You’re definitely already aware that reducing your carbon footprint is a worthwhile investment for both yourself and the environment. But what does that mean in practice? It’s much more than just using less energy or recycling more often. The truth is, I discovered it’s about looking at how you conduct your life and, identifying the consistent, daily changes you can make to have a large-scale impact on the environment.
Going green can seem like a daunting task at first but with some simple lifestyle adjustments or precise planning, you’ll start appreciating the difference and, proudly execute your contributions to preserve the planet before you know it.
Here are five effective tips for going green:
1. Give up plastic bags (please). Reusable bags are pretty inexpensive and can actually be found in most stores at the checkout.
Keep them in your car or purse so you have a green option at your fingertips when you shop and wash them regularly.with eco-friendly products after use to clean and sanitatize. Most places are now charging for plastic bags so you will also save money in the long haul by investing in a few reusable bags.
I once had a part-time job as a cashier at a major retail store where you can buy just about anything. It was during this period of my life that I learned the value of reusable bags to the environment and, it was always nice to engage in meaningful conversation with the customers who cared about how they impacted the planet while packing their recycled bags.
I was also often amazed at how strongly some people detested even the thought of their items going into a plastic bag. While others sadly enough complained about having to pay for both reusable bags and, plastic bags but frequently decided to buy tons of plastic bags on every shopping trip.
2. Get reusable cups and containers for office drinks. You can wash and keep them at your desk or storage area and make it fun by getting a cup with an inspirational or funny quote.
While working at a small call center a few years ago, a co-worker was a huge fan of the color pink and, her cubicle could easily be the picture of “pink” beside the word and definition in the dictionary. However, included in her delightful coral bubble were various engaging reusable pink mugs, containers, a recycling bin, and other items that contributed to keeping everything in her space green and environmentally friendly.
A lot of thought went into personalizing her small space while doing her part for the planet and, it was quite impressive to see how she maintained her personality while being conscious of her carbon footprint.
3. Pack a sturdy water bottle and reusable utensils.
This is an easy way to reduce waste without having to do a huge amount of research or planning to switch to a green lifestyle. Simply buy a reusable water bottle and utensils which you can get as a set or single pieces. Keep them in your bag, car or somewhere convenient. That way you’ll always have a reusable drink container when you need it and easily eliminate using plastic utensils.
4. Plan your meals ahead as often as you can. To be honest, this one can be a bit of a challenging undertaking. However, it’s totally worth it once you master the coordination of including planned meals into your routine. The good news is, if you decide on your meals for the week, it’s much easier to go grocery shopping and only buy what you need.
It also helps with meal prep and makes cooking more efficient than if you try to figure out what you want every day after work when you’re already exhausted and more likely to impulse buy. All of your unplanned meal decisions can lead to overspending and wasted products in the future.
5. Use public transportation regularly instead of your personal vehicle. Whether that means taking the bus or the subway, make use of the opportunity to avoid being stuck in traffic and feeling stressed out while doing your part to lessen your carbon footprint.
Consider walking or riding your bike instead of driving. Since I don’t drive, I know for a fact that getting around town by foot or by bike is a great way to reduce emissions, connect with nature, release stress and stay fit all at the same time.
Plus you get to see the world around you clearly instead of a blur as you drive through it. It’s also easier to stop and smell the roses, discover under the radar local establishments or even pet a friendly puppy and, that’s absolutely a great mental health bonus.
Walking in the downtown core of Toronto approximately two decades ago I started noticing the presence of an elderly homeless man in my neighborhood who I passed by on a daily basis. He never asked for anything but always greeted me as I walked by with a nod and a pleasant smile. Some days I would have enough money to put whatever I could in his hat on the ground and others I didn’t but, he was always respectful regardless.
Something about him was different. He was always wearing the same tattered tailored suit, worn out dress shoes that looked like they had seen better days and, his only obvious possession was a brief case that was mostly covered in dust. He was distinctive in an odd sort of way but I never stopped to engage with him beyond nodding and giving whatever I could.
One evening on my way home I was walking with a friend and I’m not sure why he decided to stop, say hello and, give some change to the same homeless man I passed by everyday but, he did. We somehow ended up having a conversation with him and discovered his name was Robert. The story he shared with us about his circumstances and presence on the streets of Toronto is that he had hitch hiked and walked all the way from the United States to Canada after losing his family in an accident.
The homeless man turned out to be a college professor from Texas who was so devastated by his loss that he couldn’t function the same without his wife and children. Robert had literally walked thousands of miles to escape the pain of losing everything he valued.
Needless to say we were truly impacted by his story but he wanted no part of being pitied and as we all sat on the cold, hard pavement that mystical evening I learned how truly valuable our limited time here on earth is.
I’m not sure what happened but I never saw Robert again after that day. I imagine he did make it to Vancouver because he had a plan to see the ocean there. I sincerly hope he found the peace he was so desperately searching for as he walked his pain away and, unconsciously reduced his carbon footprint.
So grab your reusable shopping bag, an interesting mug for beverages and remember to check your local bus schedule so you arrive on time for the fabulous day you’re going to enjoy while effectively being green in your stunning, thrifted vintage outfit. Who knows, you just might discover a life changing story or two along the way.