When it comes to living green (or going green), the first few steps are crucial. The overwhelming amount of information that the internet churns up, can deter the most determined of people from making green changes to their lifestyles. On the other hand, planning for an achievable target can enable you to understand your challenges and play to your strengths when trying to make eco-conscious choices.
Small changes you make in your daily life go a long way in helping our planet, so the first thing to do is to tell yourself to go slow, go easy and (eventually) go far.
A quick search using key words such as ‘green living’, ‘cheap green hacks’, ‘eco-friendly lifestyle’, etc. will throw up millions of lists, videos and links to basically help you transform into a green-composting-vegan god(-dess). The truth, however, leans a little toward the negative when it comes to actually living with these ‘extreme green make-overs’. Today I am going to share with you the most common green living trends and easy ways you can implement them into your everyday life.
Here are some popular searches from all over the internet and what you can do to scratch that ‘green’ itch:
QUIT MEAT AND GO PLANT-BASED
After years of being told that meat is good for you and protein derived from animals is far superior than that from non-meat options, the tables suddenly turned and now you find out that it was all a ploy by the meat industry to keep you hooked. And now, everyone and their postman want to go vegan.
So, the question is, how can something so obviously important be so difficult to include in our daily life? Because, it’s food. And when it comes to food we have emotional attachments to certain foods that make it hard to give up.
Food makes us get up out of bed and do things so we can earn and eat
and be merry. It’s difficult to take something essential and overturn its very
idea in a few short days.
The cure? Take it easy. Ask your friends and family to help out. Get them to
reduce their meat intake together with you. Do a round at your local grocers’
and supermarkets and see what alternatives they have in stock and if they
can be relied upon.
Don’t suddenly stop. Try vegetarianism for a while. In fact, do it for as long as it takes for you to figure out what you can practically do. This way, incorporating soy and nut butters/milks won’t be an expense you ‘have to’ make but a choice ‘you can’ make when you feel you’re ready.
HOW TO GO PLANT-BASED
The key to your success in going plant-based is making it affordable and easy. The biggest way to make plant-based foods more affordable is to make meals from scratch using whole foods and learning how to plan and execute weekly food prep like a pro.
Forget the prepackaged vegan foods - not only are they often filled with preservatives and additives - they are also very expensive. Choose seasonal fruit and vegetables, organic tofu, beans, legumes, nuts, brown rice, quinoa and whole grain pastas.
Take the time to work out a simple menu for the week using the ingredients that are affordable for you. There are plant-based recipes galore on the internet - a great starting point is the recipe resource over at forksoverknives.com
When planning your meals also take into consideration your tastes and preferences for food, and not what is easier. Do you like chilli bean stew, dahl, green curry or tomato pasta? Food that feels good to eat is far better than one that looks good in a photo - especially when you will probably be eating the meal for dinner and then more than likely for lunch the next day.
Once you have narrowed down a few recipes it is time to make the dishes - and food prepping is key to success in a busy life. But take it slow and steady - it should be an enjoyable process not a chore.
Sure, we all want to be like our favorite influencer/youtuber and become an expert meal-prepper in our first try. Whilst this is very appealing (especially if you’re on Instagram) it is also very ambitious. Not only can be it difficult to prep
your entire week in one afternoon/day, the fact that you will be eating re-
heated frozen food can be off-putting at times.
If you find that you just get too overwhelmed trying to meal prep for the week ahead. Ditch the prepping for the entire week, start with prepping for just the weekend. Or any two days you want. Alternatively, do only one meal per day. Meal-prep is a lifestyle change and should be treated that way.
The key to long-term success is to take it slow and work from your actual meal habits and make smaller changes to suit the prep plan.
BECOME A MINIMALIST
This one is tricky. On the one hand, it promotes anti-consumerist living and has a lot to offer. On the other, it basically asks you to give up everything in a flash and be generally okay with having next to nothing.
When I started minimizing my life, I remember regretting giving away my recliner for weeks after. I almost bought a new one! But eventually I found a better way to watch TV (a soft yoga mat and a pillow on the floor) and sanity was restored. But I do wish someone had told me to ease into the minimalist life. I’ve been a big city girl all my life and there are things that I simply don’t wish to do away with.
To get started on your minimalist journey start with the absolute frivolities. Extra make-up and cosmetics, oodles of clothes you’ll never wear, shoes that are drying up from not being worn, pens and pencils bought on a whim, knick-knacks that have no use to anyone, even accessories, hobby items and collectibles that hold no value except that you spent money on them once – these things create clutter and if you’re like me, anxiety.
