June 29, 2011

Quick Start Guide to Going Green

Being green is good not only for the environment but your health and your wallet as well. Seeing as there’s so much benefit, you probably want to get right on it. Here’s a quick start guide to getting green:

Clean Green. Ditch those expensive, smelly, chemical-laden cleaning products in favor of cheap, non-toxic solutions you can make right at home. Put distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle to create an all-purpose cleaner you can use on glass, mirrors, doorknobs, appliances, counter tops (just avoid using it on marble), toilets, showers, and bathtubs. Add a little baking soda for extra scrubbing power. Spray your kitchen countertops with undiluted vinegar and then 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect. This combination is as effective as bleach at killing bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, but is safe enough to use on produce without so much as an aftertaste. As for your wood furniture, just mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice and apply it to your furniture using a soft cloth. You’ll save money on cleaning supplies, keep the plastic bottles they come in out of our landfills, and avoid harsh chemicals (many of which are known carcinogens) that can cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritations.

Drink Green. By using a faucet-mounted water filter you can save money previously spent on bottled water (which is often no cleaner than tap water), cut down on plastic bottles, and improve the smell and taste of your drinking water by removing chlorine and bacterial contaminants. Drinking enough water every day is essential for staying healthy If you have a ready supply of clean, good-tasting, inexpensive water, you will be more likely to drink those recommended 8 to 10 cups a day.

Travel Green. Choosing to walk or bike in place of driving will save gas money, prevent ozone-depleting exhaust, and benefit your heart health. Public transit is another green, wallet-friendly option.

Eat Green. Buying only organic produce is not an option for anyone and knowing which organic produce is worth the extra cost can be confusing. The Environmental Working Group offers a great resource with its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of the 12 conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides, along with a list of the 15 cleanest fruits and vegetables. According to the EWG, you can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce. You can print out a wallet-size list or download the iPhone app at http://www.foodnews.org/. You will spend your grocery money more wisely, send a message to the food industry about how you want your food grown, and cut harmful pesticides from your diet.

Garden Green. No food tastes better than the one you grow yourself. Pick up a compost bin from Home Depot, Target, Sears, or possible even your town’s Department of Public Works, and you are well on your way to growing your own organic produce. Using compost you create from food scraps and yard waste keeps organic materials out of landfills, saves you money on commercial fertilizers, and nurtures your soil for growing diet-healthy vegetables.


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