use ¼ cup per wash. (Non sudsing and safe for “High Efficiency” machines), Non toxic, baby safe, and the whitest whites ever!
- Stop Using Paper Towels- Tear up old sheets, old t-shirts, or (dollar store again) go buy cheap re-usable rags. They do all the same things that paper towels do, and with your new eco-friendly laundry detergent, will be SO much better for the environment. (While you’re at it… stop buying tissue. Toilet paper works just as well on your nose. Unless you have hayfever, or a cold… then get the soft stuff, because, “ouch!”)
So, it’s not rewriting history. It’s nothing revolutionary. It’s Eco-Friendly Living 101, we all have to start somewhere, and once you begin, it is SO easy to keep going. The more that you try, the more that you’ll find you want to do. (Really. It becomes sort of like a game. You’ll find yourself greenifying things in your head all the time!) No need to go full on “green crazy,” all at once. (Unless “all or nothing” is your thing.) Take baby steps, or it can be completely overwhelming. Let it come with time. It’s not always easy being green at first, but it’s the right thing to do, and man, does it feel good.