Wednesday, May 15, 2013

5 Basic Steps You Can Take to Green Your Scene and be More Personally Sustainable

5 Basic Steps You Can Take to Green Your Scene and be More Personally Sustainable

A crash course in green for the timidly eco-challenged.

By Marye Audet
Lancaster, TX, USA | Aug 2009

A lot of people seem to think that going green is time consuming, difficult, or sacrificial. The funny thing about it is, for the most part, it offers a lifestyle that is rich and full. I wouldn't have it otherwise. So, if you are afraid that you will turn into a compulsive eater of organic seaweed and tofu, live in a yurt in the midst of Wyoming, or be forced to ride a bike thirty miles to work every day, well you just lose that thought right now. Everyone can make tiny changes to be more personally sustainable.
I like that phrase, personally sustainable. It is sort of like self sufficient but not so much of a commitment.
You know, many of our parents and grandparents were green without really realizing it. I mean, they did not live in the throwaway society we live in, they bought things and used them forever. Food was stored in glass jars which were reusable and made to last. Do you know that I have a Mason jar that was my moms and I just found out has been in use since 1942? Do the math! That jar has been preserving my favorite bread and butter pickles for 67 years.

Five Baby Steps to Going Green

So, you are willing to at least try a few things? Great. Here are some ideas to get you started. You will almost certainly think of more. To tempt you over to the green side I have given the positive and the negative aspects of each.

1. Make It Yourself

This is a lot easier than you think. Those convenience foods that look so appealing in the package are full of chemicals and flavor enhancers. It isn't real food, you know, any more than silk flowers are real flowers.
Many of the things you use because they are time savers are not saving you that much time. Here are some things you are probably buying that you can make at home, easily and cheaply. You can find recipes all over the Internet for these items. Just substitute organic ingredients for non-organic ones.
  • Catsup – use organic tomato paste as a base. It takes about 3 minutes or less.
  • Syrup- 2 cups sugar to 1 cup water and boil for one minute. Add 2 teaspoons of organic maple flavor. It takes about 2 minutes total.
  • Mayo- you can do this in a blender. Time commitment? Less than 5 minutes.
  • Bread- if you have not read Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day you must close the computer down and go to the library immediately. It really does only take five minutes a day and it is easy.
I could go on but you get the idea, right? You can make almost anything that you can buy in the store and that includes cleaning supplies.
  • Why This Is Green: Making things yourself is green because you are using organic products, less packaging, and fewer manufacturing processes.
  • Personal Benefits: Personal satisfaction is at the top of the list with better flavor and higher quality food coming in a close second.
  • Downside?: You do have to learn to anticipate your needs, be a little organized and think ahead. There is a little effort involved.

2. Get Out of Debt

Work on getting out of debt and then stay out. Learn to live on your income and pay off your credit card balances every month if you choose to use credit.
      • Why This Is Green: Some people use lack of money as an excuse not to buy healthy foods or Fair Trade items and yet they are paying several hundred dollars in interest payments every month. Not having to pay interest frees up money that you can use to support your favorite cause, buy higher quality foods, and live a more relaxed lifestyle.
      • Personal Benefits: You will be healthier, feel more confident and in control, and you will be doing much more for the economy that buying in credit will. A strong national economy grows out of a strong personal economy.
      • Downside?: You may have to change your lifestyle as well as your perspective.

3. Stay Home

Too many people eat fast food as they are driving here and there. Our society is unhealthily mobile. You get off work, come home, change clothes, and then head back out to run errands or visit friends. Learn to enjoy being home by making your environment a sanctuary
      • Why This Is Green: You won't be using gasoline as you drive from here to there. You won't be putting that wear and tear on your car either.
      • Personal Benefits: You will be less likely to buy things on a whim so you will save money. By slowing your pace you will feel more relaxed and less stressed.
      • Downside?: You will be forced to spend time with someone you may not know too well, yourself. It may take a while to change habits and you might feel bored.

4. Shop Local

O.k. So if you are one of those people that is addicted to bananas then you might be afraid to read further. It's o.k., trust me.
Shopping local does not have to be extreme. It just means to try to seek out the small farmer, the independent business owner, and the other businesses that are close to you. You don't have to give up anything, just be more aware of buying local products. As a first step just ask at the closest livestock feed store (and you will surely have one in your area unless you are centered in a huge city) if anyone local has yard eggs for sale. There is nothing like fresh eggs and they likely will be less expensive than the eggs at the grocery.
      • Why This Is Green: You are supporting the local economy, for one thing. For another you can be pretty sure of how ethical the farmer or business is if you are visiting it regularly.
      • Personal Benefits: You will gain fresher food, higher quality products, stronger social network. You can even make an adventure of visiting the farm.
      • Downside?: Depending on how compulsive you get about this you may have to go without certain products at certain time of the year. It is not always totally convenient.

5. Read Your Favorite Magazine Online

Many magazines are now online and even more are on electronic readers like Amazon's Kindle. These devices are great to take anywhere because they are small and easy to transport. They can hold thousands of pages of magazines, books, and newspapers all ready for you to read anytime you like.
      • Why This Is Green: The technical aspects take less of a chunk out of the environment that manufacturing millions of magazines does. Trees are not needed for paper, gasoline is not needed for delivery and it doesn't end up in a landfill when you are done reading.
      • Personal Benefits: You will be saving money.
      • Downside?: It is really, really hard to cut coupons. If you are tactile and need to touch the pages (like I am) it takes a bit of getting used to.

You Can Do It!

It isn't that difficult. Choose one item a month and practice it every day. It takes three weeks to develop a new habit. If you choose one thing to do from the list, or use one of your own ideas every month you will be living a much more self sufficient, much more eco-friendly, much more prosperous lifestyle in less than half a year.

Promoting the optimum health of our land through the use of earth-friendly materials, recycling and conservation practices.