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Setting Green Goals for the New Year

The following post is from Emily of Live Renewed:

setting green goals
source: Zach Dischner

In just a few short days we will be ringing in the New Year, and I’m sure that many of us are thinking about our resolutions and goals for 2011.  I really want to encourage you to think about setting some green goals for yourself and/or your family this year.

Making changes toward greener living doesn’t have to mean a complete overnight lifestyle change.  I am a huge advocate for making simple changes that don’t require too much thought or energy, as well as taking baby steps.  When you add a lot of small changes together over time, it will lead to bigger overall lifestyle change.

So, I want to give you some ideas and tips for making green changes in the upcoming year:

1. Decrease Disposables

Have you ever done a garbage inventory?  Do you know that Americans create an average of 4.6 lbs of trash per person per day? Set a goal this year of reducing the amount of waste your family creates and throws away.

Here are a few simple ways to start decreasing disposables in your home:

Use Kitchen Cloth. Instead of paper towels and paper napkins, use cloths for washing dishes, cleaning, wiping down little hands and faces after meals, and as napkins.  Our family has not purchased or used paper towels for more than a year and a half, and I can honestly say that I don’t miss them at all.

Use Rags and Wipes for Cleaning. Reuse old t-shirts, towels or receiving blankets for cleaning rags around the house.  Also, find alternatives to specialty disposable cleaning products like Swiffer mops and dusters.

Switch to Cloth Diapers and Wipes. If you have little ones at home, you know how much waste their diapers create.  Switching to cloth diapers, and cloth wipes, even part-time, is better for your wallet and better for the earth.

Reuse and Re-purpose Items. Before you place something in the trash or recycle bin, think about other ways that you could use that item.  Lots of thing make great craft supplies or containers for organizing.

Compost. I have to say, this one is on my list of green changes to make this next year.  Composting your food scraps instead of throwing them away is a great way to make a difference in the amount of waste your family creates.

2. Natural Homemade Household Cleaners

The air inside our homes can often be more polluted than the air outside.  This is partially due to toxic cleaning products that we use around our homes.  Make a resolution to switch all your cleaning products to natural, green and even homemade cleaners.

Use Vinegar and Baking Soda. These are my two favorite multipurpose cleaners. With a spray bottle of vinegar and water mixed 50/50, and a reused parmesan cheese container filled with baking soda, I can clean pretty much my entire house.

Make Your Own Multipurpose Cleaner. There are lots of different recipes out there for homemade multipurpose cleaner, but my favorite is simply water in a spray bottle with a few squirts of castille soap and a few drops of tea tree oil.  It smells great and works great for cleaning all around the house.

3. Personal Care Products

As shocking as it may be, the reality is that personal care products and cosmetics are not regulated or required to be tested for safety.  It is just as important to be aware of the products that we use on our bodies as it is to be careful of the kinds of foods that we eat.  Set a goal of switching over your personal care products to safe and natural alternatives over the coming year.

Check EWG’s Cosmetic Safety Database. Start by looking up products that you currently use on the cosmetic safety database which rates products for their safety based on their ingredients.  If your products get high scores, browse the database for alternative brand and products  with lower scores.  I like to make sure the products that me and my family use score below a four, on a scale of one to ten.

Get Rid of Antibacterial Products. Stop using antibacterial soap around your house and switch to hand soap that does not contain triclosan, or make your own foaming hand soap.

Use Natural Alternatives. I’ve mentioned before that I wear homemade deodorant, use the no ‘poo method for washing my hair, and I’ve been cleansing my face with the oil cleansing method for about a month now.  I love these natural and homemade alternatives to conventional products because they are inexpensive and have simplified my personal care routine.

Choose one (or all three!) of these areas to begin making small changes during the new year.  Start my making small, easily attainable goals, and then move on as you achieve your goals.

If you’re already doing all of these things, that is great!  I’d love to hear what your green goals are for the upcoming year, I always love to add new things to my “changes to make” list!

Two of my personal green goals for the new year are starting to composting and continuing to make changes to my personal care products. Join me at Live Renewed in January as we talk more about safe and natural personal care products, and I share all my green goals for 2011.

What green goals or resolutions are you making for the new year?

Emily McClements is passionate about living with compassion and caring for creation in a way that will impact the world. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.