This week, Yes! Magazine is hosting a fantastic challenge for readers worldwide called No Impact Week — a “carbon cleanse” in which participants abstain from creating ANY waste. Almost anyone who acknowledges that climate change is real and our environment is important knows that going green requires way more action than simply changing light bulbs and recycling, but many struggle with what feels like a total lifestyle overhaul to truly live sustainably. Whether you pledge to make the No Impact pact this week or just want to make small changes, we want to show you how easy it can be to take small steps towards sustainability without a whole lot of effort, time, or even money. Here are just 5, to start!
1. Don’t chuck it, get a bucket! Does your shower take a couple of minutes to warm up? Don’t let all of that perfectly clean, usable water go to waste — drop a clean bucket in the shower to collect what would otherwise go down the drain until you’re ready to hop in. You can use this water for everything from washing dishes to watering the lawn/garden/house plants later.
2. Go classy with cloth. Paper towels, napkins and tissues enjoy a short lifespan, often getting used for just a single spill, sneeze, or hand wipe. Fashion your home with colorful fabric napkins, towels, and handkerchiefs that can be used and re-used, for a double bonus of both style and savings. Check out this DIY guide from Green Living Ideas to making your own reusable cleaning wipes and never worry about the cost of paper towels again!
3. Volcano your home! Well, ok, not exactly, but the two ingredients used to create a homemade volcano, baking soda and vinegar, make for fantastic cleaning products, and if you buy in bulk, you can save heaps of money, not to mention trips to the recycling bin. Add a little lemon juice to your non-toxic cleaning kit, and never again worry about giving yourself an asthma attack from harmful bleach fumes. Even Martha Stuart approves of this natural approach to cleanliness, and you can literally clean, well, just about everything with these 3 simple, cheap, and all-natural ingredients.
4. Just Say No to Junkmail.Â The only way I could ever see junkmail being somewhat useful is if they printed it on toilet paper, and yet, according to Earthshare.org, more than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce what goes directly into most people’s recycling bins or compost. The eco-smart folks at 41pounds.org have created an easy solution for cutting down on the junk pile that literally takes minutes to set up. Just fill out a quick form, and for $41 (with more than a third of that money going directly to the participating charity of your choice), 41 Pounds protects every adult in your household from unwanted ads and catologs for 5 years! That’s 1,825 days of junk-free mail for less than a quarter of a penny a day.
5. Produce, socially. Food share programs are popping up all over the US as a fun and sustainable way to stock kitchen cupboards with a variety of foods for the price of only growing and/or preparing one or a few. Take Transition Town, for example, which at least 3 NAB staff members, including our Associate Publisher Doug Reil, have found to be a great way to get their hands on FREE produce while unloading excess crops from their own gardens, while socializing with like-minded folks and creating a supportive, carbon-light community. No money changes hands in food shares, and in most cases, everything exchanged is organic. Hear Doug Reil talk about his work with Transition Town Albany and Albany Edible Initiatives on KPFA’s “Living Room” with guest host Veronica Faisant. He’s even teaching a class on pickling this Sunday!
by Marcus Fairs
Innovation in sustainable design has grown exponentially in the last decade as demand for greener products and architecture increases worldwide. Dezeen.com‘s editor and award-winning journalist Marcus Fairs helps readers understand the shift of green design from marginal to mainstream by featuring products and buildings that address immediate concerns about global warming and environmental degradation. Through vast architectural projects to modest one-off pieces of salvaged furniture, the book shows how the design world is responding to the environmental challenges of this century. Fairs covers emerging trends in green design, from upcycling (reusing existing objects to create new products) to ethical sourcing (ensuring products come from sustainable sources). By presenting existing green innovations as well as visionary projects, Green Design paints a bright future in which technology and ethics merge for the benefit of people and the planet.