I like the idea of Lent. It’s not just for Christians either. It’s a great time a couple months after the New Year to renew your intentions, and to check yourself on the luxuries of life. In honor of “Lent” this year, I’ve taken a look at what I can do as an individual to be more friendly to my earth. It may sound cliche, but I sincerely believe that I have a responsibility to the earth around me, and I should have to answer to the conditions that I create. So here are some ideas for things that you can “give up” during Lent or any other time to be an environmental angel.
1. Plastic and Paper Bags – come on people! Get on the bandwagon and BYOB! It’s not only good for the environment to use those eco-friendly canvas bags, it’s also a very cool way to express your individuality and style! There are so many different types of canvas bags out there for you to choose from to let everyone know that you care about the environment and that you know what’s up!
2. Bottled Water – this one is tough to give up because bottled water is so convenient. But those bottles are just piling and piling in our landfills and they are NOT biodegradeable. It’s horrible for our environment, and when I think of all the bottles that have piled up in my car, I can’t imagine the negative footprint I’m leaving on the earth. So enough with the bottled water, I’m buying myself a couple cute metal containers and filling up my water bottles with the Brita. If you just can’t give up the plastic, check this – Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 could pose a health threat to you, so look for plastics numbered 1, 2, 4 or 5.
3. Unwanted junk mail and catalogs – Each year, 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. All those catalogs require more than 53 million trees and 56 billion gallons of wastewater to produce — and many of us don’t even know how we got on so many mailing lists! So grab that stack of catalogs piling up on your coffee table and clear out the clutter. Visit CatalogChoice.org to put a stop to unwanted catalogs. Within 10 weeks, your mailbox will be empty of unwanted catalogs. A less cluttered mailbox means less pollution, less waste and less of the pollution that cause global warming.
4. Conventional Detergents – Many natural detergents today are made to clean clothes just as effectively in cooler water temperatures. Choose detergents and other laundry products that are plant-based, concentrated and biodegradable. Also, those conventional detergents can give you nasty rashes with those fragrances and chemicals. Yuck!
5. The Dryer – The second biggest household energy user, after the refrigerator, is the clothes dryer. Overdrying your clothes can end up costing you money as well. (As much as $70,000 over your lifetime, according to the Green Cheapskate. An electric dryer operating an extra 15 minutes a load can cost you up to $34 a year in wasted energy.
4. Conventional Toilet Paper – Believe it or not, switching to recycled toilet paper can change the world. If every household in the United States bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, instead of the typical tissue made from virgin fiber, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons (1.35 billion liters) of fresh water and save nearly 1 million trees. And the best news is that a four-pack of recycled toilet paper costs about the same as a four-pack of conventional toilet paper.
5. Paper Towels – Waste. Waste. Waste! During your next trip to the grocery store, buy some reusable microfiber towels, which grip dirt and dust like a magnet, even when they get wet.
6. The Thermostat – Electric power plants are the country’s largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming. By snuggling under a blanket on the couch on a snowy winter night instead of turning up the heat, or enjoying the breeze from a fan in the height of summer instead of turning up the air conditioning, you can save pounds of pollution, as well as some money off your utility bills. Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees F (20° C) or less during the daytime and 55 degrees F (13° C) before going to sleep or when you are away for the day. And during the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees F (26° C) or more.
7. Dry Cleaning – Until recently, dry cleaners used some toxic, cancer-causing agents on their clothes. Yikes! If you HAVE to use a dry cleaner, make sure to take your clothes out of the plastic AS SOON AS POSSIBLE or ask your dry cleaner not to wrap your clothes in plastic at all!