Lighten your Footsteps on the Planet

He who would travel happily must travel lightly. Antoine de Saint-Exupéryshapeimage_2

The future is indeed green.  I am sure you are up to your ears with endless suggestions for greener living.  Individuals young and old,  blogs left and right, and companies big and small (even Clorox!) have  innumerable tips for the Green Planet.  Before they further bombard you with more advice for a sustainable lifestyle, here are simple ways to live a greener and healthier everyday, without breaking the bank.

1.  Energy

One of the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions will also cut loads off your electric bill. Turn the lights off when you don’t use or need them, install energy efficient bulbs, buy energy-efficient appliances (look for the Energy Star rating), and keep a close eye on consumption.

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CLFs).  CLFs use much less power and last ten times longer than regular bulbs.  CFLs are readily available at all hardwares and groceries, and they have all the sizes you need.  They even have candle-shaped CLFs for your chandeliers.  When buying new appliances, buy energy-efficient appliances.  New appliances have an Energy rating and some are proudly sporting the Energy Star.

TIP: Pull the plug, don’t make your electronics sleep on standby as these still pull current. Televisions or DVDs with standby modes can use up to half the power they would draw when turned on. Don’t just turn something off: unplug it.

2. Transport

One of the biggest impacts we make on the planet is through our cars and travel. We’ve heard about hybrid automobiles but since a new Hybrid car seems like a long shot (and expensive,) you can still reduce your carbon footprint by walking (when the route is not so far), biking, or commuting.  Carpooling is also another option.

TIP: Keep tires properly inflated, it saves a lot of gas.  I also read that the way you drive has a lot of effect on your fuel consumption.  Avoid sudden starts and stops and don’t go too fast.  Lastly, get a regular annual tune-up and maintain your car so you also burn less gas.

3. Water

“Every drop of tap water we use also requires energy to filter, purify and transport, and that means fossil fuel emissions.”   Water is also becoming an ever-scarcer resource. It’s easy to conserve water.  No dripping faucets!  Turn the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth, collect rainwater for use in your garden, or practice “selective flush” (don’t flush unless necessary.)  Another way is when washing dishes by hand, fill up the sink and turn off the water. Take shorter showers or shower with a friend (ha-ha!)

TIP: While reading on sustainable living, I learned that we should not dry-clean. They use perc (tetrachloroethylene), a known carcinogen to dry-clean clothes.

4. Food

To bring it back to basics, there are four principles that can help you:  eat local, eat seasonal, eat organic, and finally, eat less meat (the last one, is hard! I’m trying :o)).

You may check my previous article on Local v. Organic and Organic Food: When to Scrimp or Splurge.

TIP: By eating local you save a tremendous amount of wasted fossil fuels and packaging to get the food to where you are.

5. Waste

The 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. A lot of us remember the last R: Recycle but please, always be conscious of REDUCE and REUSE.  Before buying a new item, think twice, or thrice, about whether you need it.  REDUCE.  Or, always REUSE items you would have otherwise deemed as junk or trash. Try to have a paperless office. Find use for the monthly billing envelopes.  Print on both sides of your paper or use up all or most of the spaces on paper. (There is a software that does that, See Greenprint Software.  You can also opt for environmentally friendly paper like recycled paper or Paper One (available at National Book Store.) Resources like Freecycle or Ebay can also help you find a happy home for your junk.

I also wrote an article on Recycling, you might want to check Recycle, but How? and More on Recycling.

TIP: Use rechargeable batteries instead of buying new batteries all the time.  Billions of batteries are manufactured each year and discarded after a single use.

6. Cosmetics

We all know about the impacts of personal care products on both the environment and on our health. There are now a lot of companies providing sustainable and local alternatives such as Planet Noah, Leyende, By Nature Handmade Soaps, Fresca, or IlogMaria, a Honeybee farm that has soap and oils, beeswax and wild honey. You might also want to see my previous post on Beauty Naturally.  It used to be so hard to find local and sustainable items but now they’re just about everywhere.  Two of the most complete stores are ECHO at Serendra Plaza, Bonifacio Global City and Eco Market at Market Market.  

TIP:  Less is almost always more.  Going “au natural” takes you a step further in caring for the plant.

7. Cleaning

Many everyday cleaning products are made up of nasty chemicals and toxins.  However, the natural cleaning products work too, sometimes even better. All you need are: vinegar and baking soda! Aside from making my own, I use some of Messy Bessy’s Products (www.messybessy.com), Victoria (for laundry soap) and then there’s a new brand called Plantex. I also use Ilog Maria’s Beeswax wood and leather wax for my wood, floors and leather. Take a look at my previous post on Green Cleaning.

TIP: . Vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean almost anything. Mix in a little warm water with either of these and you’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner.

8. Renewable energy credits

Another way to “offset” your carbon footprint is to buy  renewable energy credits (RECs). There are many websites that will help you calculate your energy consumption (although these are mostly US-based) and buy a requisite amount of RECs to compensate for it. To illustrate, to offset the amount of pollution you contribute by going to and from work, you buy “credits” from www.nativeenergy.com, a company that pools capital and invests it in wind energy or methane farm projects.  The websites I have found are www.terrapass.com and www.renewablechoice.com.

Lastly, there is so much information on green thinking and sustainable living these days, it’s difficult to decide which ones to follow.  The websites I deem useful are Grist (environmental news), Treehugger (Sustainable Living Blog) and National Geographic’s Green Guide.   Treehugger has Green Guides for those who wish to take the next step and live sustainably.   The easiest way is also to watch documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth, The 11th Hour and BBC’s Planet Earth.

Taken in part from the Green Guides of Treehugger and www.Lighterfootstep.com

The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

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