100 Ways to Live Greener & Support the Planet
Feng shui teaches us that we are so deeply connected to our environment that energetically we are one and the same. It is known that nature and a healthy planet is imperative to our wellbeing, yet why do so many of us continue to not take action to make it better?
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day I wanted to share a comprehensive list of ways to help today and EVERY day. Greater mindfulness and intention combined with simple lifestyle changes at home and work can collectively make a HUGE difference in the global ecosystem. Read below for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, contribute to a circular economy, create a healthier you, a happier community AND a sustainable future for generations to come.
The first, and most important, step is MINDFULNESS. Awareness, then action. Rethinking your purchase patterns, your daily habits and choices. Look closely at what and where you buy things, where and how you throw them away, and everything before, after and in-between. As a consumer and global citizen you are responsible for all of it! It's now impossible to turn a blind eye to the injustices, inefficiencies and inequalities in our world. This greater consciousness will reveal just how and why our plant is suffering.
REEVALUATE your 'needs' vs your 'wants', your relationship to "stuff" and your personal vision of 'success'. There are so many things in our lives that are not actually essential. Just because something is considered mainstream or normal does not mean it is right for the planet.
RECONSIDER the entire life cycle of your belongings, from how it’s made to where it goes when you’re done using it. There is really no such thing as "away". When you throw something away it has to go somewhere! Everything you buy has a beginning and and end, and YOU have the power to close the loop.
REDUCE your consumption. Lighten your impact by buying only what you truly need and using less to cut down on resources- water, electricity, fuel, paper and plastic. Always opt for reusable or refillable options whenever possible.
REFUSE all single-use plastics and disposables including straws, cups, cutlery, napkins, condiment packets and bottled water. Something as small as ordering a cone for your ice cream instead of a cup can make a difference when multiplied.
REUSE it whenever possible. Reusable products and refillable options exist for almost everything you can think of these day. Invest today in a "permanent" solution so that you can avoid disposable.
REPURPOSE or remake items to give them new life. Everything from glass jars to bags to old socks can be upcycled in some way. Can you find a creative new use for old things by thinking frugally and resourcefully?
REPAIR and mend everything from clothing to small appliances, to give perfectly good items a second chance so that they don’t end up in the landfill and replaced with items that consume resources and energy uneccesarily.
RESTORE damaged ecosystems and replenish natural resources whenever you can. Examples include planting trees, removing invasive species, picking up litter, protecting wildlife habitat and supporting sustainable land use and management practices: conservation, logging, mining, regenerative farming, permaculture.
RESEARCH what you consume to know where it comes from and how it’s made. You may be surprised to discover the hidden truth behind most products and ingredients, even those that are marketed as safe or eco-friendly. Beware of misinformation and “greenwashing” in labels as a cover up for toxic ingredients or harmful chemical fillers.
REEXAMINE your place in world. What is your relationship with the earth? Do you feel connected to the source - why, or why not? Do you feel self reliant and capable, or are you dependent on others and systems? Responsible, conscious consumerism is simply a mindset shift: putting the greater good over the self.
RECYCLE the "right way" by learning the basics of single-stream recycling, familiarize yourself with best practices of local waste guidelines and always looking for the appropriate recycling codes on all plastics, eliminating contaminants.
REQUEST better practices from your local restaurants, favorite businesses and brands that use unnecessary plastics or packaging, or manufacturing practices that are not eco-friendly. Your local politicians also want to hear from you!
Use it up, Wear it out, Make it Work or Do Without
KITCHEN & DINING ROOM
CHOOSE ORGANIC fruits and veggies, or or the conventional ‘Clean 15’, avoiding the toxic ‘Dirty Dozen' of the produce section. Packaged organic foods are also safer you and for the planet because they are void of toxic dyes and preservatives.
EAT CLEAN whole foods that are unprocessed, unpackaged and unaltered (non-GMO). Eating the way nature (and your body) intended not only reduces toxic pesticide use, but also reduces waste while supporting a healthy lifestyle and eating the way nature intended.
EAT LOCAL by supporting local farmers, bakers and makers to reduce unnecessary packaging and transportation costs
BUY PACKAGE-FREE groceries by supporting farmer’s markets and CSAs. Stock up on grains, legumes, loose leaf teas, herbs, spices and other dry goods in the bulk section of your local natural food store or co-op.
SAVE YOUR SCRAPS from cooking and meal prep. This unnecessary "waste" can be repurposed for garden compost, houseplant fertilizer, flavor enhancers, food garnishes, or a base for veggie stock. They can even be re-grown into future fruits or veggies.
GO MEATLESS by eating vegetarian as often as possible. Even cutting meat consumption for one day a week saves innumerable resources from the harvest of livestock.
