Trying to green is an important part of my life, though it wasn´t always this way. I have had episodes in the past where my husband snatched away air freshners that I was happily wielding, not aware of all the crappy chemicals in them. Since then I am learning to live a bit greener and healthier each year, bit by bit. Very few of these changes are actually sacrifices I make for the planet. Many were decisions made to save money (anything that saves electricity), or just because it´s more efficient (menstruation cup) or healthier (organic food).
Living in Germany means I am by default greener than inhabitants of many other western countries (energy is expensive here, packaging of products is regulated by the govt and line drying is easy) but still I know I could do more. I have lived in countries where people live much more simply and sufficiently, so it pains me to see how much is wasted in the West.
I made a list of things of green changes that I have implemented since I have my own home (and these changes make me really happy). I also made a list of some of the many things that I could do better. At the end of the year I will review it and hopefully I will have improved.
My green efforts:
Around The Home:
- Using baking soda & vinegar to clean, or eco-friendly cleaning products.
- Reusing packaging material.
- Buying as much organic food as I can afford.
- Organic & mostly local fruit & veggie box with almost no packaging arriving at my home every week :)
- Energy-saving bulbs in half of the lamps at home.
- Giving away instead of throwing away (freecycle, asking people, or putting things out on the curb).
- Microfibre wash cloths for the home and my face.
- Commuting by public transport.
- Eating vegetarian food that is high in raw plants and low in animal products.
- Avoiding soy.
- Buying secondhand very often (ebay, flea markets, people I know, thrift stores).
- Using cloth diapers part of the time (this is one of the few things on this list that takes an effort to do).
- Not buying drinks or bottled water (the tap water in my town is really good, BTW).
- Eco-friendly laundry detergents that come in refillable packs :)
- Sorting my trash with care and disposing of problematic stuff like old medicines responsibly. (I know: duh, but I´m still surprised at how many people don´t).
- Bricks in the oven & bottles of water in the fridge to cut energy usage.
- Not using drier cloths / paper napkins etc
- Using rechargeable batteries almost exclusively.
- Power strips almost everywhere to prevent energy draining.
- Always shopping with cloth bags.
- Passing on all magazines that I have read.
In The Garden:
- Collecting rain water in the garden for watering plants.
- Not watering the garden (apart from container plants & newly planted stuff). The trick is to not have even an inch of exposed soil, there is something growing everywhere and I never plant anything if I read that it needs watering all the time. Ok, I´m also too lazy to water anything regularly).
- Composting raw food leftovers.
- No chemical pesticides or fertilisers.
- Thrifting a LOT, for clothes as well as for stuff for the home.
- Organising clothes swaps.
- Using the cup.
- Mostly natural personal-care products.
- Always having my Sigg bottle with me.
- Using mostly natural / alternative medicines
- Trying to buy ethically when I can afford it.
What I would like to change:
There are probably a million things that I´m not so happy about and want to change. Here are the things on my mind right now:
- Switch my bank to a more ethical one, or at least one that doesn´t invest in nuclear energy.
- Long and hot showers, need to be shorter and cooler.
- Have the computer on standby more often.
- Be more efficient while washing dishes.
- Toilet train kid no.2 soon.
- Think before I buy stuff, to minimise throwing away stuff that very soon broke / I don´t want any more.
- My favourite teas come in tea bags that are individually packaged >:(
- Forgetting to bring my non-disposable coffee cup.
- I should access online supermarket newsletters instead of picking up paper versions.
- Research which chocolate brands are slavery-free.
- Stop accepting free crap. Even if it´s free, it´s still crap.
- Try Furoshiki with thrifted scarves instead of gift wrap.
Things I wish I could do, but not really possible right now:
- Buy in bulk. Not an option for a lot of things, besides I still haven´t dealt with the pantry moths. Besides, I don´t have a car. (Ok, in the end I´m still greener).
- Top loading washing machine, not going to get replaced by a front-loader any time soon.
- Stop buying from cheap stores that carry stuff probably made in sweatshops.
- Heating the house a lot in the winter (kids love to wear as little as possible by day and won´t stay covered at night).
Any ideas of not-too-difficult changes I could make ?