We’re Makin’ It Easy For You!

Every so often we like to provide a quick and easy list of ways to incorporate green living into your everyday lifestyle. We’ve compiled some of our favorites that we think you shouldn’t forget. Keep this list handy as a quick reference. It’s easy to fall into our old ways and forget new ways of living cleaner, healthier lives.

Eat In-Season

Eating fruits and vegetables at the time of harvest means you’re eating them when they’re fresh, have traveled less and have been stored less. That means a tastier food that has typically required fewer resources to reach you. For instance, a blueberry in April (from Florida) to September (from Michigan) will arrive fresher — and cheaper — than its counterpart flown in from South America during the winter.
Who’s Green will always be providing you with in-season recipes along with a list of the fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. It makes eating in-season a no brainer!

Eat Real Foods
If your grandmother wouldn’t have immediately recognized it as “food” there’s a good chance it’s less food and more manufactured good. Who wants to eat a manufactured good? There’s a reason a Twinkie has a shelf life older than your grandma.
Real foods are the basis for a commonsense diet. The only processing food needs is the cooking you do at home. Chances are, the less processing a food has been subjected to, the less energy and fewer resources have been expended manufacturing, packaging and transporting it to your grocery store. And real foods haven’t had all the nutrition processed out of them .

Shop Local, Buy Local
We’ve said it before and we will say it again…Eating locally, and eating what’s in season is easier when you shop at farmers’ markets, farm stands or from a community supported farm (CSA is short for “Community Supported Agriculture”). Spending your money locally at local farms also means you’re helping to keep working farms viable.
Beyond that, when you shop direct from a farmer, you can ask questions about how produce was raised: “Were pesticides used? Fertilizers? What is she doing to control water pollution and soil erosion?”

Start Your Own Backyard Garden
There’s no farm like your own farm. The benefits of gardening go beyond food — time outdoors, quiet opportunities for contemplation, the satisfaction of having made something with your hands — growing your own food means complete control over the quality of your diet. You can also plan your garden to be part of a backyard landscape that supports birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife.

A small space is enough for a surprisingly productive garden (and don’t forget to look for community gardens you can join). Even a sunny set of front stairs, or a window box, is enough to grow tomatoes, herbs and some other yummy produce.

Learn to Perserve
If you garden or buy seasonal produce in bulk, you can make your harvest last for months by learning age-old preservation methods.
Whether it’s canning veggies, drying sunflower seeds, pickling cucumbers or making jams and jellies, there are simple techniques that can — with a little investment of time — make your dollar investment in a garden or a farm share really pay off.

Composting is quite simply- common sense. Why send nutrients to the landfill or incinerator, when you can transform them into compost that will nourish your vegetable or flower garden, or your indoor potted plants? You’ll save on fertilizer costs for the yard or garden, and you make good use of all the food you buy — even those parts you don’t eat.

Composting can be as easy as setting aside some space in a yard that can be kept free of animals and piling up vegetable and fruit waste (along with things like coffee grinds, egg shells and certain other foods and compostable packaging), as well as grass clippings, leaves and other yard waste.

And don’t think composting is just for people living with an acre of land. Kitchen compost bins and worm bins are available for urban composting, too. If you’re lucky, your city or community garden may even accept kitchen wastes for composting.

Buy Organic When Possible

Modern agriculture can be environmentally destructive by causing soil erosion, polluting water with fertilizers and chemical pesticides and, potentially, by altering the gene pool of natural ecosystems. Organic foods are produced without synthetic growth hormones, genetically engineered organisms, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers or manmade chemical pesticides.

Organic growing methods were developed by those who realized the longterm health of the soil — and its ability to continue to provide nutrients needed to grow food — depends on more than adding fossil fuel-based fertilizers, killing pests with toxic chemicals and planting genetically modified seeds that can withstand pesticide treatments. The Department of Agriculture’s organic certification is one of the most trustworthy labels available, and a handful of other organic labels are also meaningful, according to Consumers Union. (Note that, unless it says it’s 100% organic, it probably isn’t quite– certain ingredients that aren’t available in organic forms are allowed in foods labeled “organic.”)

Buy in Bulk

Two reasons: Less packaging, and less cost.

Packaging materials make up more than 30% of all consumer waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Buying in bulk eliminates packaging waste.
Beyond bulk, look for minimally packaged items, and items that are packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled materials, or can be composted.

Eliminate disposable bag waste by buying a couple good reusable bags — preferably made from recycled materials — and remember to carry them with you to the market, so you don’t have to struggle with the old “paper or plastic” question.
Green Clean
If you’ve gone through all the trouble of keeping any harmful pesticide residue from touching your vegetables, why would you want to use a pesticide (like an antimicrobial soap) or harsh chemical (like bleach) on your countertops, cooking surfaces and dishes?

Commercial cleaners made from less harsh and nontoxic ingredients have proliferated in recent years, making this an easy switch. But in most cases, you can save money by easily making your own effective cleaners  with simple ingredients like baking soda, borax, lemon juice and vinegar.

Buy Energy Star

When it comes time to replace an old appliance, the government’s Energy Star system is the best way to make sure you’re choosing one of the most energy efficient models on the market. Doing so will cut down on your energy usage, and costs, for the lifetime of the appliance — 10 years or more in many cases.

Energy Star currently certifies dishwashers and refrigerators and freezers. The refrigerator is typically the biggest electricity user in the house (though flat-screen TVs are giving the old fridge a run for your money), so be sure to choose wisely.

Save Water
Depending on where you live, saving water may be imperative or just plain smart. Here are six simple ways to save water:

1.    Identify and fix leaks in your faucet.

2.    Only run the dishwasher when it’s fully loaded, run it on the economy setting, and when it comes time to replace the dishwasher be sure to purchase one that is both energy- and water-efficient.

3.    Store a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator for an easy source of cold water.

4.    If you’re running the water to get it hot, save the cold water for drinking or cooking, and the lukewarm water for watering plants. (Because older homes may have lead pipes, it’s not wise to drink or cook with hot water, and it’s a good idea to flush out any standing water in the pipes before taking a drink; that flushed water is fine for houseplants.)

5.    Use commonsense: Don’t leave the faucet running if you don’t need the water. For example, use the drain stopper strategically, so you use a tub full of soapy water, or clean water for washing and rinsing dishes, instead of running the faucet.

6.    Don’t thaw meats or other items under running water. Plan ahead and defrost frozen items in the refrigerator or on the counter.

Amplify your water savings with additional energy (and cost) savings by checking the thermostat on your hot water heater. Set it so that the water remains hot but not scalding.

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