Collectively, small lifestyle changes can make a huge impact on the environment–and your life. Looking for happiness and health? What’s good for the environment is also, it turns out, great for you. Here’s a collection of tips from the No Impact community.
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Living in MN it is difficult to minimize impact over the winter months. But keeping the thermostat at 55 degrees is doable if you have enough blankets and get in the habit of wearing more clothes around the house.
Insulate windows in the winter. I use wool from my sheep and paper from my schoolwork. I also use plastic from window insulation kits. There is definitely a trade off here as I am using plastic. However, it really helps to seal off infiltration (saving on heating expense and emissions) and can be re-used every year (with occasional patching).
Two ideas. 1. By using a rocket stove one can burn scrap wood or sawdust to heat, cook and generate steam for many uses. It has won the creator many awards for the simple concept that doesn’t smoke. You can also use one of these in lieu of a barbie. 2. The methane tank produces a gas to cook or generate electricity. It can a small one for just a family or scaled up for larger uses.
I am an unschooling mom of four children (all cloth diapered & early potty trained.) We have always been both frugal & environmental. We do worm composting & recycling. We shop at farmer’s market and at our local grocery co-op. We eat–mostly–whole foods. We lived in a cooperative house for four years. But I recently read No Impact Man and felt I could do more. I want to show the world that just because there are more of us (family of 5) doesn’t mean we have to use more resources. I want to show that I can instill these values in my kids to help make the world a better place.
Here two things came together. Our love of art & my concern about garbage. I am currently saving our “clean” garbage that is not recyclable or compostable, I plan to make some paper mache (using local flour) and beginning a garbage sculpture. This is still in the early stages, but you can check out my progress (remember I have four kids, things progress slowly here) at my blog called Quixotic Mama (www.yogapantsmama.com)
Most of what dog and cat food consists of, especially the dry stuff, is a hybrid corn. Corn is bad for the dog and cat. The corn industry uses a great deal of toxic and non-renewable resources from fuel to fertilizer, and from a plastic coated bag to a metal can for that corn to make its way to the shelf and food factories. My wife and I have been making our own dog food (which does not contain corn) for a few months now and it actually costs us less than buying regular dog food. The dogs like it seem to be healthier, we don’t have the extra trash from the dog food bags/cans and we can buy ALL of the ingredients (except the oats or rice) locally. its extra work, but very possible.
Buy less – instead of instantly going to buy something, make it a habit to sit with the idea for a day or two to see if you can live without it – always buy used first if you must buy.
Compost your food ‘trash’
Don’t use plastic bags of any kind
Use cloth napkins and kitchen towels – but only if you buy used
Stop using ‘wipes’ and disposable cloths of ALL kinds – fake fragrance, made of paper, contain chemicals, etc.
Stop using paper towels – carry a “personal towel” and/or cloth hankie like the Japanese do to use in public restrooms, etc.
Use (used) cloth handkerchiefs instead of tissues/Kleenex
Catch your letting-the-water-run-to-get-hot water and use it to water plants, drink, etc.
Use permaculture on your land/lot – to maximize the water on your property
Stop using plastic containers to store and carry food
Take your own (local) lunch instead of using carry out and take out containers from restaurants – save money too
Use natural essential oils for home and personal fragrance instead of “Glade” type fake scent, plastic containers, etc.- they come in recyclable, glass containers and don’t pollute the air or the land fill once empty
Put wadded up newspaper in the bottom of your trash can to absorb odors. They can still be composted in most cases if you are not putting food wastes in your trash
Stop using bleach – it kills ‘bad’ bacteria, but also the good ones too
Stop buying all those stupid, toxic, specialized cleaning liquids/chemicals for the home – you only need vinegar and baking soda or one natural, concentrated bottle of Dr. Bronner’s for the entire house and all types of cleaning – including bathing.
Go “no-poo” – the hair and scalp don’t need shampoo and sometimes not even conditioner – less chemicals on the planet, fewer plastic bottles. If you must have shampoo, buy the ones that are not in a bottle (search Etsy.com)
Stop buying new cars – even the so-called “energy efficient” ones are strip mining somewhere to get the metals to use in their construction
Use hemp and bamboo and/or recycled, one-use papers – eg: toilet paper
Recycle all your construction materials when renovating your home – fixtures, wood, tiles, etc.
Buy your home construction and fixture materials from the same type of place
Stop buying lotions, fancy face cleansers, etc. and use coconut oil for lip balm, moisturizer, face cleanser, etc.