April is not only Earth Day, but Earth Month, a great time to learn more about how to live a life that is kinder to the planet and minimizes our consumption of resources and impact on the environment.
Choosing to DIY is a terrific way to reduce personal impact. Make your own whenever possible! :) A little resourcefulness and research will allow you to create your own unique version of pretty much anything, and doing so reduces consumption from manufacturing and waste through using recycled, repurposed, upcycled, or reclaimed materials! Do-it-yourself when designing, creating, building, and crafting!
This leads me to talk up my latest creations on the handmade front. I've been spending time designing cuff bracelets using lovely old buttons and pieces, scraps, and remnants of vintage & antique fabrics, laces and trim, and ribbons. Old feed sack, pieces of crazy quilt, dress remnants, old linens, scraps of lace and trim- all of it is lots of fun to create with. It's been fun to dig into the collection of pretty lace and linens I've been building. Vintage pretties are a huge weakness.
Here's a photo with some examples. Come and see more this Saturday, April 30th, at my table at Mt Lebanon's Earth Day Celebration!
Here are a few other tips I personally use to live sustainably. We have reduced our household waste to one kitchen trash bag per week since adopting some of these practices!
Choose just one or two to start with, or a few that make the most sense to you. And although making them a regular habit is best, doing them just whenever when you can is still awesome!
* Recycle everything!
Recycle everything possible in your area: glass & plastic, aluminum and tin, corrugated cardboard, paper board, newspaper, office paper, magazines, junk mail, phone books, electronics, batteries, cork, ink cartridges (most office supply stores), and more. Not every area has curbside recycling, and curbside recycling doesn't always pick up all of these things. But most areas have recycling centers where much of the above can be taken. Earth 911 is an excellent website that allows you to find your local recycling center and look up where to recycle anything you can imagine. Also, be sure to purchase products only in containers that are recyclable in your region.
Composting reduces solid waste being added to landfills and sent to incinerators & makes that waste a useful product while rebuilding the soil and enriching the earth, our gardens, and landscapes. Create compost from yard trimmings and household food waste (plant-based only). There are loads of how-to guides out there. :)
* Reuse shipping supplies.
Save bubble wrap, boxes, and envelopes from your own packages to send your new mail, both personal and business. Remove or cover old postage and postal markings and tape or stick on a new label. Cover any commercial markings on cardboard boxes. Use brown paper bags inside out to wrap boxes or black out writing. Make your own boxes with old cereal boxes!
* Purchase groceries with very little or no packaging.
When buying food, go for as little packaging and wrapping as possible. Buy fresh produce singly rather than in pre-wrapped multiples. Buy the largest container of an item that you can carry and afford, such as the jumbo-size laundry detergent rather than the smaller bottles. Buy in bulk at local grocery stores (may take some research to find one), and if possible, take your own recycled and reusable containers in which to carry the bulk items.
* When possible, walk, bike, or use public transportation instead of driving.
Bike to work, take the bus to an appointment, walk to the movies or the grocery store. Besides reducing energy consumption, walking and biking are great exercise!
* Garbage responsibly.
Many things we throw away can be harmful to wildlife or the environment. Use care when throwing away to minimize danger to animals, and make sure chemicals and other potentially hazardous household waste items are taken to proper sites for discarding.
* Eat organic and local.
There are countless reasons to choose organic and local as often as possible. The Eat Well Guide offers a great resource for finding sustainable food sources near you.
* Go veg!
Going vegan is one of the most important and influential actions a person can take to reduce their impact on the planet. Going vegetarian also has an enormous positive effect on the environment. Eating a meatless, plant-based diet even one meal or day per week can reduce environmental degradation in countless ways. Read about why going vegetarian is the easiest and quickest way to lower your carbon footprint, reduce pollution, and save energy and water. And see why the United Nations report agrees.
* Grow an organic garden.
Commercial farming creates large amounts of industrial pollution, and non-organic farming degrades the soil, water supply, and land. According to eHow Home, growing your own food reduces pollution, adds biodiversity and improves air quality, and is more nutritious! Making your garden organic makes food safer and healthier for humans and other living beings and the planet.
* Pick up litter.
If you go for walks, take along a bag and a pair of puncture- and water-resistant gloves to pick up recyclables and trash you pass along the way. Make the environment safer and prettier!
* Use a dishwasher.
According to Treehugger, using dishwasher uses only half the energy and one-sixth of the water than does hand washing dishes, and also uses less soap. Using the "light" cycle uses even less water, and letting dishes air dry rather than heat dry uses less energy. Also try to wait until the dishwasher is full before running a cycle to wash less often.
* Use cold water for laundry and dishes.
Both use less energy then using hot water, which requires heating. Line drying over using a dryer when washing clothes is another way to use less energy.
* Give away or repurpose unwanted possessions rather than tossing them.
Reduce landfill waste, consume less, and lessen the environmental impact of manufacturing new goods. Instead of throwing away what you no longer want or need, donate to charity thrift stores, give away items on Freecycle.com, sell used belongings in your local paper or on craigslist, or find a friend or family member who may want what you don't.