Are you doing your part to look after the planet? Are you stopping to think how your daily habits are affecting the natural world?
I invite you to look at your routine activities and ask yourself if there’s a better way - a way that will leave less of a negative footprint on Earth. To that end, here are some suggestions, most of which are from the book “1,001 Ways to Save the Earth,” by Joanna Yarrow.
* Our habits and daily activities (breathing to driving to eating) generate carbon. Check your carbon footprint at www3.epa.gov/carbon-footrpint-calculator. I was happy to see that for my household (two people), the number was quite a bit less than the U.S. national average of 53 tons. Then I saw the world average for two people — 11 tons — and didn't feel quite as smug.
* Are you a wine drinker? Grocery stores have convenient cardboard carrying totes that accommodate six regular-sized bottles of wine or three large bottles. Instead of throwing out those cartons, stash them in your trunk for the next shopping trip. They can be used multiple times before recycling.
* Change out your paraffin-wax candles for beeswax and soy candles. Not only are they toxin-free, but they last much longer and are therefore worth the extra purchase price.
* Use natural substances to make cleaning products. Baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice are all inexpensive and effective for a variety of uses - all-purpose cleaner, scouring powder, and more. Check the internet for recipes.
* Steer clear of chemical-containing air fresheners and make use of naturally satisfying aromas, such as potpourri, flowers from your garden, or freshly-baked bread.
* Have your heating system serviced regularly to ensure that it’s working as efficiently as possible.
* Consider installing attic insulation if you don't have it to minimize heating bills and cut your home’s emissions. Use a recycled or environmentally-benign insulating material.
* When buying toys for children, avoid items made from PVC, which can leach noxious chemicals when damaged and emit carcinogenic toxins if burned.
* Why don’t we use fountain pens any longer? Throwaway pens are convenient, sure, but how many have we tossed in the trash? Invest in a fountain pen (which can be refilled) and not only will you be reducing waste, but your writing ventures will be a more pleasant experience.
* Simplify your life by reducing the number of things you own.
* Include your children when figuring out your household's carbon footprint and talk to them about how the family can reduce its environmental impact. It's much easier to develop good Earth stewardship habits when one grows up in a family that values conservation.
“If many little people in many little places do many little deeds, they can change the face of the Earth.” (African proverb)
Resources: “1,001 Ways to Save the Earth,” 3.epa.gov/carbon-footrpint-calculator.