As more green products reach store shelves and information regarding eco-friendly lifestyles becomes increasingly prevalent, making sustainable choices is getting easier. Individuals who make this commitment often encourage local schools, businesses and even cities to re-evaluate daily routines to find ways to protect the planet, above and beyond government regulations. Taking steps to adopt green practices at home and at work can have positive ecological, economic, cultural and health impacts.
Conserves Natural Resources
Reducing water use, recycling waste and becoming more energy efficient are all simple, green actions that conserve natural resources. Shortening shower time by two minutes can conserve up to 700 gallons of water per month, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The EPA estimates that keeping one ton of paper out of the landfill by recycling and using it instead of virgin material saves 17 trees and up to 4,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Switching from traditional bulbs to LED bulbs can save up to 75 percent of energy use, the EPA's Energy Star program reports.
Protects Human Health
Greening the pantry, cleaning supply closet and garage can be a preventative measure for some health issues within the household. Pesticides have been linked to respiratory problems, neurological disorders, cancer and reproductive problems. Choosing organic produce can reduce exposure to these harmful substances. In addition, efforts to use environmentally-safe household cleaners and natural beauty and personal care products can also help. Natural products reduce the possibility of contact with the toxic substances found in standard products from these categories.
Many people think going green is expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Yes, buying organic produce can be more expensive than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, but growing a garden at home can reduce these costs. Conserving up to 700 gallons of water per month and saving 75 percent of energy use on lighting will also reduce utility bills. Other green actions such as carpooling, harvesting rain water for gardening and making cleaners with vinegar and baking soda can also reap financial rewards.
Added Bonus: Builds Community
Anyone can accept the challenge to make a difference by practicing environmental stewardship. Many green actions strengthen community ties. Carpooling, community gardens and volunteering for local environmental enhancement efforts all tend to bring people together for a common cause. Other opportunities to connect with and educate others on green principles can be built through online social networks and environmental blogs that can reach like-minded individuals across the globe.
- Santa Barbara County Green Business Program: Your Guide to a Greener Business: Office/Retail Checklist
- South Carolina Department of Natural Resources: How Many Gallons Can You Save?
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: WasteWise: Environmental Factoids
- Energy Star: Lighting: Get the Facts
- Natural Resources Defense Council: Benefits of Organic Food
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Green Homes: Protecting Your Health
- Sustainable Napa County: Community
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