5 Different Ways To Go Green in Your Home
It's about that time again- when Mother Earth begins to reawaken with budding greens and flashes of red, yellow, and pink. Metaphors aside, it is Spring now, in case you haven't stepped outside or are fortunate enough to live somewhere that is perpetually warm and sunny and alive. But for us in colder climates, this season is special. The cherry blossoms are just around the corner, the trees are beginning to rise from their winter slumber, and those damn-evil geese are about to have their damn-cute little babies. Just around now, many are working themselves into a frenzy over whatever "Spring Cleaning" is about (y'all don't clean year round?!?!). And while that's all well and good and needed after the lazy and dormant winter that many of us have had, it got us wondering about how else we can capitalize on Spring, and what this season really signifies: new life, greenery, our planet in general, any of the above. Remember the four R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rihanna.
(The current cherry blossoms blooming in Manayunk.)
Recently, we were (un)fortunate enough to watch a Jon Oliver segment that focused on pollution- more specifically recycling, and how plastic is finding its way into every corner and orifice of the Earth. Some of you are probably aware, or have at least heard of, the 1.6 million square kilometer garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean (THAT IS TWICE THE SIZE OF TEXAS, FOR REFERENCE). Horrifying? Yes. But for many, just far enough away from home as to not cause any immediate panic. Well, we're here to tell you that that plastic finds its way back into all of our homes- via seafood, via bottled water, via tap water, and just about everything else. In fact, the average person consumes 5 grams of plastic per week- that is equivalent to you eating a credit card amount of plastic, I repeat, every week. Close enough to home for you? I hope so. And while we certainly agree with applying more pressure on corporations and companies rather than private citizens (they're the ones producing plastic, after all), there are still quite a few ways that we ourselves are able to help. And no, I won't be telling you to simply turn the water off while you're brushing your teeth- we all should, but I'll try and find some more original suggestions than that, thank you.
1. Compost Your Food Waste
The word composting generally doesn't bring pleasant imagery into one's mind, at least in my experience. That being said, it doesn't have to be gross. And it's most assuredly beneficial to you, your plants and/or gardens, the trash collectors, the dump, and so on. We went down this path early last year, and the (literal) fruits of our labor will *hopefully* be creating great soil for our vegetable garden beds soon. And no, you don't need a lot of space or even a yard to compost! We do both, but we have this smaller compost bin that is tucked away in the corner of our kitchen. We toss all of our apple cores, banana peels, egg shells, and more into this little can- and the charcoal filters mean all of that odor is trapped inside. We usually transfer this bin into the larger one in our back yard when it fills up, but if you don't overload it, you can certainly use just this one. We also use biodegradable bags when emptying it.
(Our backyard composting bin at the bottom right. And Tucker, our king, middle center.)
2. Reusable Shopping Bags
OK, this one might be a little bit basic. I'll give you that. But! It can also be cute. While here in Pennsylvania, our lovely GOP lawmakers included a provision in a BUDGET BILL that won't allow Philadelphia to ban plastic bags, we refuse to use them anyway. We bring these bad boys along with us to the grocery store, and people seem to get a kick out of them.
3. When You Can, Opt For Biodegradable
You've seen it, we've seen it, everyone's seen it: the untied, smooshed, dog-poop bag stuck to the sidewalk, in a crevice, in a garden, in the gutter. A truly heinous sight that even a good samaritan refuses to touch and dispose of properly. Want to help alleviate that? Well, you can certainly just not be that person if you own a dog. But better yet, why not just use biodegradable (and yes, compostable!) dog poop bags in the first place? It's a win win. (Side note: do not recommend composting dog poop itself- but chicken poop, yes!)
4. Reevaluate Your Most Disposed of Products
This one is probably pretty easy to list in your head, but harder to actually tackle. What plastics do you use most frequently? Are there ones you use on a daily basis? My assumption is yes, because we all (or at least I hope, for your sake) use cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, and lotions- the list goes on. Next question: do any of these companies sell refills and thus reduce the amount of times you purchase that plastic or metal bottle? If you bought it from Acme, Giant, or even Target- probably not. But luckily enough, there are companies that do exactly that. We were fortunate enough to try out a a company called Three Main this week who focuses on eco-friendly cleaning products. All of the ingredients in their Starter Kit are non-toxic, and their aluminum eternity bottles are meant to be reused and refilled indefinitely! Their pouch refill bags are also recyclable (check with your local municipality, but more on that in the next point) either with standard recycling, or at a TerraCycle collection box- these are frequently outside larger retailers like Targets and Walmarts, but you can always check Recycle Nation to find one closest to you. The lemon scent in the Starter Kit smells wonderful, and the products work splendidly. And best of all, their refills are very affordable- and they offer free shipping with the subscription program. 10/10 highly recommend! And if you're on board with that, there are plenty of shampoo & conditioner brands that operate similarly.
(Three Main's "Starter Kit": liquid dish soap, multi-surface cleaner, and bathroom cleaner.)
5. Make Sure What You're Putting Out For Recycling Is Actually Recyclable
I know, I know- this requires some research. And effort. Ugh. Unfortunately, you might have to read through a local government website that is not user friendly or extremely helpful. But hopefully, once you find that cherished tidbit of information needed to complete your web-browsing quest, you'll be enlightened. Recently, up until a few years ago in fact, I was but a sweet summer child that just assumed all plastics and metals were recycled no matter the type or condition. In reality, that is hardly the case. Worse yet, after China stopped purchasing recyclables from the United States, many cities just started burning them all- Philadelphia included. Not a vibe. Not one bit. That bit of depressing news on the side, your town, city, county, etc. should provide you with something like this if you do a 'lil search on the 'ole Google. And then... then, you pray to the Green Goddess (a joke, please don't pray to a salad dressing) that your recycling will be dutifully reborn after a tiresome journey interweaving through local, state, federal and international systems. However likely that is is not entirely up to you, and you can at least sleep peacefully knowing you did your part, all the while still hammering on the idea that our largest corporations should be responsible for recycling and creating more environmentally-conscious products. Grassroots movements and boycotting products in the hopes that the free market will swing in your favor and cause a company to discontinue use altogether is a cute idea and all, but not very practical in the capitalist, sometimes-dystopian reality we are currently living in.
Anywhomsteth, that is our list. Hopefully you found it somewhat beneficial in the likes of information, or maybe you can pick a helpful new habit. Either way, thanks again for reading along. In the meantime, go outside. The days are longer and the flowers are pretty. Earth is pretty nice, for the most part- let's try and keep it that way.