10 Ways to be Green (Without Even Trying)

10 Ways to be Green (Without Even Trying)

Blog post by Laura
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Being green, or environmentally conscious, is fairly mainstream these days. For someone like me, who’s always considered herself eco-friendly, it just comes as second nature. But for some people, being green might be considered a hassle or just one more thing they have to worry about doing. However, it’s pretty easy to take steps in your daily routine that might lessen your impact on the planet. And who knows, you might be doing some of them already without realizing it!

  1. Shop and donate at Recycled Reads, the Library’s bookstore. Perhaps a shameless plug, but also one of the best kept secrets in town for booklovers. Whatever we can’t sell, we send to our recycling partners who try to sell or recycle the material. Nothing goes into the landfill.
  2. Reuse your bags! This is old hat to most Austinites due to the citywide plastic bag ban. Although sometimes we forget the bags in the car, this way of life is a big part of helping out the environment by reusing things we already have.
  3. Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle.  We’ve known for years that recycling is a better option than throwing things into the landfill, but the recycling process itself takes up a lot of energy. Remember the three R’s and follow them in order: Reduce your consumption, Reuse what you have, and if the first two aren’t possible, recycle the material.
  4. Use your library! I love the weight of a book in my hands, feeling the page between my thumb and forefinger as I near the end of one page and turn to the next. Unfortunately, printed books do take a toll on our natural resources. However, when you check out books from your library, you’re one of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people reading that one single book. Definitely a better solution than thousands of people each buying their own book and reading it once.
  5. Shop Local. This supports your community, because when you buy local, more of your money stays in the community, helping out you and your neighbors. When it comes to local food, buying at your farmer’s market helps out the planet because it took less fuel to get the food to the market than it takes to get it to a chain supermarket.
  6. Mix up your commute. I’m lucky enough to live within walking and biking distance of my job. If you’re not as blessed to live near work or a major bus line, this may be a challenge to do. Having young kids can throw a wrench in alternate commutes as well. If you can’t feasibly bus, bike, or walk it to work, explore your neighborhood on the weekend using these options and see what you discover. You miss out on a lot of amazing stuff when you’re shut inside a car.
  7. Get a plant. Even if you’re no master gardener, having a couple of potted plants around the house can have a considerable effect on the air quality of your home or office. Bonus for having outside plants that clean the air of your community.
  8. Fix It! We live in such a disposable, one use society nowadays. You get a tear in your clothing – might as well just buy something new, right? Why not try to learn how to fix it instead? The library has programs to help.
  9. Compost. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 20% of what goes into municipal landfills is food, which produces methane gas. What if we tried composting this food waste instead of tossing it into the trash? Even if you don’t have your own garden, you could donate it to your local community garden, or, if you live in a house in Austin, you may have curbside compost bins.
  10. DIY. Pick up a skill like carpentry, sewing, home canning – something that your grandparents might have known how to do. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll find yourself more empowered by mastering a new skill and proud of yourself for being that much more sustainable.