2013 in sand on beach

Going “green” doesn’t have to be complicated and painful. Here are five relatively easy steps to take to make your lifestyle a smidgeon greener.

1. Buy less and buy smart: Check those labels. Search out brands and products that reflect your eco-friendly lifestyle. There can be tremendous differences in the contents of everyday items like laundry detergent …. and don’t rush out to buy the next Snuggies or Furby. Garages and basements all over the world are filled with products and gizmos that we really didn’t need – the solution – don’t buy that junk in the first place. It’s important to support brands and products that reflect your values (stay out of that big box store). Don’t be a victim of fads and the mega-brand marketing machine. Look for items that perform more than one function so you can Do more with less.
2. Keep it local: Shop at your local hardware store instead at the big box. Buy veggies from local farms and farmers. Search out local craftsman for things like furniture and home decor – items that can often be made of reclaimed wood are usually of the highest quality. Keep small businesses alive.
3. Recycle and reuse more: Make sure you go the extra step in getting your refuse into your local recycling stream and out of the landfill. Also, forget using paper towels and small versions of things (like bottled water) that come in plastic containers. Start using simple things like reusable dish towels, reusable water and drink bottles and reusable grocery bags. Little things can make a big difference.
4. Try to live more sustainably: Install programmable thermostats in your home, you’ll save time and energy. Start a garden. If possible, grow your own fruits and veggies. Even apartment dwellers can start a container garden or kitchen herb garden. Gardening can help both your pocketbook and your waistline. Purchase vintage clothing and used products to save money and add some character and style to your home or wardrobe. If you’re at the beach or a park, pick up some trash to help the community – you can never have enough clean, natural space (or good karma).
5. Drive less and drive ‘green’: Be aware of your driving patterns. Drivers can increase their gas mileage and reduce their emissions by driving sensibly. No quick starts and stops. Use that HOV lane and cruise control. If you have a short commute or your grocery store is nearby hit the streets on your bicycle and save on fuel and emissions. Make your next car a fuel efficient model.

New Years 2013 image in sand photo via shutterstock.com