How do you stay green when you are too busy to smell the roses? Being green isn’t hard to do but it can be an overwhelming change to make when you are already struggling to balance your life. My advice is to start small and start at home. Choose one thing at a time to change, stick to it until it becomes a habit then move on to the next thing. If you are having trouble deciding what changes to make write each change on a small piece of paper, fold it up, place them all in a bowl and choose a new one each week.

Simple changes can make a big difference.

Challenge yourself to recycle. Despite recycling bins and rules, I still see ton’s of plastics, paper, glass and metal in the dumpster. I actually drag useable stuff out of the dumpster and take it to the goodwill but you can start by paying attention to what your throw in your trash. How much time does it really take to rinse the peanut butter jar or clean out the moldy food containers instead of throwing them into the trash. Pull-tabs and lids can go in the recycle as well. Encourage others to recycle by picking up trash while taking the dog for a walk.

Recycle your clothes, shoes and household goods. The local Goodwill or Salvation Army will happily accept your donation and give you a donation receipt to use for income tax. Swap clothes, furniture and household items with friends. You’ll each get a fresh look without buying new stuff. Choose more natural fabrics like cotton, wool, sisal, and bamboo for clothing and home decorating.

Just say no to plastic. Make the change to stainless steel or ceramic water bottles and coffee cups. Make a conscious choice before you buy something made of plastic. Ask yourself if you really need the item and if it can be recycled. Choose to use ceramic, porcelain or stoneware plates and silverware and switch to recycled paper products.

Skip the chemicals. Try all natural products for cleaning or make your own using vinegar, borax and essential oils. There are many chemical free insecticides, dish detergents and cleansers to choose from. These are available at most grocery stores. Look for products that are not tested on animals, hypoallergenic and fragrance free. Ditch the air fresheners and odor neutralizers like Febreez. A large number of people including myself have allergy attacks when breathing in scented air wicks, candles, scented sticks and aerosol sprays. These types of products are usually made with fragrance oils, which are known allergens. For room sprays chose an essential oil like lavender, mix 10 drops with 2 ounces of water, pour into spray bottle, shake and spray. To neutralize odors try opening a window or place a box of baking soda near odor source. Baking soda will absorb unwanted scents.

Try natural beauty. Look for hair and skin products that do not contain any of the following: sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, Diazolidinyl urea, Propylene Glycol, fragrance, Parabens and triethanolamine. Use henna or vegetable hair dyes. Both of these products are made with herbs, leaves, nuts and berries … no chemicals.

Reconsider your ‘idea’ of beauty and embrace your own uniqueness. 

Educate others about simple things you do to recycle, renew, and restore yourself and the earth.

Erika is a freelance writer working primarily with sustainable products in Rubbermaid Commerical Products industry. She is a strong advocate for conservation and environmentalism and hopes that one day we can view recycling as a necessity rather than a nuisance.

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