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10 things you can do to live greener

March 21, 2012

There are so many tiny adjustments we can make in our lives to help create a healthier environment and a more sustainable future. I thought I’d share some with you!

If you already practice many of these – great! If you don’t – use them as inspiration!

1. Keep reusable bags in your car and use them when you go shopping.

My mom always does this, so I definitely learned this from her. I was shocked when I first came to the US and saw all the unnecessary plastic bags that were used every time I went grocery shopping! This is such an easy thing to do, and so environmentally friendly. It is a good idea to get some reusable nets for those vegetables and fruits you pick up, in addition to the large bags for the groceries to be carried to and from your car.

What about getting something like these ↓ – or even better: make some yourself!

2. Let your car stay, and use your bike for short errands.  

This one is not only good for the environment – it is incredibly good for you too! I know taking the car often feels so much easier, but trust me – the body needs some exercise and fresh air, and you will feel so good afterwards!

If you cannot leave without the car, see if you can carpool with someone when going shopping, going to school, work, sporting events etc, or check public transportation schedules for your area!

3. Decorate with plants to improve your air quality. 

Think of how beautiful some nice flowers and plants look on the balcony, in the garden or inside the house. It will be good for both you and your  family! An extra plus if you plant bee-loving plants, such as sunflowers, pumpkins, blackberries, rosemary, sage or honeysuckle. Also, plant native flowers and shrubs that need less fertilizer and pesticides.

4. Skip bottled water, use filtered tap water. 

Did you know that bottled water can be harmful to you? The bottled water industry is shocking, and if you are interested to learn more about the harms bottled water can have, take a look here. Drink tap water instead, buy a reusable (preferably BPA-free) bottle to bring to sporting events, school, work etc. And another drinking water tip; keep your drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.

5. Share clothes and toys with another mom when your child outgrows them. 

I know that not everyone who reads this have children, including myself, but I will definitely save this for later. Children grow fast, and when the youngest child in a family has outgrown toys and clothes, someone else can probably have great use and joy with them.  Also, think of all the clothes you probably have that can be donated for a good cause. Don’t throw stuff away: try to be creative and reuse what you have! Old t-shirts work well as cleaning rags, old sweater sleeves can be used as leggings, t-shirts can be turned into scarves and gloves, there are endless opportunities!

6. Grow your own food

If you have the chance to, I really recommend growing something on your own. It can be both easy and fun – and lets not forget about delicious! If you have kids, not only can you show them where different foods come from, but organic food will also be healthier for both you and them. Be creative – grow some herbs, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, cucumbers etc. If you have a garden, grow some apples, pears, cherries, plums, potatoes – grow whatever that can naturally grow in the climate you live in.

If you can’t grow something yourself, support local farmers by shopping at the farmers market or curb stands!

7. Save trees by using less paper

Here there are many things you can do. Pay your bills online, print and copy on both sides when possible, and save things electronically – don’t print a hard copy unless it is absolutely necessary. You can also read newspapers online, send e-cards in place of the traditional paper variety, opt out of receiving phone books and Yellow Pages, etc.

Think of all the paper you can save! In Norway I know you can sign up to avoid receiving junk mail, which can save you a lot of unnecessary garbage. In America, you can do something similar by visiting DMAchoice ‘s website.

8. Make some adjustments at home

There are many things you can do at home, and I will only mention a few here – even though there are tons of stuff you can do that can save you both money and trouble! A couple of easy reminders; try to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), and if you are leaving a room for more than 15 minutes, turn off the lights.

When I lived in Germany I experienced that they are very aware of turning lights off, and that is something Norwegians can become much better at!

Some other things; use cloth napkins and hand towels instead of paper towels, and use bar soap instead of liquid to save packaging and costs. Unplug chargers and appliances when you’re not using them, donate your old computer to a community or senior citizens center, and pass your old cellphone on to a new user. Last; make your own cleaning supplies with non-toxic ingredients, such as baking soda and vinegar. It can work wonders!

For more inspiration, check out this site, and this site – or simply Google “how to make your home more environmentally friendly”.

9. Before buying new items, check online sites for gently used options.

It’s a win-win: Not only can you get great deals – it is good for the environment too! Renting and borrowing is also a great alternative. Rent or borrow seldom used items such as chain saws, ladders and party decorations. Instead of buying books and DVDs, check out your local library or a rental store. Instead of buying new CDs or DVDs, download music and movies from online instead!

10. Last, but not least; every time you toss something out, challenge yourself to think about how it might impact the planet, and see if you can think of ways to lower its impact, or buy less next time.

For even more tips on what you can do, check out this site.

Good Luck! ♥

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