GO PLANT-BASED by drinking plant milks (oat, flaxseed, hempseed) or nut milks (coconut, almond, soy, cashew) to live better for the animals, your body and the planet.
PLAN YOUR MEALS with batch cooking and meal prep to reduce the temptation to order waste-generating take-out or delivery.
COOK FROM SCRATCH by making diet staples like sourdough bread, soups, stews and condiments. Not only will it cut down on packaging, but it has the added bonus of saving money and calories.
KEEP FOOD FRESH without plastic by using reusable silicone baggies, glass containers, wax wraps, cloth bowl covers and other methods to make sure no food is wasted. The longer the food lasts, the more sustainable and efficient it is!
BUY "UGLY" produce which is intrinsically the same but aesthetically imperfect.
GO PAPERLESS with cloth napkins or "un-paper towels" - old rags for cleaning, or reusable dish cloths.
CLEAN UP your dishes and space with homemade soaps, detergents and cleaners using common household items like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and a natural sponge.
BATHROOM & LAUNDRY
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE by taking short showers instead of long baths, displacing water in toilet tanks, turning off the faucet when not in use and remembering “if it's yellow let it mellow”.
GO PLASTIC-FREE with bamboo toothbrushes, metal razors, paper cotton swabs, fabric shower curtains and silicone menstrual cups.
GO PACKAGE FREE with refillable soaps, lotions, and shampoos. You can even find eco-friendly alternatives like shampoo bars
LAUNDER SMARTER by re-wearing clothes more than once, hand-washing clothes, washing on the cold cycle, line drying, using wool dryer balls and emptying the lint filter daily,
EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE grooming trends like the No-Shampoo or No-shave movements.
MAKE YOUR OWN body care potions, lotions, lipgloss, perfumes, sunscreen, bug spray and more. When made at home in small batches almost everything can be made eco-friendly and nontoxic.
REUSE your toilet paper - as long as it's not paper! "Family cloths" are a growing trend that allows you to save hundreds of trees a year simply by throwing your TP in the laundry.
GO DIGITAL for entertainment and learning by using e-readers for books, using apps and cloud file storage for lists and calendars, online journaling, and streaming music and movies digitally.
OPT OUT of junk mail, catalogs and paper billing.
PRINT SPARINGLY, only when necessary. If you must print something, do so on recycled paper, both sides, in small fonts etc
SEARCH GREENER with the Ecosia search engine which plants a tree for every query. Hopefully one day Google will follow suit!
SHIP SMARTER by using biodegradable peanuts and padding and reusing cardboard boxes or envelopes whenever possible.
LAWN & GARDEN
PLANT TREES in your yard (or out in the community) to improve air quality while providing wildlife food and habitat, shade and erosion mitigation for generations to come.
SPREAD SEEDS of native trees, flowers and other species that are pollinator-friendly, or even edible or medicinal for humans
GROW YOUR FOOD by starting your own vegetable garden or container garden for herbs.
INSTALL SYSTEMS like solar panels to generate electricity, rain barrels to save water, and exterior motion sensing lights to provide security AND energy savings.
HELP WILDLIFE by hanging a bird-feeder or bat box.
EMBRACE THE WILD by letting your lawn grown au-natural without mowing, sprinklers, irrigation systems, insecticides or pesticides.
BRING THE OUTDOORS IN with indoor plants that remove pollutants in the air, and use natural light whenever possible, so that the electric bill is lowered.
APPLIANCES & ELECTRONICS
UNPLUG electronics like tvs and computers when they’re not being used.
TURN OFF lights when not in the room
PROGRAM your HVAC, wifi and other systems to power down at night, at work or when on vacation to decrease unnecessary energy consumption and EMF exposure.
BUY REFURBISHED electronics and appliances direct from the manufacturer to make use of existing resources
INSTALL ENERGY SAVERS throughout your home with CFL and LED lightbulbs, motion sensing lights, toilet bidets, and EnergyStar appliances.
FIX UP and upgrade your home to save energy with new insulation around doors and windows. Repair leaky faucets, running toilets or any other potential source of energy waste.
RECHARGE your batteries. When the "juice" is all gone, make sure to dispose of them properly!
ADAPT to less than perfect temperatures, bundling up to keep the thermostat low, opening windows when the AC is off.
SUPPORT LOCAL by buying products and goods made locally to not only sustain the local economy but also cut down on resources used in packaging, shipping and transportation
CHOOSE QUALITY products that are made to last. When you focus on durability and craftsmanship, for everything from clothing to cookware, the energy and resources used in manufacturing does not go to waste.
GO NATURAL by buying items that are manufactured with eco-friendly practices or constructed with sustainable and natural materials (wood, bamboo, organic cotton, or post consumer plastic). From clothing and footwear to bedsheets and mattresses to recreation equipment and toys, strive to support ethical brands that give back to the earth more than they take.
