Monday, April 18, 2011
Finding Green in Everyday Life
As I write this, I am watching a couple of young squirrels chase each other up and down a tree in the woods just beyond our backyard. Adorable and energetic, it occurred to me they represent the attraction Earth's nature has always had. We are drawn to watching the wild in its habitat. We are curious, awed, and sometimes inspired to keep it safe. A view from a window can draw us in and even offer a respite or serenity. We are part of this Earth and it is part of us.
Most of us do not need anyone to tell us we need to go green because we already live green. There are really very few people who do not do at least one or two acts of green living these days. Green living has become part of our lives--if only because our municipalities ask us to recycle or we buy organic because we think it is a healthier choice. Many grocery stores are no longer providing bags but are encouraging customers to bring their own. And more companies are producing products in a more concentrated form to avoid using more packaging. We are becoming more and more green whether we realize it or not.
When companies make decisions to provide more eco-friendly products or use less packaging, it makes it easier on us as consumers. We need not search far and wide to find products that are considered eco-friendly. Whether we make those conscious choices or not, the green of it remains. Our purchase and our use of those products makes us all green. Sure, there are many things we can do to be more green, more eco-friendly, but when governments and companies make decisions that guide is in a green direction--we all benefit.
Much of our vernacular in defining someone who lives an eco-friendly lifestyle includes words, such as tree-hugger, environmentalist, conservationist, and naturalist. These words seem to imply a sense of extremism--someone who would never use a paper towel or ride in a car or even live in a traditionally constructed home. Unreasonable as that may seem, we seem to impose these same guidelines on ourselves thinking we are not green if we are not going green all the way. There must be an all or nothing thought process and behavior. There must be a sense of perfection clearly leaning towards one side of something. Although the quest for perfection in all things is admirable, the attainment of perfection is rarely possible.
Having said that, I would never begrudge anyone their quest for perfection should that be their chosen path. Anyone attempting such a feat deserves great respect. On the other hand, I think those who juggle life, career, family, creative pursuits, volunteer and charity work, traveling, and hobbies deserve respect for giving so much of themselves to so many. All in all, we are a world filled with people of varying talents, gifts, and abilities. Would it be fair to require that we all behave in the same way? Defining ourselves in such a confining way can deter many of us from ever wanting to do anything green at all.
I think we, as human beings, are always on a quest to improve some area of our lives at any given moment. It is part of our nature, our evolution. If we are living green, can we live greener? Why, of course. Even if we have been able to find a focus and reach that stage of perfect sustainable living, there will always be something new to learn or some new tool that can assist us in that quest.
Some ideas -
How to remember to bring those reusable bags to the store:
-Store the bags in the front seat of the car, so you will see them when you grab your purse or list.
-Keep a note in the car to remind you to bring them inside the store.
-Keep the bags hanging in the area where you hang your coat.
-Use the folding bags that can be stored in your purse or pocket.
Make it easy to recycle:
-Store the recycle bin under your sink or by the door to the garage.
-Temporarily keep notes around to remind you what can be recycled until it becomes second nature.
-Recycle aluminum, plastic, and paper products. Check with your landfill as to what items are being accepted for recycling.
-Compost newspaper, cardboard, tea bags, dryer lint, pet fur,and cotton from pill bottles.
-Start a recycling bin at work or at your church.
-Bring your own bottled water in an aluminum reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. If you do buy bottled water, recycle the bottle.
Finding the green:
-Take reusable containers with you to the restaurant to hold leftovers instead of using the plastic or Styrofoam provided by the restaurant. (My husband and I love using the Tupperware Flat Outs for this purpose. They fold up nicely to store in the car.)
-Try to slowly add a new green living habit into your life as often as you can. Do this at your own pace. If we feel overwhelmed, we rarely stick with something.
-Make things fun. Include the kids, the family, or the neighbors. Green living does not need to be drudgery.
-Stop and think before throwing something out. Is there a reuse for it? Can it be recycled? Would someone be interested in having it?
©Michelle A. Potter
Posted by The Sage Butterfly