15 Simple Ways to go Green that Anyone Can Do
Going green. It’s a trendy phrase, isn’t it? It sounds nice to say that you’re going to try to be more green. But what does that really mean? I mean, what tangible changes do you have to make in order to be “green”?
In our family, we’re striving to rid our lives of processed foods and heavy chemicals. We stay away from artificial dyes, flavoring and sweeteners.
It may be simple to make that our goal, but it’s difficult in practice. We’re learning new things every day in our journey to a greener life.
Here’s 15 simple ways to go green that we’ve learned in our journey.
1. Budget for it
From the start, know that it’s going to cost more in both time and money to live a healthier life. Sure, there’s ways you can make changes on a limited budget, but the truth is, it’s simply more expensive to buy products that use sources that are more natural.
I had some sticker shock the first time I did a 100% organic shopping trip. It took some time to adjust to prices, but I did it knowing how much better it was for my and my family’s health.
It’s also going to take you more time. Buying whole foods usually means that you’re the one that going to be doing the prep for dinner. Chef Boyardee doesn’t cut it anymore.
2. If you couldn’t grow it, don’t eat it
So I like this one. It’s a cool concept that makes it a lot easier mentally to figure out what’s potentially healthful or not.
If you can’t hypothetically grow the ingredients on the back on the box, don’t buy it.Food truth: If you can't hypothetically grow what's on the ingredient list, don't buy it. Click To Tweet
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could grow butylated hydroxyanisole, Red No. 40, or potassium sorbate.
If it has to be made in a lab, I don’t want to eat it.
3. Eat organic
Buying organic provides a long list of benefits. Organic foods aren’t treated with pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones or antibiotics. That alone keeps a lot of toxins out of your body.
On top of that, foods stamped USDA Organic are certified non-GMO. This was something I learned when we first started making the switch to organic. I had no idea that in order to be USDA Organic it also has to be non-GMO, but it does.
Organic crops also promote better farming practices and numerous studies suggest that they are outright more nutritious for you.
4. Eat grassfed
Eating organic is great, especially for vegetables and grains; however, when it comes to protein you want more than organic. You want grassfed. Why?
Grassfed animal products – beef, eggs, etc. contain much better ratios of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats. Your body needs somewhere around a 4:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats.
The typical western diet is closer to 15:1. Research shows that anything above 10:1 has adverse effects, promoting “the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”
Grassfed beef, in particular, is drastically different from it’s grain fed counterpart. This study found that the average omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in grassfed beef was 1.5:1 compared to 7.6:1 in grain fed beef. One sample in the study was as high as 13.6:1.
Grassfed is drastically different and has a significant impact on your health. (I also happen to think that it tastes better…)
5. Read the back of the box
When you go grocery shopping, do you read the ingredient list of the foods you buy? You should.
The food standards in the U.S. are far lower than most other developed countries. Did you know that your food probably contains substances that are banned on other countries?
This goes hand in hand with #2. You need to read the back of the box of the foods that you buy. If you can’t pronounce it or you can’t grow it, then you shouldn’t be eating it.
When I started doing this, it made grocery trips take so much longer. (Be warned!) What really helped, though, is shopping at stores that primarily carry organic, non-GMO or local products – Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, etc. There’s far fewer offending products and most have much shorter ingredient lists to read.
6. Find little treats for the hard days
I don’t know about you, but I’m a stress eater. When I have a hard day, I just want to sit down with some bad for you food and eat my feelings. 🙂
This is doubly difficult for me having to spend the extra energy on making good conscious choices about the food that’s in our house and the extra planning, shopping and prepping that goes along with it.
I can’t tell you how many times I just want to go get a pizza after hours of shopping and meal prep.
You need little treats that still hit that special spot, but don’t ruin your hard work. One of those things for me is ice cream. Our Natural Grocers carries Three Twins Ice Cream, which is USDA Organic.
It’s good stuff. Here’s the ingredient list for one of my favorite flavors, Bittersweet Chocolate:
Organic milk, organic cream, organic fair trade certified cane sugar, organic fair trade certified cocoa powder processed with alkali, organic egg yolks, organic nonfat milk, organic fair trade certified vanilla extract.
The WOW Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty awesome as well. It’s a sweet treat that makes those tough days a little easier.
7. Make your own laundry soap
Living green isn’t just about what you eat. It’s about the chemicals in your home, especially those that end up on your skin.
Studies have shown that many laundry detergents and fabric softeners contain toxic chemicals. If you somehow avoid inhaling these, the fabric that was just soaked in these chemicals is now rubbing against your skin.
These chemicals include:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate)
It’s scary stuff.
8. Find alternative cleaning products
The cabinet under your sink is probably home to some scary stuff. Many household cleaning products are far more hazardous than the average laundry detergent.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that household cleaning products account for 10.4% of all exposures. 2013 was better than average with household cleaners accounting for only 7.6% of cases; however, that was still 196,183 exposures. 113,872 of these were children 5 years or younger.
