I feel ashamed of myself when I don’t do my part for the environment.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes we can forget how significant our own impact on the environment can be.
We can resolve to be more mindful of this, but if we don’t take any action, nothing will ever get done. The same idea can be applied to our lives, our New Year’s resolutions and our politicians. This month, the world watched as world leaders concluded the 2016 UN Conference on Climate Change. But I was left asking myself if the climate talks will actually change anything.
I know it’s hard to transition into eco-friendly living. Being environmentally conscious is all well and good, but it can be an inconvenience to change old habits.
To start the New Year off right, I came up with four unique ways to begin living eco-friendly that one can actually keep up with because they are so easily done. With these, you will be well on your way to living in an eco-friendly home, while minimizing the inconvenience placed on yourself.
Here are four ways to environmentally improve your home in 2016:
Make your own cleaning products:
I read an article on zero-waste living and was completely floored. I couldn’t believe how people had switched their daily habits so that they never had to use plastic. I wasn’t sure I could make the full transition, but I wanted to do my part with small changes. One of which was making my own cleaning products.
The great thing about this one is that you will cut down on your plastic waste. Also, (for mothers and animal-lovers alike) you’ll be using all natural products on your counters and floors, so your surfaces will be chemical-free.
Vinegar and baking-soda will do the trick for most everything—your floors, your bathrooms, and your kitchen counters. Mix together ½ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda and ½ gallon of water in a reusable bottle. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, add lavender oil (lavender is a deterrent to scorpions and other desert dwellers) or some lemon juice. It will leave your house smelling fresh, while being spotlessly clean.
(Side note: The only problem with lemon is that it’s harsh on your animals’ noses. Stick this one in your bathroom. It’ll be a deterrent to your animals to drink from the toilet, and it’ll wake you up in the morning as citrus is rumored to do.)
Put a rock in your toilet:
The back of your toilet, just to clarify.
I got into a fight with my roommates in college because they wanted to conserve water by only flushing for number 2. This did not fly with me. I told them it was unhygienic. If we wanted to save water, then we could put a brick in the back of the toilet. The brick would take up space in the tank and require the toilet to fill up with less water. This way, we would be able to conserve more water with every flush, while still being hygienically conscious. (They didn’t see this as environmentally conscious enough, and I got my own bathroom.)
However, this small change really will improve your water usage! It’ll use a lot less water, while being hygienic. You’ll feel better with every flush, and mother Earth will thank you.
(Side note: A brick will erode in the tank and turn your water red. If you want to scare your houseguests, then by all means go ahead and try it? Most likely, you’ll want to try a different route. Use a stone that will not erode as easily.)
Switch your conditioner:
When I say conditioner, I mean all of your beauty products. Switch your conditioner, shampoo, eye shadow and eyeliner. There are a lot of harmful chemicals in store brought brands, and some products are tested on animals first.
Take the safer, more eco-friendly route, and use vegetarian or all-natural products. I know these can be expensive, but it’s worth the transition. One, your hair will shine and grow because of the added nutrients, and two, your skin will clear up and feel much smoother at night when removing your make-up.
Some good companies are:
• Alchemy Mineral Brands (for all mineral based make-up and sun-screen protectors)
• Naturaltech (for vegetarian based hair products)
Turn off your lights:
This one should be the easiest on the list, but it’s really not. I am guilty of leaving too many lights on in the house. For the New Year, try to stay conscientious. If you aren’t using a room, turn off the lights. It’ll be environmentally forward, while saving you a ton on your electric bill.
However, what goes along with this point—and an issue that gets completely ignored—is the devices that we leave plugged in all the time: chargers. Pull them out of the wall because they are still using up energy even when they aren’t plugged into your computer or mobile device.
This goes for anything really: toasters and coffee pots, hair dryers and curling rods, lamps and alarm clocks (although you really can’t pull out these without inconvenience). These are all utilizing energy, while you’re away. Start with the small things like your toaster or blender. You’ll be surprised at how easy a transition it will be just plugging in these culinary devices every time you use them and unplugging them every time you’re done with them.
These four practices really are not difficult. You’ll quickly see that you aren’t inconvenienced by doing them, and you’ll feel good about it! You’re finally doing something for the environment that you can keep up with well after your other New Year’s resolutions have fitfully and dutifully died away.
In honor of 2016, the Paris climate summit, and all your small environmental efforts already—the Earth thanks you!
Author: Brittany Ann Bandemer
Editor: Caitlin Oriel