It’s Easy to be Green if You Know These Simple Secrets

By  0 Comments

Climate crises are not new. In the 1930s, the Dustbowl was caused in part by misguided farming practices on the Great Plains. Thirty years later, the use and misuse of pesticides, chronicled in Rachael Carson’s book, Silent Spring, had become an ecological disaster.

By the end of the 1960s, industrial pollution was so bad that Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, filled with deposits of sewage and industrial waste, caught fire. The public reaction to this disaster helped start a national movement resulting in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The next year, on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day signaled the beginning of a cultural movement when 20 million Americans attended events to support a newborn ecological movement. Now, in the 21st century, people are discovering that the remedy to environmental problems can be found, in part, by individual actions.

Living a “green life” doesn’t need to be complicated. Everyone can be an environmental superhero. What can you do?

Cut Down On Energy Usage
This doesn’t mean turning off all the lights in your house and using candles. However, the National Resources Defense Council estimates that appliances that are sitting idle waste a quarter of household energy. But, you can save 10 percent of your home energy use and save money.

Toasters and coffeemakers are a start, but you can also unplug large appliances such as washers and dryers, televisions and computers when they aren’t being used. Just plug these into a power strip, turning them off with one flip of a switch.

When you invest in a new appliance, look for the Energy Star label, an EPA designation making it easy for people to identify efficient appliances. Some may initially cost more, but in the long run, they can help cut significant amounts from energy bills and help minimized greenhouse gas emissions.

Adjusting heating and air conditioning temperatures can also save a lot of energy and money. Thermostat fine-tuning by just a few degrees can help a lot. Don’t heat or cool areas that aren’t being used or when no one is home. You can also adjust your water heater’s temperature setting a few degrees without even noticing.

Remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
We may be living at the beginning of the end of what is called the throw-away culture. People are getting serious about cutting down on disposables by bringing their own cups to coffee shops, reusable bags to supermarkets and avoiding throwaway packaging. These are small efforts, but it’s a good start.

For items that can’t be reused, there’s recycling. Recycling is an important way to help keep items out of landfills. Across the country, municipal and commercial recycling programs have been wildly successful in gathering acceptable items to turn back into usable products. Programs can differ greatly from city to city, so check with your recycler to learn the rules in your area.
Recycling has been in the news because China has announced that they will no longer accept some items, at least for now, forcing many programs about to send about 20 percent of items to landfills or burners. But in many places, recycling programs continue to be popular and successful.

You Are What You (Don’t) Eat
Americans waste a lot of food. Nationally, more than 30 percent of food is wasted, according to some estimates. If food waste were a country, it would emit more greenhouse gases than any country except for China and the U.S.A. In the United States, much of that food waste happens in the home. What can you do?

Just because a product has passed a “sell by” or “use by” date does not mean it is unhealthy or even bad tasting. Exceptions are baby formula and some dairy products. So, don’t throw away good food.

Leftovers can be used as well. Leftover baked chicken makes a great chicken salad. Leftover beef stew can become a gourmet soup when you add some caramelized onions, beans or lentils, some cooked pasta, broth and a splash of red wine or sherry.

You can also help by choosing food products that use less energy to grow or ready for market. Choose grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry (no antibiotics, less energy needed and less methane from cow burps), organic produce and locally grown foods when possible. If you can, grow some of your own; even a few pots of peppers or herbs can help.

Farmers’ markets and some grocery stores have begun to sell “ugly” fruits and vegetables. They are as delicious as the picture-perfect fruits. Don’t turn down or toss away a lumpy-looking apple or a melon with a small bruise.

Make green a habit. You don’t have to save the world on your own, but small actions, a little here and a little there, can make all the difference. ■

Sources:,, and