Green Living: There’s Always Room For Improvement

I’ve been on a journey to live a life that is kind to our planet for several years, but there’s always room for improvement. It’s near impossible (not to mention unrealistic) to immediately change everything overnight. Habits are developed a few at a time, and once they’re in place, more new habits can be implemented.

Over the past few years I’ve taken many steps to reduce my carbon footprint and implemented new habits and routines. I’ve drastically reduced the amount of plastic in my life and replaced most disposable items with reusable alternatives. I’ve installed different gadgets and gizmos to reduce my energy use. And so on. But there is always room for improvement.

I recently read No Impact Man for the second time and it inspired me just as much as the first time around. I’m ready to tackle the next phase of new habits and tighten up on some that have fallen a bit out of practice.

It’s not about deprivation; it’s about living with intention. Click To Tweet

I like lists. Writing things down helps me remember and keeps me accountable and focused. So I did what I naturally do when I’m feeling motivated and inspired…make a list. These are things I have done and/or plan to continue doing and working on since finishing No Impact Man this month:

  • Replaced kcups with tea bags. (I couldn’t believe how much cheaper it was!)
  • Turn off the water while I wash my hands, brush my teeth, and scrub dishes.
  • Be more conscientious of the thermostat.
  • Be more conscientious about leaving lights on and things plugged in.
  • Buy more used clothes when I need something.
  • Don’t use my dishwasher. (Honestly, I never had one until this house and it would take me like a week to fill it anyway.)
  • Only do full loads of laundry.
  • Be more diligent about recycling.
  • Instead of blow drying my hair right after I get out of the shower, it’s now the last thing I do before leaving, so that it has time to air dry a bit. (Plus this is better for my hair!)
  • Quit using Qtips This was initially a tough habit to break, but I’ve known for a long time that I really shouldn’t be using them to clean out my ears! It’s one of the last few disposable items that I use and one I’ve been meaning to cut for a while.
  • Wear my clothes a few times before washing them. (Within reason of course!)
  • Walk to work more often.
  • Bundle my errands.
  • Eat out less.
  • Don’t let water boil longer than needed before I put the food in. Same with pre-heating the oven.
  • Turned my water heater down a bit. (Water heats up fast in this tiny house!)

This isn’t a comprehensive list of different actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Like I said, I’ve already implemented many things and they’re now just part of my regular routine. The things on this list are the particular things I still need to improve on.

It’s different for everyone. We all have aspects of green living that will come easily to us and other aspects that will be more challenging. We all probably have things we’re not willing to give up. (For me it’s relaxing soaks in the tub. I also really enjoy sending and receiving mail.) It’s not about deprivation; it’s about living with intention and living a life that is happy for you and the planet.

Some things make sense for some of us but not all of us. For example, I’ve thought about collecting rainwater, but unless I make friends with neighbors that have a use for it, it’s not anything I can use right now. Same with composting. (Although I do want to find an avenue for organic waste.)

There are often tradeoffs that make it challenging to make a truly green decision. Click To Tweet

Don’t feel pressured to mirror my list or do every single green thing possible while forgoing things you need and enjoy in life. There are often tradeoffs that make it challenging to make a truly “green” decision. For example, some may prefer organic cotton for their clothing and home textiles because it reduces pesticides and other chemicals. However, even organic cotton requires very large amounts of water to grow. Or there is the big paper versus plastic bag dilemma. (Although I prefer neither!) There’s rarely a perfect solution. You have to choose what works best for you, your values, and your life. It’s a personal choice.

PS: One of my favorite silver linings to all this eco-friendly hippie stuff? Most of it saves you money!

So this is my current list to tackle. What is on yours?

Green Living: There's Always Room For Improvement

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8 Comments

  1. Green living definitely can be cheaper! Keeping that thermostat down or cutting back on certain things is an easy way to save some of those benjamins. I think collecting rain water might be a good thing for us to do next, although I guess I don’t really know what I’d do with the rainwater either!

    One of the “green” things that our household does is to sell perfectly good furniture we find on the side of the road or in the trash. It makes us a couple extra bucks and helps us to keep the item from ending up in a landfill. Really stinks when we see people throwing out perfectly good stuff instead of trying to sell it or at least donating it. I remember once finding a bunch of sealed paper towels in the trash once. Never opened.

    If you think about the journey these paper towels took, a tree was cut down, dozens of people worked in some way to form the tree into a paper towel, it comes off the store shelf, and then went directly into the trash. Just completely wasteful.
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  2. When doing laundry, I spin each load about 3 times to try to get as much water out of the clothes before putting them into the dryer. It will take a shorter amount of time for them to dry, using less energy.

    I’ve also organized a clothing swap for my office mates next month. We will all clear out our closets and trade clothing, shoes and accessories, rather than dumping them in the trash. Whatever doesn’t get claimed, I will donate to the local thrift store – where I purchase most of my clothing!

    • Those are all great ideas! I never would have thought about the washing machine one! Love the clothing swap idea! Hope you’re doing well! 🙂

  3. Great article! The little things really do add up and you’re right about it being a journey where there’s always room for improvement. Plastic is a tough one to reduce, but I’ve been having fun trying different homemade cleaners and beauty products so I’m gradually making the switch : )

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