How to Make Greener Choices at Home

Earth Day

Earth Day image credit Laura Pope 

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to share ten things that you can do at home to help the environment. Helping the environment while I am living abroad can sometimes be hard. Here are ten things I do to help keep things green:

  1. Cloth Napkins

If you have ever been to my place, you know that I am not a fan of paper napkins. Sure, I buy them here in Venezuela, but they are mostly used as toilet paper back up! I normally just use kitchen hand towels, but I have been eyeing these cute printed napkins for a while now.

  1. Reusable Grocery Bags

I do nearly all of my shopping at local farmer’s markets so it only makes sense to use reusable grocery bags. I love the large size Ikea bags which I normally use for hauling everything on one shoulder, but this summer I am thinking about getting this cute “system” for organizing everything.

  1. Reusable Produce Bags

Again, because I shop 90% of the time at farmer’s markets in Venezuela I just put my produce directly into my reusable grocery bags. However, when I do shop at an actual grocery store, I would love to have these reusable produce bags.

  1. Say “No” to Bottled Water

If you see me at school, in my apartment, out on the town, or even out to lunch you are very likely to see either a reusable water bottle or thermos in my hand. When I travel I love the flexible water bottles that take up less room in my bag. When I’m at the gym I prefer my stainless steel Klean Kanteen. When I am at my desk or in my classroom I just want my giant Nalgene full of water and my Contigo thermos topped up with coffee. I am a reusable bottle addict!

  1. Shop in Bulk

When I lived in Oregon one of my favorite places to shop was called WinCo because I could always go to the bulk bins and buy as much or as little as I wanted. Now I live in Venezuela and I have to buy in bulk because if I find it today there is no guarantee that I will find it tomorrow! At home, I would put stuff in pretty reusable glass jars from Ikea (similar to these ), but in Venezuela, I just reuse any jars that I happen to come across. Storing dry goods in glass jars is also a good way to protect from little bugs that want to much on them!

  1. Use Cloth Dishrags

I grew up in a household that has always done this, so I was surprised when I first lived with roommates who wanted to wipe down tables and counters with paper towels. You can even find nice antibacterial ones if you are so inclined.

  1. Recycle More

In Venezuela recycling is basically non-existent. If I see a recycle bin I am always shocked and suspicious (do they really recycle it or is it there just to make us feel better). My school has created our own recycling center so I am always gung-ho about talking about ways to recycle with my kiddos. Think about getting something like this to make your recycling easier.

  1. Reuse/Repurpose Stuff

I’m not sure if it is because I am constantly surrounded by creative 8 and 9 year-olds, but I am always looking for ways to reuse those toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes. If you don’t have school-aged children to work with, see if there is a local school looking for supplies.  We are currently collecting bottles and cardboard to build a Mars colony that my third graders will be designing!

  1. Compost

At my last school, I started a composting system for the cafeteria which we planned on using in our school garden that the Green Team and I launched the same year. At my current school, we have the garden but haven’t gotten around to the composting yet. I would love to see this happen! At home in Portland, it seems like everyone I know composts. I’m thinking of buying this cute stainless steel compost bin for my mother to encourage my family to compost more.

  1. Stop Junk Mail

The first thing to do is to visit the websites of all of your credit cards, banks, and student loan providers and tell them to only send you notices and bills online. This is one thing you can do to easily control what you get sent to you. Next, think about getting an online version of your favorite magazines delivered straight to your email (I do this with Rethinking Schools!). Finally, sign up for a free account with Catalog Choice, and get removed from useless stuff that automatically gets sent to you.

Share below: what do you do to keep the earth green!?

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