9. Make your own toothpaste and deodorant
On the subject of the chemicals hiding in everyday products, personal care products are some of the worst. That’s not to say that your toothpaste is worse than Comet, but Comet wasn’t designed to go in your mouth.
Personal care products can be a big source of the toxins your body has to fight simply because you’re ingesting them or rubbing them directly on your skin.
Some deodorant brands contain triclosan as well. Many deodorants contain parabens and aluminium, which is suspected by some researchers to be a contributor to breast cancer. Even if there isn’t conclusive research on the topic yet, the fact of the matter is you’re still putting synthetic chemicals on your skin that haven’t been conclusively proven safe.
10. Switch up your razor
Green living is also about reducing waste. Now, I’m guilty of throwing out a lot of stuff that could probably be reused, but I try to find small areas I can focus on to get better at this.
One of these is my razor.
If you use disposable razors, you probably know that you’re throwing money out the window. Razor blades are expensive.
Did you know that there are some really good alternatives out there that are way less wasteful?
Two of the best alternatives are safety razors and straight razors.
A basic safety razor is no more expensive than a pack of name-brand razor blades. It feels great in your hand and uses razor blades that cost pennies. These work great for men and women. In fact, I’ve heard women say that a safety razor practically eliminated razor bumps and irritation.
If you want to take it a step further, you can go for a straight razor like your grandpa may have used. I, personally, would love one of these, but they’re a bit pricey.
Straight razors are $250 up to basically as much as you want to pay, but they’re designed to last for decades if well cared for.
11. Replace your moisturizer with coconut oil
The cosmetics industry is, for the most part, unregulated. These companies can put practically anything in the products you’re putting on your face and skin with essentially no oversight.
Some of the substances used on cosmetics are unbelievable including coal tar, parabens, phthalates, silicone-derived emollients, and more. The products you’re putting on your skin may contain known carcinogens, skin irritants, and hormone disruptors.
There’s a reason that many countries around the world bans many of the substances that can be found in commercial beauty products.
Either use a high-quality moisturizer that you’ve fully researched or a natural emollient like coconut oil.
I shave my head and the skin gets really dry. I tried all sorts of lotions and always had problems.
When I switched to coconut oil, my skin looked great.
It absorbs quickly, works great and I feel great knowing that weird substances aren’t being absorbed by my skin.
12. Replace your bug sprays
The vast majority of insect repellants on the market contain DEET, which studies have found “causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use.”
While the EPA just recently completed a re-review of the chemical and determined it to be safe, their guidelines read like they were intended for a much more hazardous chemical – don’t apply over cuts or irritated skin, don’t apply to the hands of young children, don’t use under clothing, wash treated skin with soap and water after coming indoors, and more.
This is especially concerning considering how frequently it’s used on kids.
There are a number of DEET alternatives on the market or you can make your own (which is what we do with carrot seed oil, raspberry seed oil and coconut oil.)
13. Educate yourself
This is the reason that I started this site. I’ve learned a lot as we’ve made this journey ourselves and I want to use that information to help others.
When I talk to people about our lifestyle, most look at me like I have two heads. It’s weird to most people because most people don’t understand how big of an impact the chemicals, processed foods, and medications have on our health.
The only one responsible for your health is you. You can’t rely on someone else to make the decisions for you.The only one responsible for your health is you. You can't rely on someone else to decide. Click To Tweet
You have to educate yourself so that you can make the best choices possible for you and your family.
14. Take on meal planning and food prep
When you decide to start eating more organic and fewer processed foods, you’ll quickly find that quick meal options are far more limited.
It’s not impossible to find meals that can be prepared quickly, but if you’re anything like my family, you’re going to find yourself cooking a heck of a lot more.
It can be overwhelming to figure out dinner each night, but if you put together a solid meal plan each week and do meal prep ahead of time, it will revolutionize your life.
We’re not perfect at it, but we try to do all of our planning, shopping and meal prep on the weekend. During the week, most of our veggies are chopped, protein is already marinated, casseroles are already made.
It makes it so much easier to stick to the next point.
15. Don’t cheat!
Making the transition to green isn’t a fad. It’s not a short-term diet. It’s a lifestyle change.
Know that the first few weeks are the hardest.
First of all, there’s a detox period. You will face withdraw symptoms. You’ll probably have headaches, you may experience sinus issues, and you’ll probably feel sluggish.
It’s normal. Don’t give up.
Once you get through a few days of this, you’ll feel better than ever.
Want to go green? You can totally do it, but it’s not an overnight change. Our lives our inundated with toxins, chemicals and outright unhealthiness.
It’s going to take time to transition.
Pick one or two areas of your life at a time. Start by switching to organic produce or replace one cleaning product with a natural alternative.
Over time, move on to other areas of your life. You’ll build habits. It will become more normal. Eventually, you’ll find yourself making better choices unconsciously.
Looking back now, I don’t see how we used to live the way we did. I can say that now because our perspective has changed, which happened slowly as we gradually changed the way we live.
Did you find any of these 15 simple ways to go green helpful? Share your experience below.