Green living is a concept that should come naturally to all of us but which sadly, despite our best intentions, might not be as simple as we might like it to be. It has become of utmost importance that our first step towards caring for Mother Earth’s well-being is making our future generations aware of how, with a few basic simple steps they could do a lot more for the environment than previous generations ever did. The idea is to start small; basic ideas for every day, mundane activities, which children, even from a very young age can identify with.
Telling your child to turn off the tap while he brushes his teeth because of the ever-spiralling utility bills, might not cut it, because the idea of paying for a commodity like water is not a concept that a young child can easily grasp. However, explaining that water is a natural resource and is essential for Mother Earth and her children (the trees, the animals, the birds) to be able to drink whenever they feel thirsty, might make a small child more receptive to the value of less wastage. This is just one very straightforward example on how to make even pre-school children aware of their responsibility towards the environment they live in.
But what about the older, supposedly wiser generation? There are a myriad of simple steps which we as homeowners, parents, employees and employers can take which would add to our green credentials. While we might be a long way away from getting any eco-warrior awards, a more thoughtful approach to our lifestyle would go a long way in doing our bit in healing the current state of our planet.
Our domestic life in general is perhaps the one single, major culprit in wreaking havoc with the size of our carbon footprint but with some changes this could easily be remedied. Today, white goods can easily be replaced to energy saving models at a reasonable cost which ultimately always proves to be cost-effective in the long run. Biodegradable cleaning products as well as natural/organic grooming products ensure that these are mostly eliminated and are not life-threatening to aquatic eco-systems.
Using the lowest temperature possible when washing, is also, though not quite as obvious, an environmentally-friendly change which we can all manage but tend to neglect. Several natural cleaning alternatives which our grandmothers used to swear by; lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and a little elbow grease not only help in eliminating chemical residues in our sewage systems but work out a lot cheaper! The same could be said for our choices in the beauty department; choosing wisely from an array of products which contain natural ingredients and the minimum of chemicals not only are a greener but a much healthier alternative.
Feeding our families can also present a minefield for the eco-conscious. Choosing organic foods when available, guarantees that the produce itself was not harmful to the environment which sustained it. No insecticides, pesticides or herbicides are used, as well only natural fertilisers are permitted to make the organic label. Failing that, choosing seasonal, local produce can also help, though in an indirect way; the lack of air miles – from supplier to table in a short time plus no need for refrigeration makes buying local a greener and much healthier option.
When renovating or doing up the home, even for first timers, besides the obvious energy saving solutions; photovoltaic panels, solar water heaters, energy saving lighting and other green measures, when decorating with eco-friendly materials such as bamboo or reclaimed or recycled materials, you will be sourcing cleaner, greener alternatives without having to take drastic, expensive measures.
Away from the home, fashion can also be a huge culprit for the wellbeing of the planet. Now more than ever our clothes are mostly made up of synthetic fibres – all forms of plastic which contribute to ocean plastic pollution in a subtle but pervasive way. These materials shed tiny plastic fibres, each time they are washed, fibres which inevitably add to the microplastic pollution of our oceans, ending up being ingested by all kinds of marine wildlife, which consequently end up on our plate. The way forward is to invest in clothes made of ethically sourced natural fibres, which are obviously more expensive but which if cared for in a proper manner will serve a lifetime. We must also change our mindset and do away with our need for cheap, fast fashion.
Getting to and from the workplace is always a bone of contention for commuters but using public transport or carpooling with colleagues is really the only way to not only save on fuel costs but greatly reduce toxic emissions on our roads. Aside from the daily commute, do we really have to go by car to run a few errands just a few blocks away? And when locally parking is at a premium, does it really make sense to waste unnecessary time just looking for a space, when a walk to your destination probably cuts the time of the journey by a considerable chunk? It’s of no use continually lamenting the state of the planet, when we cannot even manage a fifteen-minute walk to our destination and instead opt to drive there.
If we all took the time to properly manage the billions of tonnes of waste we produce each year, manage more efficiently our resources and avoid polluting our immediate environment, our children will inherit a much stronger planet than the one we currently live in. Bearing in mind the wise Chinese proverb, “Every journey begins with a single step”, making small and consistent changes every day will take us just one tiny step closer to healing Mother Earth.