When my daughter was born in 2005 I transitioned from working full-time to working part-time. Then shortly after my son was born in 2008 my company underwent a massive downsizing and so I transitioned to working part-time from home. It was good. I was able to spend more time with my children during their early years. I volunteered in classrooms and baked my own bread. I gardened and upcycled and read books on green living.
I have always been concerned about the environment, but having children increased my stake in our planet. And working a reduced schedule, much of it from home, gave me the time to research green living and make changes. I have been lucky, and I know it. Not everyone has the resources to do what I have done. When you're pressed for time and money it's that much harder to spend your evenings on green do-it-yourself projects. I get it ... and I am about to experience it first-hand.
In a week and a half I am starting school full-time. For the next 12 months I will be working hard to earn my teaching degree. Once I have earned it, I will (hopefully) be working. At minimum, I will be working to secure a job. So for the first time in more than 10 years I am going to be out of the house for eight hours or more a day, five days a week. I will simply not have the time to live the lifestyle I've built as a mom who spends all her time at home. So I have been researching ways to live green when you don't have a lot of time. Here are the top 10 ways I will be going green while studying full-time.
10 Quick and Easy Green Living Tips
- Pick up Trash - We all see trash on the sidewalk, right? Picking up someone else's garbage can help keep our world a little cleaner. Here's how one person does it.
- Carry Reusables - I have a couple of reusable nylon bags that fold up really small stashed in my purse and my backpack, and I carry a stainless steel water bottle, to reduce trash.
- Soft Copies - One of the big changes from the last time I was at university is how much material can be accessed online. Whenever possible I opt for e-textbooks and keep articles and emails online. Since I already have a tablet and laptop this lowers my eco footprint.
- Pack Garbage Home - My university has composting and recycling stations, but many schools, workplaces and public spaces don't. When I have recyclables or compostables and no place to put them, I bring them home to dispose of them properly.
- Take Shorter Showers - I love to luxuriate in my shower, but I will no longer have the time. Luckily, by reducing your time in the shower you're also reducing your energy and water use.
- Skip Straws - When you do find yourself eating out, skip the straw. You don't need it and it will just be thrown away. Or bring your own glass or stainless steel straw.
- Turn Down the Water Heater - I admit it, I love hot water. But heating water uses energy. Turning down the thermostat on my water heater takes seconds, and saves money and carbon.
- Program the Dishwasher - I can set my dishwasher to run in the middle of the night ... but sometimes I don't. If I make this change I will be reducing the load on the power grid during peak hours, and possibly saving myself money in the bargain.
- Update the Thermostat - Like many people I have a programmable thermostat. It's currently set up to reflect the fact that I'm at home all day, though. Updating this will again take almost no time, but save money and carbon.
- Source Non-Toxic Personal Care Products - I've been making my own deodorant and experimenting with other green personal care. Some of it is easy - like not washing my face - but some of it takes time I just won't have. For those things that will be harder to swing I'm cutting myself slack and buying greener products. If you're currently using conventional products this a very easy change to make, replacing each product as you run out.
Do you have any quick and easy green living tips? I could use your ideas!