SHOP SECONDHAND at Thrift, Antique Resale and Consignment stores. Go online with Craiglist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and other online resale sites to avoid buying new, supporting the unsustainable practices of “fast fashion” and other industries based in toxic consumerism.
SPEAK UP to businesses and brands and demand sustainable action. A customer's opinion and feedback goes a long way! You can even tell Amazon to combine shipments and use less waste in their shipping under your account settings.
FRIENDS & FAMILY
CHILDREN & PETS can be sustainable too. Opt for wood toys and play equipment for kids, and cloth diapers and wipes for babies. Choose chew toys made of hemp or other natural materials, and biodegrable cat litter and dog poop bags.
CELEBRATE WISELY by choosing birthday and holiday gifts for loved ones that support the greater good without the footprint, such as regifted items, experiences or consumables.
SHOW YOUR LOVE with a handmade gifts, including wrapping paper or bags and notecards.
PARTY SMARTER, avoiding balloon releases, glitter and confetti and even fireworks.
TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION
GREEN YOUR CAR by keeping tires inflated and removing unnecessary weight or cargo to increase fuel efficiency.
JUST SAY NO to printed paper receipts at the pump, or in the store.
PLAN AHEAD by bringing your own food and beverages in reuseable containers
DRIVE GENTLY and passively to reduce fuel efficiency.
TRADE IN your older vehicle for a pre-owned hybrid, electric or biodiesel vehicle.
DRIVE LESS by shopping online or working from home more.
GO THE ALTERNATIVE ROUTE by walking, biking, carpooling, using a rideshare or public transportation.
FLY LESS to cut down tremendously on greenhouse gas emissions from air travel.
RECYCLE THOROUGHLY, not just the things that can be thrown in your curbside bin. There are tons of resources to support hard-to-recycle items like paint, ink, markers, electronics, carseats and more.
UPCYCLE materials into craft projects, handmade jewerly, or refurbish old furniture. Finding creative ways to give a new life to worn or discarded items decreases the need to produce new or raw materials which cuts down on air pollution, water pollution, landfill use, and more.
DISCARD RESPONSIBLY by not littering, cutting your plastic six pack rings, donating, selling or parting with what you don’t want or need anymore in the safest and most ethical way possible.
DECLUTTER MINDFULLY by staying in tune with the energy in your stuff. Keeping something out of 'guilt' or with a 'maybe one day' mentality does no good as it represents stagnation or a holding onto the past. Good feng shui energy is about the present, the now. Remember, if you're not really using something, it's best for the energy of your home to part with it, with joy and gratitude.
COMMUNITY & BEYOND
SHARE THE ABUNDANCE with your community through age-old systems like bartering, trading, and of course borrowing and lending. A sharing economy can help us all avoid buying new and using resources unnecessarily. Start a community garden or join a co-housing community to feel connected to your neighbors and make a difference in the world.
BRING YOUR OWN water bottle to events, your own food containers to restaurants, your own travel mug to coffee shops, your own shopping bag to the store, and even your own cup, plate and cutlery to parties and social gatherings. Keep everything in your vehicle for easy access so you’ll never have an excuse in creating waste.
VOLUNTEER for local river or trail clean-ups or share your skills and talents with your favorite environmental nonprofit organization.
USE YOUR PLATFORM to educate others on ways to be more environmental friendly. Lead and model green living so that friends, family and coworkers will learn from your example. Post on social media so that your network can see that it’s not as intimidating or difficult as it seems.
SPEND TIME OUTDOORS to enjoy the scenic beauty and mental health benefits of nature, to learn more about local flora and fauna, to pick up trash that you see, and feel gratitude for everything that the earth gives us.
VOTE for a greener future by researching and supporting candidates that value the environment. Whether it’s a local, state or national elections, choose leaders that encourage businesses, corporations and decision makers to follow sustainability efforts and be held accountable.
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
Chief Seattle, 1854
The essence of living greener is my motto: "Love, Light & Less". We can heal the planet simply by simplifying our lives- settling and adapting, going without life’s luxuries that we have grown so accustomed to over the years. The reality is that by having less today, we actually gain more for tomorrow.
From a feng shui perspective or not, our home is our planet, and our planet is our home. Treat it with kindness and respect. Honor and cherish it. Make it beautiful. But also know that perfection is not the goal. Progress is! Take one new step every day. Do it imperfectly. Give yourself grace, and then keep trying. These small actions will have a big impact and together we'll change the world.
Am I missing any green living tips? Let me know!
Love, Light (and LESS)
Erin Bowers is a certified feng shui consultant, energy healer, wellness coach and holistic growth strategist.
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