The end of the first week of 2013 is drawing to a close. While many of us have already given up on our New Year's resolutions, I'd like to make the case that it isn't too late to commit to living a greener lifestyle this year. Small changes really can make a big difference, especially when you add up the impact over the course of a whole year. The fact that we're already seven days into the new year doesn't change that.
But what changes to make? If you'd like to make some positive changes for a greener life in 2013, I have a few suggestions for where to start.
|Little shoots of green can spring up this year.|
Resolutions for a Greener Year Ahead
- Look at your cleaning products. Many of us are aware, by now, that most commercial cleaning products contain toxins. These substances can cause skin irritation, breathing problems, and in some cases may even be carcinogenic. The good news is that every time you finish a bottle, box or jar of one of your cleaning products, you can switch it out for something greener. Making your own cleaning products is surprisingly easy. Or if that's too much work, look for less-toxic alternatives.
- Read labels. Whether you're buying those cleaning products I just talked about, you're shopping for groceries, you're buying toys for your kids, or you're on the hunt for the perfect lipstick, read up on what you're buying. What does it actually contain? And if they won't tell you, what does that say about them? The more you know about what you're spending your money on, the better choices you can make.
- Buy less. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by stuff? I do, and I think many other North Americans can relate. The truth is that most of us have more stuff than we really need - maybe even more than we could ever really use. There's a reason that 'reduce' is the first of the environmental three Rs. Every time we don't buy something, we're saving all the resources that went into making it, and we're eliminating the issue of what to do with it when it's no longer useful. Plus, the less you buy, the more money you'll have for other things.
- Shop local. When you do buy something, see if you can find it locally. The fewer miles that something has to travel to get to you, the lower its carbon footprint. This is true whether we're talking about a carrot or a T-shirt. Plus, when you shop locally, you get to know people in your community, and support your local economy. Those are both good things. As well, you can often avoid the heavy packaging that comes with many imported items.