Just like anything, becoming more eco-conscious is a habit. It takes a concerted effort at first and then before you know it, it takes no effort at all! Here are 5 easy ways to begin your more eco-conscious lifestyle:
1. Buy those reusable bags you see EVERYWHERE! Did you know there is a giant island of garbage in the Pacific Ocean that is 80% plastic? Ew! These reusable shopping bags are cheap and are usually made out of recycled plastic bottles or those offending plastic bags. And they have gotten mighty chic. Hardest part of this habit remembering to bring them with you when you go shopping. I keep one in my backpack so that it is ready should the urge to shop arise. My mom keeps four in her car! And as I mentioned, almost every grocery and drug store have them right there by the cash register. An added saver: a lot of stores are now discounting your total bill by as mush as 10 cents PER BAG you use instead of taking the bags they offer you! And you didn’t even have to clip any coupons!
2. Get RID of your car! I know I know, America is the birthplace of the automobile. But guess what? Those cool cars everywhere cause major environmental damage. California is considered one of the most eco-conscious states (though not as much as my favorite state Vermont!) and yet they produce the most smog due to the sheer amount of cars on the road. Which I should mention also contributes to their world famous traffic jams. When you have thousands of cars sitting on the road wasting gas and not moving, you create air pollution. And they’re expensive! Think about all the money you spend on insurance, parking, gas and mechanics!!! Need to get somewhere? Use those 2 wonderful, natural locomotive appendages south of the border; your feet and legs were made to move you! Ride a bike! Most cities nowadays have a pretty good bike lane system in place, and many more are making major improvements on existing systems. In NYC, for example, one can ride the entire length of the island of Manhattan straight through on Broadway on a safe, paved Bike Lane protected from traffic by barriers. And right now as we speak, The East Coast Greenway is making huge strides that will soon connect every major city on the East Coast of the US. Even taking public transportation reduces traffic and smog. And of course, there are exceptions to every rule: if you MUST drive, buy the most fuel efficient vehicle you can. The US Government recently had a great promotion “Cars For Clunkers” that gave citizens up to $4,500 US to trade in their cars averaging less that 18 MPH for a newer, more efficient one. Good job Government!
3. Start cookin’! Cooking at home not only saves the air from those car fumes we were just speaking about, but its also healthier for you. When you cook, you control the ingredients. This means there are no mystery ingredients in your food. I know for a fact that McDonald’s puts SUGAR on their fries to make you thirstier so you will drink more of that soda they sell. And, those so called “Healthy options” on those national chain menus, may not be so healthy after all! A lot of them contain HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and fake ingredients to keep their calories and fat content down. That does not sound appetizing OR healthy to me. The hardest part for this one? Figuring out WHAT to cook!!! The rest, is actually fun. Get the whole family involved!
4. Shop at your local farm stand or grow a garden! Every city in the great USA now is home to at LEAST one farmer’s markets every summer. Some are even open all year ‘round! Support your local farmer and buy direct! It not only saves money, but also saves the environment because you are supporting produce from next door instead of halfway across the world. Plus, its healthier because the produce can stay on the plants for longer, infusing more nutrients and vitamins!. This also forces us to eat seasonally, which many food experts are saying is actually healthier. When you eat seasonally, your body uses what it needs depending on your climate and time of year. The more food you eat that has been produced and grown locally, the more of the local environment you are putting into your body, and acclimating it to the area.
5. Use your money as your vote! When you buy locally grown, sustainably produced products, it shows our lawmakers that we care. It says, “I’d rather buy things made by my neighbors that are healthier for the environment than those that are trucked from across the world.” Money rules the world, they say. Of all the habits, this is the easiest one to do. So choose local!
About our stealthy guest blogger: Beth is the sole owner and member of The Z is Silent, a project to start an all inclusive arts space in Philadelphia. She envisions a completely modular space where artists can present visual, performing and any other kind of art in a space they themselves can help design and work with instead of in. However, Beth has no money. So, instead she fills her time writing nonsensical and whimsical musings for blogs like Chic Vegan and her own Atoms of Minutiae and being an office drone. She lives with her lovely boyfriend, his mustache, a cat and a dog.