In recent years, the specter of global warming and the dwindling supply of oil and other natural resources have brought environmental issues to the forefront of politics and public awareness.
Millions of people have begun to assess their ecological footprint—the impact that each person makes on the environment.
What Does It Mean to “Go Green”?
“Going green” refers to the process of making deliberate decisions to lighten your ecological footprint. Deciding to recycle your paper and buy energy-efficient appliances are just two examples of ways to make your life “greener,” or more environmentally friendly. You can go green by overhauling your entire daily routine or by changing just a few small aspects of your life.
The Meaning of Green and Greening
The term green has come to refer to almost anything that places a high priority on environmental concerns. For instance, “green building codes” require home builders to follow environmentally friendly rules regarding the materials and methods uses to build homes. “Green” is also used as a verb to describe the process of going green. For instance, the phrase “greening your cleaning” refers to the process of making your household cleaning chores more environmentally friendly.
Why Should You Go Green?
There are many reasons why going green makes sense for everyone:
- Conserve natural resources: Resource problems that humans have helped create, such as vanishing woodlands and diminishing oil supplies, can be solved only by making a deliberate effort to curb the use of products derived from natural resources, such as paper and gas. Making resource conservation a top priority in your daily decisions is a key part of going green.
- Reduce carbon emissions: The carbon dioxide (CO2) that humans emit into the atmosphere—primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil—has been linked to various dire environmental problems, from acid rain to global warming. By going green, you can reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere as a result of your daily routine.
- Improve health: Your well-being is almost certain to improve once you go green. For starters, you’ll eat food grown without pesticides, and the personal care products that you use will contain only natural, Earth-friendly ingredients.
- Save money: Going green can save you money in countless ways, such as by lowering your energy bills, cutting commuting costs, and reducing the amount that you spend on household cleaning products and other everyday supplies. Since going green has the potential to improve your physical well-being, you may even spend less on healthcare.
What It Takes to Go Green
Whether you intend to make all of your daily decisions more environmentally friendly or you’re just looking to green one aspect of your life, the process entails three main steps: awareness, education, and action.
The first step toward going green is understanding that your individual actions do have a global impact. Though your decision to recycle or bike to work might seem insignificant in itself, when millions of people worldwide also make green decisions, the environment can benefit tremendously.
Once you’re aware of the implications of your daily decisions, you need to learn how to make environmentally friendly changes to various parts of your life. This guide shows you how to green the following key parts of life:
- Coffee and tea
Rather than try to green all of these at once, it’s best to start by greening the parts of your life that will have the most significant positive impact on the environment. Which categories you choose will depend on your personal situation.
For example, if you drive a long distance alone to get to work, you might prioritize greening your commute first and foremost.
If you live in a sunny climate, you might first look into ways to use solar power to green your electricity usage. Once you’ve decided which categories you’d like to focus on first, refer to the section on each specific category in this guide for suggestions on how to green each one.
Once you’ve learned how to green the parts of your life that you’d like to change, you have to take action to implement those changes.
Doing so requires commitment and, in some cases, up-front expense. For instance, if you decide to start composting, you’ll need to buy a composting bin and remember to separate your food waste from the rest of your trash every time you throw things away.
Once you’ve taken actions like these, you’ll need to follow through by avoiding the tendency to fall back on old habits.
Though the greening process often involves ongoing expenditures of time and money, these expenses tend to pay for themselves in the long run, both in terms of financial savings and in the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing you’ve taken deliberate steps to help the environment.