Doing Your Part—Simple Tips for Helping the Environment
April 22 has been designated as Earth Day around the world. And while we’ve written about it before, we believe helping the environment is so important that we’re visiting it again.
Becoming more conscious of the condition of the earth and working toward more sustainable and eco-friendly practices in your home can be daunting. Everywhere, we’re bombarded with marketing gimmicks touting “green” and “environmental” labels. It can be difficult to know where to start, so here is an easy guide for helping the environment in three simple steps known as the “Three R’s.” Let’s get started.
R #1—Reduce. The very best way to begin managing your household waste is to not produce it to begin with. While this may sound impossible, it is actually quite achievable through careful planning and a few steps:
- Take advantage of the bulk food section instead of prepackaged goods.
- Always take reusable bags or containers with you shopping.
- Avoid disposable products like paper towels, plates, plastic silverware, cups, razors, and other similar one-time use items.
- Opt out of paper bills.
- Control junk mail by using unsubscribing websites.
- Choose cloth over paper or plastic when possible.
- Look for items with minimal packaging.
- Purchase items that will last, made from durable materials such as wood, metal, and glass.
- Maintain your items. Ensuring they’re in proper working condition will help them last longer and therefore reduce the need for constant replacement.
R #2—Reuse. If it can’t be avoided to begin with, make sure your products are reusable to get the longest life possible out of items you bring into your home. You can do this by:
- Reusing paper and plastic bags—or forgoing them altogether and opting for cloth or canvas totes bags.
- Make repairs. When something breaks, fix it instead of replacing it.
- Embrace hand-me-downs. Clothing and toy items can be passed down from one kiddo to the next. And once your family is done, donate these items to another.
- Take your own travel mug to the coffee shop for a fill-up.
- Clean out your cupboards, paying particular attention to items that can be reused. Old sauce and pickle jars are perfect reused as food storage containers. Milk and juice jugs can be filled with water and frozen, making for perfect cooler ice.
- Compost your food scraps.
- Junk mail makes for the perfect fire starter.
R #3—Recycle. If you can’t avoid it and it’s been reused as much as possible, your next step is to recycle following these guidelines:
- Check with your local recycling regulations. Whether it’s a trip to a center or a curbside service, know the items that can be recycled and start collecting those in a space in your home.
- Purchase and use materials made from recycled products whenever possible.
- Become familiar with common items that can be recycled: aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic, and steel.
- Look at your gently used items as recyclables. Unused clothes, toys, kitchenware, and household items can be taken to a donation center and “recycled” to another home that can still use these items.
This Earth Day, we hope you get a little more cozy with Mother Nature, and realize the impact your carbon footprint has on her sustainability and future. Simple steps can go a long way in helping the environment and ensure a bright future for generations.