Green your habits!
A 25-count recipe for a reduced carbon footprint
Engineering a biological battery from viruses or moving to a completely sustainable lakeside cabin may sound like two of the coolest ways to fight global warming, but few of us will get to recount stories as exciting as these to our grandchildren. If you’re like me and live in the hustle and bustle of Sacramento with exorbitant trash production and traffic congestion that can cause people to grow horns and a tail, don’t despair. Carving out a green lifestyle is easier than you think.
Recipe ingredients: Concern for the environment, conscientious thought, a creative mind
Does not contain: A lot of time, energy or money
Instructions: Begin with the 25 simple green habits below. Use or adapt to suit your lifestyle. Sprinkle a dash of creativity to double your recipe.
1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Even if you aren’t crazy about the lighting, select a few places in your home where the quality of lighting isn’t imperative, such as your closets, basement, garage and hallways.
2. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. A family of four can save hundreds of gallons a month.
3. Send an e-postcard to your Congress member to take action to safeguard the Earth. Visit www.nrdc.org/action and select the cause you want your local official to support. It’s simple. The e-postcard is already written. Just type in your e-mail address, click and send.
4. Bring your own mug to your favorite coffee shop. Ask them to fill ’er up instead of using a paper or Styrofoam cup.
5. Use canvas bags for groceries. Readily available at your local grocery store, these durable, reusable sacs eliminate the paper vs. plastic debate.
6. Buy fairly traded coffee. By doing so, you provide small coffee farmers the opportunity to earn a fair profit on their product, which allows them to support themselves and improve their quality of life. Where do you get it? Your local Starbucks sells fairly traded coffee—brewed or whole beans.
7. Replace your paper napkins and towels with cloth.
8. Bank online. Pay your bills online, opt for electronic statements and ask your employer for direct deposit. You’ll reduce paper use, travel to and from your bank, and the transportation required to deliver your mail.
9. Use a clothesline. Reduce the energy you use to dry your clothes and help keep your house cool this summer.
10. Plant a shade tree and get it free! SMUD has partnered with the Sacramento Tree Foundation to provide homeowners with free, four- to seven-foot tall trees. Call (916) 924-TREE to get yours today. Lobby PG&E to start a similar program.
11. Install rain barrels. Set them up this summer, capture fall and winter rain to water your garden next season. Make sure the barrels you buy are compatible with a standard garden hose.
12. Change a green diaper. Eww! I mean a G Diaper—a fashionably cute fabric on the outside, flushable on the inside. Visit www.gdiaper.com.
13. Reduce your meat intake by one meal a week. The beef industry produces more Earth-polluting emissions than transportation.
14. Sign up for SMUD’s Greenergy program. For a few dollars a month, a portion of your energy will be purchased from renewable (green) sources.
16. Go green when you clean. Purchase your cleaning products and hygiene supplies that are made with natural-based ingredients and do not test on animals.
17. Bike to lunch. If biking or walking to work isn’t an option for you, slap your bike on the back of your car and bike to your favorite restaurant for lunch instead of driving.
18. Reduce your trash. Buy bulk products with reduced packaging. Set up a simple recycling center at home—use bins to separate paper, plastic and glass. Compost biodegradable waste if you’re a gardener or dispose of it in the garbage disposal instead of the trash.
19. Turn off lights when you leave the room. Simple.
20. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. No explanation needed, right?
21. Dispose of hazardous materials properly. Visit www.earth911.org to learn how to dispose of more than 250 materials.
22. Say no to junk mail. Visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov to remove your name from these lists. Think of the trees you’ll save!
23. Buy Fido a custom-made dog house made of recycled materials by local Sacramentan, Carlos Taylor. You can reach Wheel Estate Pet Homes at (916) 308-3130.
24. Buy a solar cooker from Sacramento’s Solar Cookers International. Try cooking with the cleanest energy, the sun, with none of the work. Visit www.solarcookers.org or call (916) 455-4499.
25. Grab an Earth-friendly bite to eat. Stop by the Sunflower Natural Food Restaurant in Fair Oaks or munch on fresh fruits and veggies from your local co-op or farmers’ market. Visit www.cafarmersmarkets.com/search to find a market near you.