We do everything we can to treat our environment with respect at the Unity Spiritual Center, at home and when we're making choices about what we do and how we do it.
Below are some suggestions on how to reduce the "footprint" or environmental impact of our activities. Let us know about your favorite methods to help our planet.
Avoid Takeout Containers - Say "no" to takeout food and bring your own containers for restaurant leftovers. (Skip the plastic bag, too!)
Stop Using Plastic Bags - One easy way to go a little greener is to have your reusable bags handy. If your locale doesn't have a plastic bag ban, talk to your local representative and see if you can get the city, county council or state legislature to implement one.
Reduce Your Use of Paper Towels - Yes, they're convenient. Yes, your family's messy. But it's easy to live without using so many paper towels. Instead of these perforated one-use paper sheets, start using your dish towels (sure, even the nice ones) to wipe up messes. Toss them in the wash and reuse them. Cut up old bath towels for extra-absorbent needs. If you want to get really crafty, add snaps onto a dozen or more washcloths and roll them up onto your old paper towel holder. (Also works with Velcro.)
Reusable Water Bottles - If you have a shelf full of water bottles, make a commitment to use them. Start using the water bottles you have, recycling or passing along any that you know you won't use.
Give Up the Straw - Yes, we have the right to drink from a straw. And yet, if you don't need one in order to sip from a glass, stop using them. Just like that. Make sure when you order beverages at a restaurant to request no straw, then remind them when they arrive at the table. (It's a habit). Encourage your mates to do the same. It's a very small step, but easy to do.
Use Green Cleaning Products - We might think we need to clean with products that strip grime, kill bacteria and leave everything smelling like bottled meadow. Cleaning products can be made of some toxic stuff and often yield the same results as quick cleaners you make yourself (minus the toxicity). Look into orange oil, castille soaps and all the things you can do with lemon and baking soda. Commit to not replacing your cleaning products with more bottles and sprays of stuff, and instead shift to more earth-friendly strategies.
Eliminate Food Waste - The production of food is a significant greenhouse gas emitter in the U.S. So, when you're throwing out food, you've warmed the planet for nothing. Make a choice that you're no longer going to throw out food and, instead, shop smarter, and find ways to incorporate leftovers into lunches or other meals.
Start Composting - Another way to take the guilt from (and reduce the environmental damage of) food waste is to start a compost. If you find that you often have wilting lettuce and kale in the fridge, tossing it into a compost bucket or worm farm is a great way to return it to the Earth rather than putting it in a landfill.
Buy Local Produce or Start a Garden - Even if you don't have a lot of space, you can start a garden on a windowsill, deck or sunny corner in the living room. Gardening reduces, one tomato at a time, the carbon emissions on your daily salads. While you're waiting for your Earth Day garden to produce, you can shop at a farmer's market or a grocery store that carries locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Repair Things - Small appliances, houseware, furniture, clothes and shoes can be so inexpensive that there's little financial incentive to repair them. Instead, most of us just replace them with new ones. But fixing is possible, even if you're not an electrician or super great with a needle and thread. Shoe- and leather-repair places still exist in most locales, and YouTube has videos on how to fix almost anything. You'll not only keep things out of the landfill, you also won't be purchasing something that's made from tons of plastic, has been shipped halfway across the world, then trucked all the way across the country. Plus, it's fun.
Go Electronic -Stop those unsolicited catalogues that show up in your mailbox. Even if you recycle all your junk mail, not having it created on your behalf in the first place has the better environmental impact. CatalogueChoice.org is a website where you can stop those unwanted catalogues. Just create a free account so they can help you keep track of which catalogues you've stopped and when. It is free and so easy to use! Of course they will appreciate a donation.
Turn Things Off - Being vigilant about turning the lights off in an empty room is great. But what about all the appliances and electronic goods that, even when not in use, drain electricity. "Phantom power" wastes electricity, and your money.
Eat Less Meat - Try out being a vegetarian or vegan, even for just the day. There are very inventive ways to reduce meat and animal products consumption. The way meat is produced in most of the world — no longer on small farms — has taken a toll on the Earth's health and climate. Meat production is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases.
Recycle (and Stop Buying So Many) Electronics - We live in an age where even our $1,000 phones are basically disposable. We expect them to be out of date in a few years. Lower-cost ones are even easier (and more common) to get rid of, rather than resell, refurbish or live without new and better features. Recycling electronic goods, called e-waste, is important. Precious metals are stripped and reused, and plastic casings are melted and converted into something else.
Shop Used - Clothes and fast fashion have hidden costs. Fabrics contain petroleum products. The carbon cost to make and ship them is steep, even if the price tags are low. Retail therapy can still be a guilty pleasure, but shopping used means you're not making the planet pay the price. Secondhand stores are filled with nice clothing, brand-new home goods and other things you may typically get at big box stores. Make Goodwill and similar shops your first stop when you think you need something.
Refuse (Then Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) - We are frequently given things that we haven't asked for. Straws with our drinks, napkins in a bag, packages that hold one serving of a fruit or vegetable, packets, tote bags, flyers, stickers, and more. Find ways to reduce packaging on necessities, which might mean shopping in bulk food stores. Recycling is great, of course, and we're lucky to have the option. Use those special recycling locations that take styrofoam, electronics, big pieces of cardboard, oil, etc. But declining things: That is at the start of the cycle.
Tell Grandparents: 'No More Toys' - We know that kids find more fun playing with the box that the toy came in.
Speak Out - Use your voice to effect change in our community and our world.
We can do this. And have fun at the same time.
Blessing to you all for all you do.