One of my friends asked me the other day for some tips on how to be a good environmentalist on a tight schedule. Here, I’ll divulge some tips on how to easily fit being green into the average American lifestyle.
Rule #1: Keep it Simple Stupid
I have set aside a specific location in my kitchen for my recyclables—a site that’s easy to access but is still out of the way. I actually keep my recyclables right next to my reusable shopping sacks—when I go to the grocery store I also take a trip to the recycling center. I am lucky enough to be within walking distance of both, but this can also be a good way to get the most out of a car trip if you are driving. Since I use a reusable sack, I have gotten into a habit of bringing it with me every time I go to the store. As an extra measure (as we can all be forgetful), I would suggest you keep an extra sack in the trunk of your car if you drive to the supermarket. Otherwise, just put it on your mental lists of things to bring with you. I find if I plan to go to the supermarket every Saturday morning, I have already created a routine and it becomes easier to remember my reusable sack.
Rule #2: Think Ahead
One conundrum that I have run into is how to buy bulk foods. Being a user of reusable shopping bags, it irks me to waste a plastic sack on account of my bulk granola or almond purchase. Therefore, I reuse these sacks as well. When I have finished my granola or almonds, I dump the crumbs and put the bag into my reusable shopping sack (reverting back to rule #1, Keep it Simple Stupid).
Rule #3: Skip the extra bags in the produce aisle
I only bag veggies and fruits if I feel it absolutely has to be done. This goes for items such as green beans, which are impractical not to bag and fresh lettuce, which is often too wet to put in my sack. As for everything else (including but not limited to bananas, apples, onions, avocados and zucchini) I skip a sack and throw it in my reusable bag.
Rule #4: Beware the bag boy/restaurant employee
This is where going green really starts becoming proactive for me. Nothing annoys me more than going through my clean mean green routine, and then having a bag boy/girl at a grocery store sack an item such as bananas. You have to be very mindful in these situations and request “no extra bags please.” Same thing goes when I order a sandwich at Subway or a delicious burrito bowl from Chipotle (you have to speak up loudly, clearly and quickly in these situations because these employees are often uber excited to bag you up—that’s their job, after all).
Rule #5: Cut down on the meat
I don’t think it’s much of a secret that the growth and transport of the meat we eat is a huge producer of greenhouse gasses. That’s one of the reasons that I choose to eat meat but twice a week. What’s more, I almost always limit my meat purchases to chicken, which is less carbon intensive to grow and transport than beef, for example. This is an easy decision for me, but for those of you who really love your meat, try to purchase a bit less during your next rendezvous in downtown meat town. You can complement your diet with other yummies such as fresh veggies and beans (There is nothing I love more than fresh veggie tacos—I’ll divulge my recipe in another post).
While I am no perfect environmentalist, I hope this post effectively shows you that there are some really simple ways to green up your life. For those readers who have extra tips to share, feel free to comment.