What Is Going Green?
“Going green” is a catch-all phrase used to describe someone that considers their environmental impact before shopping. This refers to shopping for products with natural ingredients, reducing products purchased, or recycling products you purchased like water bottles. Going green is a vision of a world where people can buy products that are biodegradable and do not produce environmentally harmful waste. Everything produced has a direct impact on the environment, thus shopping choices have significant impacts on the environment. Some people don’t have control over their purchases, but for many people, they have the power to make a difference in the world around them.
15 Things to Consider Before You Shop Green
Moreover, going green can be part of your process of cutting back on your electricity usage, recycling, or driving your vehicle less. However, going green is a lifestyle change. Consider how much you’re taking out of your life that is considered waste, non-biodegradable, or toxic; and what will be added as part of a routine to do-it-yourself (DIY) like making soaps. The question to always consider is what you buy from a store that you can make yourself or replace with a “greener” product, which will take us to the first thing to consider before you shop greener.
1. Think about making your own. Consider if you will be making your own shampoo, body wash, detergent, cleaning supplies, and hand soap. With what materials will you be making these products? If you can’t do this, find shops near you that sell homemade soaps, or buy online from a local person that makes homemade soaps, clothes, and other items. Sometimes you will find that there are people in your town that are making these things, and you can support a local entrepreneur. Baking soda, vinegar, and lemon cleans surfaces in the home, and they are cheap and eco-friendly. Besides cleaning supplies, are you going to sew your own clothes, buy clothes from consignment shops, or good wills? When considering the land, energy, and water used to produce clothing, it is the second highest environmental impact behind food purchases.
2. Think about initial costs. For example, if you want to grow more of your own food, you will begin with initial costs for land, soil, seeds, plants, and tools. And, if you intend to preserve the garden vegetables, you may need to invest in a freezer, pressure canner, mason jars, and canning ingredients. Other initial costs for going green may be the cost of solar panels. Common renewable energy resources are solar energy and wind energy for people’s home. If you want to water your house off-grid, consider the costs a rain collection system as well, and how to purify the water.
3. Buy produce from farmer’s markets. If you can’t grow your own food, then buy produce, jams, and other things directly from the farmers. Avoid buying imported food that was shipped long distances. If there are not farmer’s markets nearby, buy local ingredients from grocery stores. One of the biggest problems with the current food system, however, is grocery gaps. Many people live in food deserts and resort to eating from the most available gas station. Although some may be apprehensive in doing this, if there are roaming areas such as the woods, forests, fields, then explore for wild edible foods that are away from roads. There are many areas with wild fruits, greens, mushrooms, roots, and shoots that are edible, and delicious, and free.
4. Stop using plastic bags. Are you willing to take cloth bags for your groceries and other items every time you go to the store? You don’t have to buy the typical bags that are advertised in the grocery stores, reuse your own bags from home or make your own bags.
5. Avoid buying food in plastic. To avoid buying food packaged in plastic, this means you will be buying more whole food vegetables. This also means you’re eating close to a vegetarian and vegan diet. As mentioned, food is one of the greatest environmental impacts because of the animal farming industry produces greenhouse gases such as methane which is worse for the environment than carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.
6. Avoid buying items that cannot be recycled. When buying online, or buying almost any item in a store, will be wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam. Avoid buying beverages and water in bottles. Remember for one bottle of water, fossil fuels are used to make, transport, and dispose of that one bottle.
7. Compost food scraps. Compost is a necessity in gardening. To create compost, saving food scraps from produce and mix with carbon rich material such as paper. Store in a bucket inside and regularly take out the compost and add to the garden.
8. Up-cycle, recycle, and re-purpose items. Remember the adage to reduce, reuse, and recycle. In general, reducing consumption of products will reduce waste and energy. To reduce the amount of waste that sits in landfills, re-purpose materials as well such as reusing old socks or shirts, reuse containers or jars.
9. Donate items. As mentioned, it’s better to avoid buying more ‘stuff’, and instead give back to those in need. In turn, avoid buying new things when you can fix older appliances, or purchase second-hand. Additionally, only buy things that last if having to buy new.
10. Turn off lights, appliances, and unplug chargers that are not in use to save electricity. Some appliances will still use energy when not in use. Let the sun from the windows shine in to offer natural lighting. At night, use candles to light a room at night or Holiday tree lights that use less energy, while accenting a room. Also, upgrade home appliance, windows, and other features to the more energy efficient appliances.
11. Use less water. While you should avoid drinking anything other than water, and drink plenty of it, people use a lot of water when they shower. You don’t realize how much water you use unless your bathtub isn’t draining. A vegan diet also cuts back on the water usage because large amounts of water go into producing one hamburger.
12. Bike, walk, or drive less by carpooling. Vehicles are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, but walking and biking only burns your own stored energy.
13. Go paperless with the electric and water bills. Use email instead of sending paper envelope, and cut back on paper products like buying birthday cards and wrapping paper for gifts by replacing with old newspaper or old gift bag that can be reused.
14. Use less toilet paper. Toilet paper is not a green or sustainable product. Some people have started using cloth towels instead of toilet paper because they can be reused and they last longer.
15. Replace menstrual pads and tampons with green products. For example, silicone menstrual cups can be reused every month for a year. Many customers use them for up to five years or more. if you’re not comfortable using a cup, reusable cloth pads will last for years.
Subsequently, a greener world is one with less skyscrapers, mega stores, factories, and more farms, gardens, and local shops with homemade items. One could say that being green is a political statement against the pollution, waste, mining coal, fracking for oil, clear cutting forests that people produce and consume. Recognizing the issues of pollution that people participate in will allow others to consider many factors to combat their own carbon footprint. At least we can somewhat control our own electricity usage, refusing plastic bags, or using less water. But, the key to a greener world is not by individuals alone—it will take putting pressure on politicians, corporations, and world leaders to cut emissions, make products more sustainable, phase out plastic, oil, and gas by replacing with renewable energy sources.