Earth Day 2017: 7 Ways to Green-Up Your Life

Earth Day 2017Most of us in Virginia can agree it's important to have clean air, fresh water, and a healthy living environment. Being eco-friendly is about living within your means, treading lightly, and using the resources you have wisely.

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, here are seven simple ways to green-up your life in 2017:

  1. Sharing is Caring: We learned this in kindergarten, right? Sharing is an easy way to reduce your impact and has the added benefit of connecting you to other human beings. Go in on a lawn mower with your neighbor or trade something you can do (like babysitting or cooking) with something you need (like help putting up shelves or a ride to the airport).
  2. Money Talks: Americans' ability to buy stuff is second to none; why not make an impact through something you're going to do anyway? Patronize restaurants that source their ingredients locally; shop for some items at your local co-op, or visit your weekly farmers' market for the best produce. And don't stop at food; support local booksellers, local shops, and local craftspeople where you can.
  3. Conservation Counts: No, we're not going to suggest reading in the dark or wearing long johns to bed. But don't let laziness get the best of you when it comes to conserving water and energy. Get in the habit of turning off the lights when you leave a room and learn to program your thermostat so the heat or air conditioning isn't blasting when you aren't even home. To conserve water, don't leave the faucet running while you're brushing your teeth or doing the dishes, invest in a water-saving showerhead, and use the timer on your sprinkler system. Also, be sure to water when it's cooler outside.
  4. Transportation Tricks: Again, buddying up on transportation not only helps to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, it also has the added mental health benefit of bringing you into contact with your community. Arrange a rideshare for your daily commute or your kids' extra-curricular activities; learn to use public transportation; or make a commitment to walk or bike to work one or more days each week.
  5. Viva la Vegetarian(ish): The cultivation of livestock has an incredibly negative impact on the environment, and the consumption of red meat has been scientifically proven to be bad for your health. But you don't have to give up red meat entirely to make a dent in the problem. Scale back your steak dinner frequency to once or twice a week, and you'll be contributing to the solution.
  6. Ditching Disposables: Convenience is a wonderful thing but it isn't always necessary. A few ways to cut down: Use cloth rags for cleaning and cloth napkins for dinner; bring your own coffee cup to the cafe and reusable bags to the grocery store; quit buying bottled water and buy a refillable water bottle instead.
  7. Recycling Reconsidered: It's an oldie but a goodie; recycling is a must in today's society, and it doesn't have to be difficult. Most cities offer weekly curbside recycling pickup for a very minimal fee. Buy a few cheap containers and sort recyclables as you go.

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