There is a common misconception out there that to be Green is to need lots of green (please pardon the pun). This I feel is a falsehood that has been perpetrated by the media, companies and maybe even our own government. Now sure there are plenty of expensive Green options are there like fuel cells, solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles to name a few, but they are not the only ways to be green. I have found in my experiments and explorations of a cheap green lifestyle that it can be very easy and inexpensive to do.
To start off I will share a couple of the simple everyday activities I do I help be Greener.
I bike or walk for everything that I can no matter what the season. If it is practical and safe I will take my bike to work, to the library, the grocery store and even to the local DQ to pick up some ice cream. Now if I could just get those DQ people to fill a reusable cup I would be set. Now this might not be practical if you live in the country or in a very large city but then you could either take public transit or try to minimize excess trips into town. Another option to consider is bring your bike with to town and run errands on that. Not only do you cut down on the gas guzzling town driving but you get exercise to boot, it is a win win.
Here in American grilling is one of the most beloved summer pastimes. I love to grill as do many men (and women) across the country. But depending on how much you do it can be both an expensive pastime and a not very environmentally friendly one. Most people grill over one of two types of fuel propane or charcoal briquettes. The not green aspects of the first one are fairly apparent, propane is a non-renewable resource that will be exhausted eventually. On top of that it has to be harvested bottled and transported far from where it came from before it can be used. Now charcoal briquettes are friendlier then propane but they are still created using hardwood forest and some form of coal to heat and purify the wood. Then these briquettes are bagged and transported around the world using fossil fuels to move them. I personally am a fan of scrounging for waste wood in the neighborhoods of towns and in the countryside if you live in a wood rich area. I have yet to come across a homeowner that objects to someone taking broken tree limbs off of their yard for free. This practice limits how much I use since I don’t want to waste it and I still get well done tasty food. If you are curious about how briquettes are made check out this video.
Now there are many Green cleaning products out there like Green Works or Simple Green. I have used Green Works in the past in both bathroom and kitchen cleaning and have been very satisfied. It cleaned up soap scum, toothpaste, hard water residue, and cooked on food on the stove top with equal ease and it smelled good doing it. I have personally found that vinegar or lemon juice works very well for cleaning toilet bowls. Works the same as any commercial cleaner I’ve found and it doesn’t have the harsh side effects. Plus vinegar can be bought in bulk and will last for as long as you would need it
In a recent experiment I used a concentrated dose of vinegar to clean up hard mineral deposits in my toilet. It did not work as well as I wanted or expected for two reasons. One the bowl refilled after I had drained the water out in order to concentrate the vinegar, so that diluted the concentration. The second would be I lacked a pumice stone to remove the hard deposits. I think if I had applied a bit more manual labor it would have cleaned up much better than it did.
There are many different things that can be used to clean naturally such as baking soda, borax, white vinegar, lemon juice even some plant extracts like tea tree oil. There are plenty of different recipes out there for making homemade cleaners but I have found that personal experimentation works best for your creating your own formulas.
Now I am no saint when it comes to trash. I produce it just like everyone else and it is something that constantly plagues me in my daily life. I produce more trash that I care to admit even though I have taken some steps to limit it. I use reusable bags for all my shopping so that cuts plastics bags out and to be honest I don’t miss them at all. I try to buy in bulk or purchase items that don’t have any packaging. I recycle vegetable and fruit scraps into a compost bin that I keep under my deck. I even instead of buying a plastic or metal trash can in which I put a plastic trash bag I ask a Wal-Mart associate if I could have the box of a trash can. I then took that box home cut it down to size and it has been my trash can for well over a year now. It was free and it can be recycled into another use if I wish or just recycled back into cardboard when I move on.