Monday, October 27, 2008

Green is the new Black

A lot of people I know would like to start being more "green" and living a healthier lifestyle but aren't sure where to begin. I've done quite a bit of research on the theme of organic living in the last month or two and thought I'd share a few easy ways to adapt a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

First ask yourself why you want to explore this new domain: Do you want to create a healthier home for your family? Do you want to do your part to help the environment? Are you pregnant like me and paranoid about putting artificial chemicals into your body? Or do you just feel the need to be healthier in general? If your answer to any of these questions was yes, you are already moving in the right direction.

Once you realize your intention, then pick one are to make a change in (food, recycling, cleaning products, etc). If you try to change everything at once you may become overwhelmed, so think about where you think you could see the greatest impact, or where you'd like an immediate change, and start there. Once you've mastered that area, move on to another.

Let's begin with the first area that usually comes to people's minds: Food! A subject near and dear to all of us. When beginning to eat more organically, think about what you and your family eat the most of. Do you drink a lot of milk or eat a lot of cheese? Do you tend to consume meat every night? Or is the majority of your grocery bill spent on fruits and vegetables? Pick one of the above categories and begin buying organic.
With dairy and meat products you will be guaranteed products that have NO artificial growth hormones or antibiotics in them. With fruits and vegetables, you will know you are eating products that have not been treated with pesticides. If you need another place to start, here is the list of the "Dirty Dozen" as rated by the Environmental Working Group- those items that when tested are the dirtiest, chemically speaking, when they arrive to your local grocer: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.
For some good news, here are the cleanest items from the same study: onions, avocado, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mango, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya.
Here's a little snippet from The Daily Mail paper in the UK:

Next up: cleaning products. These are an easy switch. Continue to use the products you already have until they are gone, don't just pour them down the drain as another part of being "green" is not being wasteful. The chemicals in traditional cleaning products are not only dangerous for our systems but they also pollute the water once you wash then down the drain. Check out your local Target- they now carry full lines of Method, Seventh Generation, and Mrs. Meyers products, all of which are environmentally friendly. OR, for something a little different, mix half of a spray bottle with white distilled vinegar (distilled so it doesn't smell), water, and a few drops of lavendar oil or vanilla if you'd like a scent- this is a great all-purpose cleaner that keeps your countertops clean and your family healthy.

Recycle! This is such a no-brainer. If you don't have one already, call your trash service and ask them to bring you a recycling bin to your house. Keep a separate bin for recyclables (or just pile them by the door like me), and leave your bin out with your regular trash when the time comes. Common household items that can be recycled are magazines, mail (may need to shred), cereal and other food boxes, milk jugs, Coke cans, yogurt containers, etc etc...These items will be regenerated into something else instead of sitting in a landfill. Plus this is super easy.

Cotton products: This is still an up and coming (and widely under-publicized) area of organic living. Many people don't know that on average it takes 1/3 of a pound of pesticides to produce one t-shirt! ONE! Cotton is by far one of the most sprayed crops out there, and while you aren't affected by using regular cotton, we could avoid a great deal of pesticides ending up in our soil and water supply if we used alternate or organic fibers. You may have noticed an increase in items in the market place that are bamboo or beech cotton- these are two sources of cotton that essentially replenish themselves within days of being cut down, therefore they are a completely renewable resource. Plus, they aren't treated with pesticides. And let me tell you- they are SOFT and fully comparable in price. I have a bamboo cotton blanket from Pottery Barn that is one of my top 10 favorite posessions, and am asking for a set of beech sheets for Christmas (found at Bed Bath and Beyond).
Also, here are some great organic dish towels I found this weekend at Williams & Sonoma:

This is certainly plenty of information for you to get a good start. In the coming weeks I'll explore ways to incorporate natural products into your beauty routine, tips on how to lower your electric bill, as well as some of my favorite products I've found since beginning this journey :)

1 comment:

Kristin said...

You're so green. :) I freaking love my Mrs. Meyer's lemon verbena stuff. Smells delish!

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