Suggestions for Daily Habits
Although I am far from attaining the ideal environmentally friendly habits
and practices, learning ways to minimize my negative impact on the
environment is an important part of my life. I thought it might be
helpful to share some of the things that I commonly do and that I have
found it easy to integrate into my daily life.
When trying to become more environment-friendly, keep these three things
1. Every action makes a difference. Although this has become
something of a truism, it is still sometimes hard to convince yourself
that it really matters if you wait to find a recycling bin instead
of throwing that bottle away right now. The truth is that it does matter,
and if you can keep this in mind, you will find it a lot easier to make
these choices in your everyday life. Earth-friendly daily living habits
are not a substitute for activism directed at changing environmental
policies, but they do make a difference, and they also provide a way to
bring your practices into line with your beliefs.
2. Try to make things easy for yourself. Find ways to integrate
earth-friendly habits into your daily life. Don't feel like you have to do
everything at once - start with small things, and later you can expand.
(For example, buy one reusable menstrual pad at a time if you can't afford
to buy a whole bunch or aren't ready to change your habits
3. Don't waste time feeling guilty for the actions you don't take.
It's not productive to sit around beating yourself up for having driven to
the store instead of walked. What is productive is to figure
out a way to make it easier for yourself to get to the store next
- Use low-flow shower heads and low-flow toilets. I have never
used the shower heads but they are supposed to work pretty well. Low-flow
toilets may need to be flushed more often but they save a lot of
- Take shorter showers. This one is really difficult for me -
I love long showers. However, if I turn off the water while I'm soaping
myself or shampooing my hair, it helps to cut down on my water
consumption. Which leads us to . . .
- Turn off running water when you're not using it, for example
when you're brushing your teeth.
- Don't flush the toilet every time you pee. Some people think
this is gross, but if you're not one of them, it is a good way to save a lot of
water. (I recommend discussing this with your family/ housemates
- Use natural cleaning products (brands such as Ecover, Seventh
Generation, or Kiss My Face, which use biodegradable, non-toxic
ingredients) for your dish detergent, laundry detergent, soap, and so on.
These products have a tendency to be slightly more expensive than regular
products, although of course this depends on which products you usually
- Tell the cashier "I don't need a bag, thanks" if you're only
buying one or two items at the store. Cashiers generally don't like this
because it breaks their routine, which is understandably annoying to them.
So try to be especially friendly about it.
- Take a cloth bag or old plastic or paper bags when you go
- Take used clothes, books, furniture, and other household items to
a thrift store if they are still in good condition. Or if it is
appropriate, consider donating them to an organization like a homeless
shelter or battered women's shelter. (Try to be sensitive about this
too, though - if you don't want the gross old hole-y sweater, probably
a shelter resident doesn't want it either.)
- Buy things second-hand whenever you can.
- Find out about your local recycling center - what can be
there? Often, if you put things that cannot be recycled in your recycling
bin, the whole load will get thrown out. So it is crucial to know exactly
what the center will and won't accept. (For example, many stations don't
accept plastic bottle tops.)
- Refill water bottles when they are empty rather than buying a
bottle of water. You can carry it around with you and drink from it
instead of plastic or paper cups.
- Re-use paper as scrap paper whenever you can. Keep wrapping
paper and re-use it to wrap gifts for others. If you don't have any
leftover wrapping paper, use magazine paper or newspaper to wrap
- Print double-sided unless there is some reason you really need
single sheets. This may take a little more time/ energy, as most printers
won't print double-sided and you will have to take out each printed sheet
and put it in the paper tray; but it really can save a lot of paper.
- Pick up trash.
- If you are menstruating, use reusable cotton pads or sea
instead of disposable products. They may seem expensive but in the long
run you will save money as well as helping reduce waste. (Lunapads has a great selection.)
- Eat vegetarian. Even if you don't go completely vegetarian,
moving toward a more healthy vegetarian diet is good for you and for the
earth, for several reasons. (Here's one
article about environmental effects of animal farming,
and here's a large listing of
articles on animals and the environment.)
- Walk instead of driving whenever you can.
- Ride your bicycle if you don't have time to walk.
- Share a ride if it's too far to walk or bicycle.
- Get a clean, fuel-efficient car. Ideally, get a hybrid! If you
can't afford that, find out how your car rates on pollution and gas
mileage at the EPA Green
Vehicle Guide website. Research different cars before buying one to
find out which one has the best rating.
- Don't leave your car running for more than a minute. Don't
it "warming up" for five minutes while you get ready to leave the house,
even though it is much less comfortable to get into a cold car.
- Don't smoke. Okay, I had to say it.
- Get energy-efficient appliances. The EPA's Energy Star program rates appliances
on their energy-efficiency. (Their website also allows you to measure how
energy-efficient your home is, and get tips on improving your
- Turn lights off when you're not in the room.
- Insulate your home well - this saves energy from heating in the
winter and cooling in the summer.
- Don't turn on heat or A/C until you have to - keep the heat low
in the winter and wear a sweater and slippers, or find other ways to cool
down your home in summer. (Personally, I am really bad about the heat
thing in the winter because I hate to be cold. On the other hand, I make
up for it in the summer because I don't really like the A/C, and when I
have it on I don't keep it very high.)
- Put Our Earth First
- helpful household tips from another witch.
- Earth 911 has local recycling
information, tips on saving energy (more comprehensive and more scientific
than mine), and all kinds of other environmental information.
- From the Proteus Library: Touch the Earth -
an environmental quiz. How much do you know about your local environment?
Become aware of your own environmental
- GAIAM sells low-flow showerheads, as
well as other environmental products. Their products tend to be very
expensive, but you can probably find some good deals at times. Really.
- The Frugal Environmentalist
("because being green doesn't have to be expensive") - a quarterly
magazine. I haven't read it but I like the idea.
Back to Beth's World of Wonders or Beth's Pagan Stuff.