10 Easy Ways to Go (and Save) Green

Green living seems like a bit of a cliché sometimes. We all know it’s important, but little actions can seem inconsequential or trite. A few weeks ago we talked about the basics of going green and some simple things you can do. Continuing with that theme, here are a few more easy ways to live green.

1. Buy Local, Seasonal and Organic

We belong to a CSA though Wellspring, a local organic farm. This means that for 20 weeks in the summer we get a big bushel box of fresh, organic produce right out of the garden! To supplement we visit the farmer’s market on Fridays in town, grow a garden and belong to a local co-op (Outpost). Similarly we try to eat seasonal food as much as possible. Nothing is quite as delicious as a juicy peach in the summer, or a crisp apple in the fall. Eating locally, seasonally and organic means our food has to travel less; produce loses fewer nutrients and has a smaller footprint. We are supporting local agriculture and business, and we know that our produce doesn’t contain chemicals and pesticides.

2. Cook and Eat at Home

Why go out to eat when your food is this good?

We rarely go out to eat, and not only does it save us a ton of money, but, as I said before we have a blast doing it. Cooking at home means less waste because we aren’t using Styrofoam take-out containers, straws, cups, wrappers, and other food packaging. Now, granted, some of the items we eat do come pre-packaged, but being at home also means that we have the luxury of recycling, reusing packages, buying in bulk and composting.

3. Don’t Forget the Library

Look at this selection! For free!

Your local library is every Green Peep’s best friend. Seriously, have you been there lately? There are books, DVDs, CDs, just like you remember BUT now there’s also eBooks and Zinio! You can download all sorts of magazines for free with no subscription. Most libraries are networked with several others, so if there’s something you can’t find on the shelves of your town library you can order it for delivery in just a few days. It is literally the world at your fingertips, for free, without adding anything else to the landfill.

4. Compost

Obviously, that leads us to #4. Composting is easy and becomes kind of fun, once you start doing it. We have a counter-top compost pail where we toss our coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, paper, cardboard and other compostable items. Then it goes out to our garden bin—a modified trashcan that Sam drilled holes in. We add yard waste, grass clippings, leaves and organic material, and give it a shake ever few days. We have ample rich, amazing compost matter for our garden beds when we do spring planting!

5. Green your Clean Routine

(Okay, that really rhymes)….Paper towels, disposable toilet brushes, chemical cleaners…all of these items are not so green or eco-friendly. Not only that, but they are expensive, and clutter up your pantry and storage. The majority of cleaners can be made on your own, using simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Not only will your house sparkle, but it will keep you and your family safe from exposure to unpronounceable chemical components.

6. Be Sure Your Beauty is Bunny-friendly

I was a beauty product hoarder (my email address used to be lipgloss_addict, for real), but do you know where all those tiny tubes, lotions, soaps and other items end up? Not only that, but do you know how they are created? While brands like Revlon, Covergirl, L’Oreal are not exactly green (or cruelty-free) there are more and more mainstream brands that are! Try the Yes to… Brand or E.L.F. To find cruelty-free brands watch for the leaping bunny symbol or visit leapingbunny.org for a list. Get creative to repurpose your containers. Some retailers (MAC, Origins, Kiehl’s—all are not leaping bunny certified) accept empty containers for recycling. Terracycle works with Garnier (also not leaping bunny certified) to accept packaging and containers from their products. Otherwise, consult the Where to Recycle List on Ecolife for a list of places you can recycle almost anything!

7. Unsubscribe

Eliminate junk mail from your life. Opt for e-statements and online bill pay whenever possible. Any time you receive a piece of junk mail take a few moments to remove yourself from the list. Then, take it a step further. Unsubscribe from ads and retailers that clog your inbox as well. You will be less tempted to spend, and less apt to see things that seem like “great deals” but are not really needed.

8. Refashion

One of my favorite blogs, Refashionista.net shows readers how blogger, Jillian repurposes, revamps and refashions used clothing into something new, exciting and super cute. Even if you aren’t a big fan of sewing, consider if you can find your next clothing purchase second hand, or if you can modify an item before tossing it out. Engage your friends in a clothing swap to trade gently used items. Teach yourself to do small mending repairs—replacing buttons, fixing a fallen hem or tiny hole, and when all else fails, you can always create dust clothes, rags, or figure out another way to reuse the item.

9. Why Buy When You Can Find?

The next time you need an item, check Craigslist, Freecycle, or post an A.P.B. on Facebook to see if anyone on your friends list has the item. You might be surprised at how quickly you can find practically anything you might need when you ask around Sam found some paving stone (for free!) on Craigslist last year, and used it to create a beautiful Xeriscaping feature in our front yard. A friend of ours gave us a bathroom mirror that he was tossing out, and another friend gave us some more stone for the backyard (we did a lot of landscaping last year)!

10. Barter, buy and trade

Four dollar skates from Goodwill

You can always check second-hand stores as well. Just last year I found a pair of roller skates (awesome, brand-new vintage skates), an ice-cream maker, new in-the-box, party decorations for a work event, and a myriad of skirts for work, all at Goodwill. Check out flea markets, Ebay and rummage sales for awesome décor, household items, dishes and more. With a good scrub, a coat of paint and some “sprucing” you can revamp almost anything you need. Plus, you’ll have awesome style and can give new life to things that would otherwise be discarded or sent to the landfill. So what ideas do you have for going green? How do you incorporate green-living into your routine in a practical way?