I’m trying to live greener but I’m far from being the poster child for green living. I still occasionally use plastic bags. I sometimes forget to turn off lights when I leave a room. I’ve been known to buy a processed snack (or two).
I’m not perfect. If you spend any amount of time reading about all the things you should be doing if you want to be green, you’d realize just how badly I was failing our planet. But the truth is that you would have to spend a lot of money to do all those things the experts say you have to do to be “green.” You would have to get rid of every single piece of plastic in your home. You would have to get rid of anything that isn’t recyclable or reusable. No more non-stick pans or paper napkins. No more plastic food storage or store-bought laundry detergent.
And I while I don’t disagree that those things aren’t good for the environment, I’m not so quick as to toss all of them in the trash.
If you’ve already invested the money in the items and you’ve already been using it for months (or even years), then why toss them now? Why not let them live out their purpose? It seems to me that the damage to the planet has already been done based on those items’ very existence. To toss them in a landfill seems more wasteful and detrimental to the environment than to continue to use the items until they are no longer useful.
My strategy instead, is to gradually replace those items that aren’t good for the environment with more greener options as needed. For example, when my plastic food storage is stained and cracked, I’ll get rid of it and replace it with reusable glass containers. When my cookware wears out, I’ll replace it with more environmentally-friendly cookware. I won’t be tossing things into a landfill simply because they’re “not green.” I’ll be using them up and wearing them out first.
Another strategy to live greener is to simply buy less. I will choose not to replace many of my less green items. Instead, I’ll use a much smaller quantity of better quality items. Much of what I currently have was purchased (or given to me) in the rush of consumerism that comes with being a new bride and mother. If I’m not using those items, I can sell or donate them so they can be used by others who would appreciate them. I can reduce the amount of time needed to clean and care for items I’m not using. I can reduce the amount of space needed to store those items. I can put that energy to use on things I am truly invested in instead.
When people talk about living green, they also talk about sustainability. It is often talked about in terms of using renewable resources. But I think we should also consider what it will take for us to sustain our green habits, too. I want to live greener, but it has to be in a way that matches my values and works with the resources (both monetary and otherwise) I have available to me.
I keep coming back to the the best strategy for green living, and that is to stop and think. Stop and think before you buy. Stop and think before you use. Stop and think before you toss. It’s a less expensive way to go green.