I am actually getting a bit of pep in my step again now that the snow has officially melted…at least, for the moment *knock on wood*. The weather here in the Midwest has really reminded me of a fair ride. Not sure what the name of it is, but it’s that circle tunnel that kids adore in the madhouse – the one that turns and turns and every time you try to stand back up, it knocks you flat on your butt.
Yeah, that’s the weather in the Midwest there folks.
But when thinking with “the glass is half full” kind of attitude, I am excited to start thinking about ways I can enjoy this fresh new season while continuing to green things up even more! Here are 8 ways we can all jump on board, take action and make a difference!
Earth Hour: It’s coming! Earth hour is a world-wide event organized by WWF (World Wildlife Fun) and “is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change” (Wikipedia). At 8.30 PM on Saturday 26 March 2011, lights will be turned off around the globe for and we can all show our support for just one hour by turning OFF. Unplug, unwind and relax! This is a great way to create awareness with children too by sharing some quiet time with the family, talking about what they too can do to make a difference. For some fun interactive play – check out www.earthhourkids.org
Earth Day: After over forty years, Earth Day has become one of the most celebrated days of the year and this year, April 22nd, 2011 will continue to be a call to action to help our planet and raise awareness. Earth Day is the day when we can celebrate our planet, take time to appreciate the environment and raise awareness surrounding the issues that threaten it. I encourage you to find out about local events and get involved. The Earth Day Network is involved globally in many campaigns, educational programs and sponsorships and you can pledge an act of Green, and invite your friends to take part!
Hang your clothes outside: Your dryer is one of the biggest energy-suckers in your home! So now that the weather is getting nicer, save some money and the planet by hanging your clothes outside to dry! Let nature help you out on this one – it has so many benefits. If you do need/want to use your electric dryer, make sure to clean the lint trap regularly as this will really help with efficiency! According to the California Energy Commission, A dryer is typically the second-biggest electricity-using appliance after the refrigerator, costing about $85 to operate annually.
Clean Green: Dirty little dust bunnies have been seeking shelter in your home over the cold winter months as well – time to spruce things up and clean out! There are many “everyday” products being sold to us that can contain harmful chemicals – read labels, do your homework and stay informed. One of the best online resources to check for toxins in products and to get the inside scoop on safety is the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Cosmetics Safety Database. Know your products. I personally use and love Dr Bronner’s, EcoStoreUSA, Celadon Road and a few others but I also love it when I can make my own! Here’s my recipe for laundry soap and you can always use such natural ingredients as vinegar and lemons!
Paint Low-Voc: Who doesn’t love a nice coat of paint to freshen things up? Just remember that many of the products we use are the source for a substantial portion of indoor air pollution, including our paints. “Though conventional paints have gotten less toxic over the years, many still release some level of volatile organic compounds, or “VOCs,” into the air in the form of a breathable gas. According to the American Lung Association, VOCs can cause a number of physical problems, such as eye and skin irritation, as well as lung and kidney damage. The best practice is to use paint that is low in, or does not contain, VOCs and low- or no-VOC paint is a quality, cost-effective painting option that is safe for the environment and the homeowner” (HGTVpro).
Garage Sale/Donate: One of my most favoritest things about spring is the cleaning up and clearing out! Spring time to many reminds us of simplifying and sorting…starting fresh and new! It’s a great time to go through your belongings and decide what you love, like and dislike. You might think of this as three piles – but you will only be making two. Keep what you love and out the door with all the rest. Have a garage sale, donate or give as hand-me-downs to someone in need! It’s a great way to clear the clutter while doing something nice too.
Rain Barrel: Capture one of our greatest gifts from nature – pure lovely rainwater! Rain barrels are a great way to conserve resources while reducing the amount of well or municipal water we use. “Luckily, rainwater harvesting has gone mainstream, and it’s easy for homeowners to take advantage of recapturing “lost” water with a rain barrel. Your roof collects rainwater and funnels it through gutters or downspouts, where it can be collected. But be sure to leave room to provide easy access the spigot. When your plants need a drink, just use the water from the barrel instead of turning on the hose” (Earth911).
Lynn Stone is the founder of the go-to green living blog for parents, SmilingGreenMom.com. Lynn’s goal is to help others “be the best green they can be” through her affordable tips and encouraging posts. A contributing writer for multiple blogs and websites, Lynn enjoys cooking, garage sale shopping, traveling, relaxing with her family and dreams of owning an eco-friendly log cabin one day! As a former competitive swimmer, she values wellness and living an active lifestyle and hopes to one day participate in a triathlon. Follow her on Twitter, @SmilingGreenMom and Facebook.