Happy New Year! Xinnian kuai le! The start of a new year is a fantastic time to implement more ecological and healthier choices in your life! Whether you are new to Eco Living, or whether you want to live an even more environmental friendly lifestyle, it can be super easy to live green! Just one small change can make a big difference, not only for the Earth, but also for the wellbeing of your and your family’s health and, for many people, their spirit. Here are some of my favorite quick and super easy green tips!
Get around or travel more eco-friendly:
Try carpooling or taking public transportation at least once a week to help reduce CO2 emissions. Better yet, walk or ride your bike (which will also be healthier for you!). Admittedly, sometimes it isn’t always possible to carpool, take public transportation, walk, or ride a bike, especially if you live in an area like I do where local public transportation isn’t always readily available and most places are too far away to walk or ride a bike, so other ways to be eco-friendly: plan trips (go to stores or places in the same area during the same trip to save on gas) and drive a more fuel efficient car.
Use eco-friendly house cleaning products:
Many health food stores, and even some regular food stores and retail stores now sell green household cleaners. Green house cleaning products are biodegradable and usually don’t contain any toxic ingredients. Typically they are composed of a detergent (a synthetic ingredient, but sometimes naturally derived. Be sure to read labels carefully as some are harsh or irritating, while others are gentler) or soap, herbal ingredients such as extracts or essential oils, water, and some may also contain a few other non-toxic naturally derived (but synthetic) or completely synthetic ingredients in very low concentrations, such as a preservative. In many brands, water is low on the list so they are super concentrated so you don’t have to use a lot to get your dishes, clothes, and house clean! Of course, the most cost effective way to clean green is to make it yourself! You can create many great housecleaning products using a few basic staples such as liquid castile soap or detergent, vinegar, borax or baking soda, and also some antibacterial essential oils. For more information, check out my blog post on household cleaners and book recommendations on green cleaning, and my recipe for aromatherapy sprays on anb’s website (aromatherapy sprays can be sprayed in garbage cans or used to freshen the air. Also many can be used in skincare too!)
Support small businesses that are social or eco-conscious:
Some small businesses, including many all natural or natural based skin care businesses, use organic, cultivated with chemicals (which is organic but not certified), ethically wild-crafted, or fair-traded ingredients. Others donate to their favorite non-profit organizations. Check out many of the great ecological or social conscious companies on anb Mall, anb website, and anb Portal!
Volunteer or donate to environmental, animal, plant, or nature organizations:
If you have some free time, volunteer a couple hours a week at your favorite non-profit organization. They are usually short staffed or don’t have large budgets so they could use your help in saving the environment and helping out your local community! If you don’t have much time, and have a few bucks to spare, please donate and help support the work of these wonderful organizations!
Use reusable totes and bags when shopping:
Plastic bags can accumulate rapidly and take up space in our landfills and can injure or cause death to wildlife. Read my blog entry (see link below) for more information about reusable totes and where to get them!
Use cloth napkins and handkerchiefs:
During the holiday season, my sister and I always exchange hand made gifts (because it means a lot to us to create gifts for each other and since we are both crafty and artistic people ). Some of her gifts to me this year were several beautiful handmade handkerchiefs. Though they are very pretty (and almost a shame to use them as handkerchiefs or napkins), I’ve been happily using them. You can make your own or buy them from many green companies. They are very easy to clean: just throw them in with the rest of the laundry.
Use reusable cotton balls for cosmetic/skincare use:
Here is another quick eco tip that I used many years ago, stopped doing for a time (when I got really sick a few years ago) and started using again last year. I don’t like throwing away stuff when I can help it, so I used to make my own cotton ‘balls’ (pads or cloths rather than ‘balls’) out of scrap fabric. The ‘balls’/pads I am currently using are made by a baby and menstrual cloth company. Some people may like using organic cotton flannel cloth, but I prefer ones made from organic bamboo velour or organic cotton velour, both of which are super soft but absorbent. Wash them with your regular laundry in a mesh laundry bag. If you can’t find pre-made ones or don’t want to make your own, at least switch to using disposal organic cotton balls or pads available in many health food stores (since cotton is sprayed with a lot of pesticides).
For women: use cloth menstrual pads or other alterative menstrual products:
I’ve been using cloth menstrual pads for a while and I love them! Super comfortable, better for the Planet, and though they cost a bit more initially they are actually cheaper in the long run (since once you buy enough for your cycle, you don’t need to buy any more for several years). The best part: I no longer throw over twenty to thirty pads away every month! Many companies also offer other menstrual products like sponges and cups etc. There are a couple companies that sell disposable organic cotton pads and tampons too. Most health food stores carry the disposable kind, and a few even sell reusable pads and cups from the more popular menstrual cloth and alternative menstrual product companies. See the links below to my blog for six entries on general FAQ on using menstrual cloth pads (including disposable products and companies that sell cups and sponges) and also reviews of all the companies I’ve tried.
Use cloth diapers on your babies:
Babies are even more sensitive to environmental toxins than adults, so cloth diapers are a great health and green alternative to disposable diapers. Many menstrual cloth companies also make cloth diapers for babies.
For more green ideas:
Be sure to read my other Eco Living and anb website articles and recipes for other great green and all natural tips, such as recycling & reusing & reducing, educating yourself and others on green issues, using energy efficient technologies (like light bulbs), eating organic and local foods, the ecological and social benefits of all natural cosmetics, and recipes to make it yourself!
To make your own aromatherapy sprays (some can be used for housecleaning, others for cosmetic uses):
My blog entry on green housecleaning, written in 2006:
Blog entry on reusable totes, written in 2007:
Blog information and reviews on cloth menstrual pads: the first entry includes information on organic disposable brands, and a few companies that sell natural sponges and cups etc:
About The Author:
Li Wong has a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Biology) and has nearly completed her M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy. She has been crafting natural cosmetics and studying aromatherapy and herbalism since 2001, and is currently a student of Jeanne Rose’s Aromatherapy Studies Course. Environmental interests include conservation, botany, ethnobotany (uses of plants by indigenous peoples), mammals, organic standards in cosmetics, urban wildlife issues, environmental education and awareness, and public perception. Her all natural, eco-friendly, vegan cosmetic company will open very soon.
For more information on environmental issues, Eco Living, natural cosmetics, aromatherapy, and herbalism check out: Solarkat’s Eco Blog. http://solarkateco.blogspot.com/
If you have any questions on Eco Living please feel free to contact Li at: