Nature in my hands

Are you ready to make a commitment to be kinder to the planet? Earth Day, coming up on April 22, is a great time to dip your toe into the “green” world. Going green doesn’t have to be intimidating — just start with baby steps. While some of these steps may seem obvious, even the smallest changes can add up to make a difference.

1. Ditch plastic

Okay, look around. You’re probably using more plastic in your daily routine than you’re even aware of — and we’re willing to bet cutting back won’t inconvenience you that much. One of the easiest ways to reduce plastic use is to stop buying bulk plastic water bottles and instead invest in a refillable BPA-free water bottle that you can use again and again. Instead of accepting those plastic bags at the grocery store, bring your own reusable bags, and use reusable containers for lunches and storage instead of multiple plastic bags. Every little bit helps combat the plastic crisis.

2. Save water

While a nice, hot bath may seem like the perfect way to end a long day, it’s a large drain on a limited resource. And if you regularly bathe instead of shower, your water consumption will be considerably higher. Consider transitioning to showers to help conserve water. And if you still have a high-flow showerhead, swap it out for a low-flow showerhead. Even easier: Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth. With a few small changes around the house, you can really reduce your daily water use.

3. Cut down on paper

Technology can be a huge helper when it comes to reducing the resources we consume. Sign up for electronic statements for your utility bills, credit cards, and banks. There are numerous (free!) apps that can help you eliminate your paper calendar, notebook, and sticky notes. Check out Good, Better, Best — Cutting Down Paper Waste for more ideas.

4. Conserve energy

Here’s an easy tip: Conserve energy simply by turning off lights and other appliances when you’re leaving the room. Remind other family members to do this: Even toddlers can help! Open the windows and take advantage of natural light (and the nice weather!) when you have the chance. Go a step further and replace your incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs, such as LED bulbs. It’s not only good for the environment, but it can help you save money, too.

5. Visit a farmers’ market or join a CSA

Instead of buying your fruits and veggies from a huge grocery chain, support your local growers. Start by visiting a farmers’ market to pick up some fresh organic produce. You may even decide that a community support agriculture (CSA) subscription is right for you.

6. Flex your green thumb

Alternatively, you can start your own garden at home. Doesn’t sound like a baby step? Just start small and see if gardening works for you. Container gardening is an easy way to start. Both container gardens and vertical gardens are good choices if you have limited space. If you’re already gardening, have space, and are ready for the next step, you could even set up a greenhouse.

7. Precycle

Finally, you don’t have to reduce waste if you avoid it in the first place. The practice of precycling — planning your shopping ahead of time to buy sustainable products and exactly the amount you need — is a great preemptive measure that’s easy to incorporate into your shopping habits!

Truth be told, there are many shades of “green.” But doing small things to reduce your footprint on the planet can help you reach a deeper shade day by day.

Feature image courtesy of f/orme Pet Photography. Originally published on April 21, 2015, this article was updated in April 2021.

By Molly Smith

Molly Cerreta Smith has been writing as a passion for as long as she could hold a pen and professionally for more than 15 years. Molly has hundreds of local and nationally published articles under her belt on topics including health and fitness, pregnancy and motherhood, food and dining, businesspeople, pets, travel, green living and love. When she’s not putting pen to paper, she loves reading, baking, sweating it out on a hiking trail or in a Zumba class, and engaging in “game nights” with her husband and their two kids.