Consider the various ways “green” is often perceived.
The positive perception of going green is understanding one person alone cannot be a superhero and save the entire world, but rather, each incremental change for the better contributed by people will eventually snowball into something great.
This way of thinking is empowering.
The negative perception of moving toward a green state is heavily measured against how a person is directly affected. Meaning: “How does this benefit me?” “What do I get out of this?”
This way of thinking is inhibiting.
Before I continue, please note that when I say "green," I don't mean we have to go about hugging trees or resorting to prehistoric living arrangements.
What I do mean is that promoting sustainable living involves incorporating environmental, social and economic awareness into our lives. It's a lifestyle of personal responsibility. In various ways, it means to live selflessly rather than selfishly.
Many people undervalue the impact of their actions and justify their lack of commitment to sustainable engagements because they do not see an immediate improvement to the larger issue at hand.
But we must be global citizens, and we must be held accountable for the actions involving our planet. To quote the wise (and dreamy) Leonardo DiCaprio at the 2016 Academy Awards, “let us not take this planet for granted.”
Acting conscientiously and understanding the impact our actions have on the environment is a great place to start.
Here are 11 other easy ways to incorporate green into our daily lives...
1. Grow your own.
Pesticide free. Need I say more?
Whether fruits, vegetables, nuts and other plants have been sprayed with pesticides is not typically disclosed.
Reading labels is often time-consuming, confusing and redundant. It's difficult to decode many ingredients. Growing what you can saves you the trouble of decrypting what you buy.
2. Unplug your electronics.
Unplugging saves energy and money. While some items are less practical to unplug than others, things like phone chargers, computers, blenders and other small appliances are easy to remove from the outlet and can be plugged in as needed.
3. Skip the plastic bags.
Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year and at least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year in the manufacture of those plastic grocery bags.
Reusable shopping bags are super inexpensive and way more chic than those flimsy plastic bags most stores distribute.
4. Avoid toxic chemicals.
We already know there's a direct correlation between the food we eat and our health.
However, what many people might not know is that toxic chemicals are lurking in mainstream personal care products, beauty products, cleaning products and other products, too, and can be just as harmful.
Get to know the stuff your skin is exposed to, you know, the stuff that ends up absorbing into your bloodstream.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, after all.
5. Resist fast fashion.
Fast fashion is addicting. It just is. Who doesn't love a bargain and the convenience of shop and go?
Mindless shopping is not only bad for our bank accounts, but the environment as well. The textile industry is one of the largest users of water.
Let's stop ourselves from mindless shopping and resist the lure of fast fashion even when items are conveniently and reasonably priced.
Fast fashion means fast spending. Chances are, next time you wonder where your disposable income went, check your closet.
6. Give your clothes a second life.
Now that we've managed to collect handfuls of clothing that no longer appeal to us (such as the “what were we thinking” pieces hanging somewhere in our closet or the one-off occasion dresses), it's time to responsibly dispose of our clothing.
Donating is one of the best ways to let things go. It feels amazing to give back to individuals who are less fortunate.
On the flip side, there are apps like Poshmark that allow you to maintain an online closet. This closet is filled with the items you want to sell and other Posh members can purchase. It's a chance to make some money off your clothing, while still giving your clothes a second life.
7. Mind your waste.
According to Duke University's Center for Sustainability and Commerce, the average person generates 4.3 lbs of waste a day.
The waste you and I produce in an average day is most likely unnecessary and negligent. Being mindful of this allows us to make better decisions throughout the day.
8. Turn the water off.
We are living amidst a water crisis on this planet: 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water; 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet.
Water is a luxury that people take for granted more often than not. Water tends to go unnoticed when it's there and noticed when it's not. Be thankful for the resources available at your fingertips and be careful of careless habits.
Letting the water run while brushing your teeth is not necessary. Nor is it necessary for people to water their lawns in the summer.
9. Buy a glass water bottle, and use it!
Look past the temptation of using unsustainable plastic water bottles. The process it takes for plastic water bottles to get from their starting point to their final destination is exhausting. From making the plastic bottles, to all the back and forth shipping it goes through, the bottom line is that it's wasteful.
Glass water bottles make it convenient for people to drink and refill responsibly. No, not the alcoholic way, but glass is the way to go for that too!
10. Buy adventures, not things.
Would you rather have 50 pairs of shoes or an abundance of amazing memories from excursions to exotic locations? I'm with you, I'll take the vacation please.
Buying adventures of all sorts allows us to focus on what really matters in life: building experiences and creating memories.
Things are nice to have, but they won't build character or compassion -- and they certainly aren't as effective as experiences in making us well-rounded individuals.
11. Be aware and spread awareness.
The circle of knowledge allows us to simultaneously teach and learn from others. At the end of the day, living sustainably is about bringing awareness to our actions, minimizing any negative footprints as we go and promoting positive change.
It's about thriving and not merely surviving.