HOW TO ADOPT A MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE
Well in the big picture it is easy - stop accumulating stuff. I know - easier said than done right! Well maybe start by giving some of your stuff away to someone in need or selling them off for a quick buck might be a good idea to get started. Then when you feel up to it - really make and effort to stop buying more and see the corners and shelves in your home free-up in no time!
And for a little inspiration check out our simple living collection there are plenty of articles on how to down-size your wardrobe to adopting the mindful consumption approach.
Also you may enjoy these articles:
- How to downsize your life
- Embrace the Slow Living Movement
- Créez votre Chef d’oeuvre: A New Beginning
- Consume consciously and change the world
If you look for ways to go minimalist on the internet, you will also find results on going ‘zero-waste’ competing for your attention. It is SO attractive to someone looking to be more eco-conscious to see people controlling their consumer habits in such incredible ways that they are able to fit their five years’ worth of ‘trash’ in a mason jar.
I want to know, though –how many people in the world have actually achieved this and which countries are they from? Because my suspicion is that these ‘habits’ speak volumes about the economy they live in.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR WASTE
The cure? Understand your role in the environment first. What do you use?
What do you waste? Is your trash mostly packaging? Because you cannot
control that for the most part, aside from just not using certain items or buying
locally. What do you do with food waste? How do you get rid of old clothes,
shoes, etc.? Finding answers to these questions will help you identify the
pockets of waste you may be creating around you and which ones you can
eliminate/cut down on. Slowly, you will build habits that support sustainable,
zero-waste living which will be enduring and good for everyone around you.
Read how to refuse and reduce plastic consumption
SWITCH TO ORGANIC GOODS
A conversation about becoming more planet-friendly is never complete without a healthy smattering of buying organic. From whole foods to perishables and everything in between, organic is the new black.
Going completely organic with your daily essentials may mean a complete
lifestyle change, including what you spend on these things. The price tags on
organic products is enough to make you rethink your greener alternatives and
stick to something that is at most cruelty-free but affordable.
In most developing countries, buying organic means going to a fancy shop or boutique and daring to buy oddly labeled things that you might not even like.
Perishables aside, it is even more difficult to buy organic everywhere because
the difference in the cost is considerable and not always an option everyone
HOW TO CONSUME MORE ORGANICS
The cure? Do your research before you make the decision to switch. If something is not organic but not essentially harmful, don’t change it. And there are certain things that are grown naturally organic - like coconuts for example.
When going shopping, do a pre-shopping search to find stores near you that stock both options so you can compare first-hand. For cosmetics and clothing, go online for more affordable options. Try and keep everything more simple - for example do you really need a morning and night cleanser? Maybe consider a simple jar of coconut oil that will both cleanse and moisture the face - and it is great for a body moisturiser.
When I wanted to stop using chemical sanitary products, the first result for biodegradable pads was for brands such as PeeSafe and Carmesi, and I had to think twice before buying because of their exorbitant prices. Then I found Heyday, which was one-third the price and just what I needed to have a greener period. Now I keep extras in my pocket and hand them out with little notes appealing to others to make the switch too. Sure, Heyday don’t have fancy boxes and double packaging and their pads don’t look as good, but considering what I save and what I use them for, I need no frills here and you won’t either!
For some ideas on how and why you should choose organics read this article Why Organic Matters.
The bottom line is, going green is a vital choice for ALL of us. Today, when we can virtually see the impact of global warming and climate change, it is no longer an option we have, it is a move we need to make together if we are to have a fighting chance to save our planet.
Granted, it can be daunting to get started and easy to give up. And that’s why, it is essential to aim for short distances and keep the end goal in mind.
Small, meaningful changes made over time are the key to becoming a greener, eco-conscious citizen of the world and remember, you are not competing
against anyone here. Your only challenger is you.
Article Written by Guest Writer Karishma Gaur who likes cats, books and soda pop, but one of these things is not like the other two. She teaches English and writes to earn and then spends it all lavishly sponsoring rescue kittens, shelters and her own coterie of feline munchkins. Her current favourite thing to do is to live green, clean and very lean. (Well, not as lean as she’d like but she picks her battles). You can find her arbitrary collection of thoughts and cat selfies over at gnarlienerd (Instagram) | gnarlynerd.wordpress.com (blog) | @karrietweets (twitter) Read more of Karishma's articles at The OM Collective here >>>