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A Greener Planet 101: will you help or hinder?

Go Green in Four Easy Steps

With the “springing” of Spring and all of its holidays: Earth Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays galore, and this year an election, I found this post by Green Mama contributor and yogi, Insiya Rasiwala-Finn to be well suited to the time. (Have you signed up to get the weekly Green Mama post delivered to your inbox door?)

Last night, I saw a brilliant, clementine/ fiery pink sunset over the walls of our little Bali house, where we’ve been ensconced since April 1 and I was reminded again of just how lucky we all are, despite everything negative, everything contrary, to be living right now, in whatever place we’re in and to be alive on this bountiful planet, that yep, we ought to save, cos, after all, as the bumper sticker says, isn’t it the only planet with chocolate?

1. Green Your Wallet

Simply put, put your money where your ethics are.  In fact have a little checklist.  Here is mine, maybe it will help:

Buy sustainable products, by that I mean, things that are made ethically all the way from inception to when you find them in your hands.  It’s called the “green loop” and now there are so many products that you can purchase from organic whole milk yoghurt to pasture raised meat, to bicycles, where you can scan a number onto a website and actually follow your purchase all the way from its birth, into your home or belly. (Beware of greenwashing and learn to read labels.)

Purchase things that are made to last a long time.  Even with technology. Try to use your apple laptop even if it’s last year’s model, unless it’s desperately impeding the speed of your work.

Buy Local: This applies to wherever you are.  Buy what is made right there if you can, it supports the local economy in ways no big chain store possibly can.

Buy Organic: This applies mostly to to food. (I rank local higher than organic, since I don’t want to buy an organic apple that comes all the way from New Zealand when its out of season here.)  And know that when you are supporting organic agriculture, yes, you are helping your own health, but more importantly, you are really allowing local seeds to thrive in their locality, reducing the number of pesticides in our global food system and thus alleviating their impact on all the plants, animals and us humans that are impacted by the widespread use of these toxic agents.  It is better for us and for the planet, what could be an easier choice to make?

Buy Seasonal: Again, this applies mostly to food, but wow, celebrate the fruits and vegetables of each season and look forward to when they will be back. I still remember savouring the taste of summer’s first mangoes as a child growing up in India. They were so fresh you could immediately tell that they were from a particular mango growing region. Who wants to eat produce that is stuffed in cold storage for months, when the fresh stuff tastes so much better!

2. Green Your Home

Fact: 15% of our electric bill is consumed by vampire power, the electric power consumed by electronic appliances while in standby mode or switched off. Need I say more? Unplug your computer when you are done writing your blog post. Unplug that hairdryer before you leave for work. And smile, knowing you’ve helped just a little bit.

Allow for Natural Airflow:

Turn the heat down, turn the A/C off (or lower) and use fans and natural ventilation as much as possible. Opening windows is one of the best things you can do for your indoor air quality. Fresh air is better for your skin and saves electricity.

Bring the outdoors in:
Bring some air purifying plants into your home or work space.  Even if you don’t have a green thumb, put seasonal branches or leaves and flowers, you don’t have to get fancy, less is more here, allow the beauty of nature to speak through a display in a simple, ceramic vase.  It will brighten your day and be a reminder of the beauty of green.

Use only Natural, Biodegradable Cleaning Products:
My old boss Chip Wilson at lululemon always said, “clean a kitchen countertop with an eco cleaner because you never know who will make a sandwich there.”  I say, extend that to your entire home. The bathroom, the bedrooms, the living room.  With a little toddler in my life, I know that NOTHING is out of bounds.  I want my home to be squeaky clean (well as clean as possible), but I want everything he touches, that we touch to never harm us in anyway possible.

If you’re in the USA, you can look for products with the Green Seal on them, while the Eco Logo/Bio Vert logos are the ones to look out for in Canada. Learn more about the how and why of green cleaning or to be super-environmentally-friendly and save money you can make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar, and water. You’ll be surprised at how well they do their job.

3. Green Your Food

While the paleo diet has been all over the news recently, how complicated have you got to get about food? I think Michael Pollan said it best in his book In Defense of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  I’ve touched upon the food topic above a little bit in the Green Your Wallet section of this post but here are some great insights from Mr. Pollan himself, that make (to me) so much sense.

Interview with Michael Pollan about food.

You can eat well and still eat affordably. Take baby steps. Eat whole foods, i.e. foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, without us messing with their intrinsic “ness,” eat organic, eat local, eat seasonal. Commit to eating one vegetarian meal a week.  Or commit to always buying organic if not all your produce, at least the dirty dozen.  Join a CSA or get an at home organic delivery box service.  Eat colourfully, eat diversely and most importantly, take a breath and savour your food, either alone or in the company of friends.

4. Green Your Out-and-About

Green your transit:  Commit to biking, running, carpooling, taking public transit – whatever your possible option, make it
happen, even once a week will count.  US commuters wasted 4.2 billion hours sitting in traffic in 2005.  Consider how much time you will gain with your new travel rituals.

Bring your own BAG that is.  Make this the year when you keep a reusable bag on your person at ALL times.  I speak from experience.  I stash reusable bags everywhere now, in my son’s diaper bag, in my purse, in my laptop bag.  I always seem to have a use for them.  I also keep one in the car.  And honestly, there are still days when I go to the grocery store without a bag and leave juggling various jars and veggies in my arms.  So just do yourself a favour and keep a bag on you at all times.  You will thank me.

Take a Nature Appreciation Moment:
For most of us, connecting for a moment to the nature outside our city apartments helps lift the spirits. Here’s how you can try it today:

Go for a little walk around the block.  Observe for a few moments, the light amidst the trees, or see a shrub growing through the sidewalk crack.  Or notice the colour of a flower, or a bee, or a bird, or take in the sky at sunset.  Resist your urge to instagram these moments.  Instead, just pause, look deeply, take a breath in.  Hold that beauty inside, then let it go.

By The Green Mama contributor Insiya Rasiwala-Finn. For more great articles on life as a green yogi visit Insiya’s site: Yogue. Get green mama tips and help delivered directly to your INBOX weekly, sign up today!

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