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Going Green: Simple Steps to a Healthier, Greener Lifestyle

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Simple Steps to Getting Greener

Being GreenWhat we consider to be normal everyday routines could inadvertently be causing damage to our environment. Many of us assume that going green will be costly as far as time and money. But everybody can contribute to a better lifestyle with just a few simple steps.

One idea to reflect on is the food we consume. Farming animals for food results in greater greenhouse gas emissions than transportation and has a devastating effect on land, air, water and biodiversity. The vast amount of water waste is surprising, not to mention the healthy grains that we ourselves could be eating. The pesticides we use to protect our foods not only cause smog, but leave harmful residues lingering on the very fruits and vegetables we eat. However, consuming organic fruits and vegetables grown locally, ensures that the food is raised without the use of industrial insecticides and won’t require travelling around the world to get to our plates. Just as turning fruit and vegetable peels that we dispose of as garbage into compost enriches the soil and nurtures the plants that not only feed us, but produce the majority of our oxygen.

And not many of us are aware of the effects of the packaging our goods are preserved in. Most plastics are made from oil and take thousands of years to break down, meanwhile trickling dangerous chemicals that scatter into waterways. Plastics endanger wildlife that get entangled or mistake for food and are poisoned. Styrofoam containers from take-out food take up space almost endlessly. Just imagine the money, land and pollution we could save merely by filtering water or obtaining it from fresh fed springs rather than buying it bottled. Buying in bulk lessens not only the waste of materials used for maintaining goods, but the number of trips made to the store. Moreover, cooking at home is not just healthier for us, but replaces the need for disposable containers with reusable ones.

Furthermore, the daily household supplies we use may contain contaminates. While striving to keep sanitary environments for our families we are unknowingly causing harm because of not being aware of what these products are really composed of. Quite often cleaners are made from pollution causing petroleum compounds. We rinse, pour and flush these chemicals down drains and though they go to treatment plants they still end up in our rivers and lakes and eventually make their way into our oceans where they promote the growth of algae. The algae spreads in such abundance that it deprives other plants and sea life of oxygen, suffocating them to death. Some of the elements found in our favorite shampoos and detergents are just as detrimental. Luckily, in today’s market there are a number of green cleansers being fabricated that can be found right on the shelves of local stores. Conveniently, you can even create your own at home from vinegar, baking soda, lemon, soap, and warm water. Organic and natural detergents and shampoos can easily substitute your old commodities and are so much milder.

Likewise, how and where we shop can have an impact on the environment. We buy things we don’t need, unaware of better alternatives. When making toy selections, pick items made from natural materials, keeping in mind that plastic playthings’ will clutter landfills for a long time. Items obtained at thrift shops, garage sales or consignment shops cut down on resources and staples needed to make and ship something new. When browsing for clothing or home accents contemplate buying or making selections from organic cotton, which reduces the amount of insecticides used to grow it. Washable linens and hankies lessen the impact of greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of paper towels, napkins and tissues. Reusable and organic bags eliminate waste and some stores pay you to bring your own. Borrowing books from the library would cut down on paper and ink.

Then there’s the matter of electricity. We tend to leave lights and televisions on in rooms not being occupied and don’t always unplug electrical devices and turn off computers when not using them. And during all of this, pollution is being discharged from power plants. Just as when we dry clothes in a dryer instead of hanging them outside on a clothesline or in the basement on a rack near the furnace. But now that we understand the consequences of our actions we can put forth our best efforts to pay more attention. Washing laundry in cold water rather than warm and taking shorter showers also conserves energy. Exchanging incandescent light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs helps prevents energy loss plus they last longer.

Our means of travel take a toll on earth. Walking, biking, taking advantage of public transportation, and carpooling all benefit the environment. Opting for hybrids and vehicles with smaller engines decreases our carbon footprint. The more knowledge that is presented to us, the more opportunities we have to change how we conceptualize and realize that bigger and more are not better. Any strides in the right direction will make our world more compatible as a whole.

–Kelly Morrissette is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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