Four Tiers of Eco-Friendly Commitment
Here I've broken up the "greening up" of a lifestyle into four parts, to help take baby steps into an earth-friendly lifestyle. I recommend that you follow the recommendations of only one part per year for a total of four years. That way you can help make sure your eco-friendly lifestyle is actually sustainable in terms of your money, time, and energy. Make no mistake. This is hard work, but in the long term it will save you a lot of money and heartache.
- Switch buying habits to be as eco friendly as possible. The old adage "Your dollar is your vote" applies here. Make a serious effort to research the businesses that you buy from or do business with. This includes banks and stocks. In fact, merely by having your cash in the wrong bank, you're contributing to climate change because most big banks invest in fossil fuel stocks, loan money to polluters, etc. I'm sure you're aware that big business is doing its best to completely destroy the environment. It doesn't have to be that way. You can usually find good businesses worthy of your hard-earned cash at local farmer's markets, as small businesses online, after a heck of a search online for eco-friendly corporations/big businesses, recommended by eco-friendly newspapers online, and via word of mouth. In fact, some utility companies offer "green" options that you can switch to - for a higher fee of course. Ideally, by the end of the year, you'd be spending every dollar strictly on things that help the planet, not hurt it. Good luck.
- Buy way less stuff
- Tele-as much as possible. Telecommute, learn stuff online, look stuff up online, read library books online, go to school, shop online.
- Invest in things that reduce monthly bills. Good things that help with this include: window insulation, such as pink foamboard insulation panels, heavy white curtains, door draft blockers, caulk and Great Stuff to seal up drafts, plastic film winter window sealing kits, LED lightbulbs, tire air pressure refills, car repairs, shade trees, windbreak trees, porch clothes dryers or clotheslines and clothespins (note: clothes hangers work fine as a clothespins replacement), a bidet, a couple car windshield sun blockers to put on indoor windows for keeping excess sun (and heat) out of rooms, insulation galore, storm windows, and maybe some DIY books like cookbooks. Believe it or not, storing water where your home is best heated or cooled helps to regulate the temperature because it has so much heat capacitance, so if you have 5-gallon jugs or even many 1-gallon jugs (I'm talking 20 or 30), fill 'er up and it will normalize temperature swings. Garage doors can be insulated (see Instructables.com). If your clothes aren't getting very clean despite repeated washings, wash them with 1 cup of vinegar and no laundry soap, then try again. Don't have much money? No problem. Stick some folded cardboard boxes in unused windows and cover them with tacked-up sheets. Put rolled-up towels underneath drafty doors and windows. Some gas stations have free tire air pressure pumps. Look up ChrisFix on Youtube or Scotty Kilmer to learn how to do minor repairs on your car. Arbor Day foundation sells VERY cheap trees and gives you free ones for a $10 membership. You can always upgrade eco-friendly habits with "the real deal" when you have the dough. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Walmart sells $10 door draft blockers that slide on the bottom of the door though. I love those.
- Bundle errand trips and shopping trips so that you only take one or two trips per month to get all of it done.
- Stay at home as much as possible. Getting places via walking or biking doesn't count.
- Dip your toe into DIY by at least learning how to cook. Learning how to budget, clean, keep a home, repair items, deal with bureaucracy, and "adult" in general is also very helpful. See Big Brain Time for more info on "adulting." Also see Lisa Bronner's Cleaning Cabinet
- Register to vote, research all candidates, judges, and issues on the ballot, and vote as early as possible every time there is an election, even if it's just for the local sheriff. Finding the necessary information actually takes at least a week. It's not fun but very worth it. Please, for the love of all that is holy!
- Calculate your family's carbon footprint at Arbor Day and donate however much it recommends you donate. They plant trees and nurture them so they grow. Consider it a tax levied by the Earth that actually makes sense. If you can't afford it just yet, budget for it so you can pay when you are able.
- Use Ecosia as your main search engine, turn off Adblock for it, and click on the advertisements that show up. They plant trees with their ad revenue.
- Don't litter. Come on, what is this, 1950?
- Spay and neuter your pets. If possible, keep your cats indoors. Pick up after your dog and keep your dog leashed in public.
- Drive the speed limit, and try to be chill when you drive. It'll save you money at the pump.
- Unsubscribe from all spam. You can unsubscribe on your email, phone, and mail. See FTC Article. It won't get rid of it ALL, but it will reduce the amount.
- If you have the money, help out some wildlife: Get a rather large plant pot and put flowers in it for bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects. Put out a bird feeder and fill it with organic bird seed. Get a birdbath or even a small concrete birdbath and put water in it.
- Avoid GMO food completely. It's in almost everything these days, but the way it's grown is incredibly devastating to the environment. Look into it and you'll see what I'm talking about.
- If you can't afford birth control, then you REALLY can't afford kids. And unfortunately, neither can our planet afford many more kids. I don't like this because I really like kids but it's the truth. Keep this in mind when family planning. Are you aware that you can buy condoms online?
- Reduce your animal product consumption. Get into lentils, beans, whole grain products, hummus, nut butters, nondairy milks, and tofu. Rice is an exception, because brown rice is not only kind of gross (imho) it's usually stale and may even have arsenic. Sesame seeds and collard greens are high in calcium and help fulfill that requirement instead of dairy. Cashews are the Swiss Army Knife of vegan cooking.
- Start celebrating the changing seasons by enjoying seasonal pleasures. Hang out at the beach in summer, or lounge outside on the porch a little. Collect some leaves in autumn and decorate with them. Make cutout snowflakes in winter. Or do whatever makes you happy. The point here is that deepening your connection to nature will help remind you why this is all so important in the first place.
- Start checking out eco friendly DIY resources and potentially doing some DIY projects. Some good links to help you here include:
- My Reuse collection on Instructables
- My Eco-Friendly DIY collection on Instructables
- My Off-Grid DIY collection on Instructables
- My Cheap Frugal DIY collection on Instructables
- My Garden collection on Instructables
- My Survival collection on Instructables
- Start reading up on the environment itself and educating yourself on how it works. Here are some resources to help with that:
- Your local library. Although in lockdown it's harder to find books about the environment, most (if not all) libraries in the US have online access. Enter your library card number and PIN on your local library's website and you should be good to go.
- Weather Channel
- NASA Climate
- Science Daily Earth Science
- Good News Network Earth section
- Good News Network Science section
- Arbor Day Blog
- Ecosia Blog
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