Wednesdays are garbage days at my house. This morning I peeked through the window at the lovely garbage men taking away this week’s trash. Firstly, I say “lovely garbage men” because the two young guys that run the route through Slippery Rock are some of the nicest public service workers I’ve ever known (unlike the postal workers…where do they find those people?). They always wave hello, they always take away whatever crazy items we happen to set out for them (mattresses, exercise equipment, a bajillion disposable diapers…), and they never try to run over my obnoxious dogs that love to harass them while they work.
Secondly, watching my garbage men work made me consider the future for my children. What will the world look like 30 years from now? 50 years from now? When my kids are old enough to have their own kids, will they even want to? Or will their world be such a mess having children would be an act of irresponsibility?
So in honor of the great garbage guys of Slippery Rock, and in an effort to make this world a little more lovely for the next generation, here are a few ways to make your lifestyle a little greener:
1) Wash with cold water. About 90% of the energy used in laundering is from heating the water. Only use hot water for very heavily soiled items like poo and spit-up stains. Also, try to re-use items that haven’t been worn or used for long (hats, pajamas and towels can all be used more than once before washing).
2) Grow your own herbs. I’ve never been great with plants, but herbs are (for the most part) super easy to maintain and take up very little space. Herbs like parsley, rosemary, basil and sage only take a few weeks to sprout and can sit right on your windowsill. For a whimsical touch (and extra “green” points), plant your herbs in teacups, empty candle jars or tin cans (peel off the manufacturer’s label and get your kids involved with redecorating their own personalized labels!).
3) Shut off the water. When you’re brushing your teeth, doing your hair, washing the dishes–shut off the water when it’s not in use! This is such an easy green tip, but it goes without saying that the environmental impact is huge. Teach your children early to do the same!
4) Make your own toys. If your kids are anything like mine, they have a box stuffed full of toys, but they only play with about a fourth of them…or less. Sure, new fancy plastic toys can be fun, but most of the toys my kids love are soft and cuddly bears, puppies and dolls. And they’re so easy to make! Try these instructions for making your very own rag doll.
5) Shop locally. See those little stands on the side of the road? Or the signs advertising for the farmer’s market? Shop there. Buy fruits, veggies, fungi, bread and loads of other good stuff there. It’s good for the earth, good for your body, good for your community and good for the economy. What else is there to say?
These are just a few tips to help your family live a more green lifestyle. Let’s work together to make the earth we leave behind for our children a little better, and the work we leave behind for our garbage men a little easier!