The Green Life

Living The Green Life

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, it’s Spring (finally) and EVERYthing is all about Green!  Green clothes, green food, green BEER (mmm), green grass (is it weird that I love the smell of fresh cut grass?).  All in good fun.

I want to talk about green in another sense… our environment.  It’s far too early for green beer, but I’m sitting in my green living room wearing my green crazy socks feeling inspired to talk with you about “Going Green” and living “The Green Life”.

I’ve heard it said that “it ain’t easy going green” but what I have noticed over my own journey is that it really isn’t that hard either.

Now there are several things that I believe have made it much easier on me and my family.  The biggest thing I would say is the addition of recycling service in our neighborhood.  The waste management company just added the service last year but the best part is that they do not require us to separate the types of recyclables.  Call it lazy, call it cheap, call it what you want but THAT 1 thing has made living The Green Life practically second nature.  Because I will be honest, when we started I secretly wanted to have the full on recycling center.  I wanted to go all out with pretty matching bins for every type of recyclable all organized and set up just perfectly.  But I know my anal ways and I KNOW it would have driven me (and thus my family) absolutely INSANE!

So thank goodness they made it easy and FREE and prevented me from subjecting my family to the madness!  Not all communities have it so easy, but there’s still hope.  In general there are some universal things that I have learned along the way.  As consumers, practically everything we use, buy, consume is recyclable in some way.

recycle stationphoto credit: Trash Recycling with Disposal Containers via photopin (license)

Here are some simple ways to “Go Green” and start living The Green Life

Food:

  • The bags, boxes, and containers things come in are recyclable
  • The scraps are compostable.  Except oils, meat, and meat by-products of course – just like those don’t break down easily in our bodies, they don’t break down easily in the environment.
  • When you eat well (i.e. lots of fruits and veg) you could end up with very little waste.  When I cook, I keep a scrap bowl in my prep area.  All peels, cut ends – scraps – go in the bowl and into the compost bin at clean up.  No “trash”.

 

Clothing, shoes, and accessories:

  • Buy used.  I will be the first to admit that I am not too keen on the idea of wearing other peoples things.  But some great items can be found on consignment.  Go green and save some green at the same time.
  • Donate!  There are organizations that help provide suits and dress shoes to battered women trying to enter or re-enter the workforce.  There’s folks still trying to pick up the pieces after job loss, children whose parents need help getting good school clothes.  It really bothers me to see clothes in the trash (not that I’m gonna go dig them out or anything) unless they are tattered or otherwise unusable.
  • Remember hand-me-downs?  Do people do that anymore.  Anyone other than me.  (BIG grin).  Well we all should.  It’s nostalgic and it just makes good sense.
  • Consign and sell.

 

Furniture, accessories, and home decor (including building materials):

Well, well, well…. You had to know I was going to bring this up.  My sister tells me all the time that I just have a vision for things so it’s easy for me to say that a second hand piece is worth rescuing or not to get rid of something just to replace it with something new.  I don’t deny that as truth.  So I’ll say that if you can’t see the potential in decorative items or furniture, there are other things you can do than just throwing it out or sitting it on the curb on heavy trash day.

Old piece of furniture Old piece soon to be new again!

 

  • Buy used – yes thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales are great resources.  Also consider estate sales and auctions. Or buy (floor) samples.  Lots of higher end retailers sell their floor models at certain times of the year – find out when that is and it’s another opportunity to save money and materials.
    • Decorator’s Note: make sure you check used furniture to be sure it is well made and in good condition.  Otherwise you could end up spending more in the long run because you bought a piece of junk trying to be cheap frugal.
  • Rethink what you already have.
  • Donate, DOnate, DONATE!  “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” DONATE.  There’s folks with next to nothing, just starting out, or trying to get back on their feet.  Do good and DONATE.  (Then write it off on your taxes.  That’s what’s in it for you – that and doing good.)
  • Sell it. Consign it.  Garage sale, Craigslist, Ebay.  Ask around – neighbors, friends, family, your local DIY maven.  😉
  • Pick up a new skill.  I can’t tell you how many “projects” I have had going on in my garage at any given time just to learn something new by using something old.  Even if you can’t use it, you can still donate or sell it after the fact.
  • Need to get out some frustrationsBreak it down and recycle it.  Wood, fabric, foam…. all recyclable or reusable.

 

What’s left?  Actual trash.

Or is it really?  I started paying attention to what we were throwing away and I noticed that it was all recyclable.  ALL OF IT – paper towels, junk mail, bags and boxes that food came in, packaging, did I mention junk mail (I hate that stuff), paper (shredded and not).  Now instead of dumping the bags from our 2 small kitchen trash cans in the trash bin, we just dump them into the recycle bin.  Easy and done.

 

None of these are new and folks that have been pushing and living The Green Life all along have said many of these things all along.  But you know how it is… some folks just have to see for themselves.

We literally have very little litter.  (Sorry I just had to do that; say it out loud 3 times fast. Hehehe.)  Seriously, every week now our recycle bin is practically full and most weeks we don’t even put out the trash bin.  That’s how little actual “trash” we produce, and all it took was rethinking how we were throwing things out.

This is not a political stance and I am certainly not saying the mind shift is easy.  But if we pick 1 thing to start with and make that a habit we can get there 1 step at a time, right?  And along the way we just might find that living The Green Life can also be simple and delicious and beautiful and rewarding in so many ways.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day y’all!  HAPPY SPRING!

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Living The Green Life

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