Living “green” does not have to be difficult and hard

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Living a green and eco-friendly life does in no way have to be difficult and hard and a chore. Most things to do are simple and even common sense and not only because you do something for the environment when doing them; in fact often you also save money.

While it may feel like you need a major lifestyle change to get down to living an eco-friendly life, the truth is that already with a few simple changes, you can live green with no inconvenience – and even save some money while doing so.

The trick is to start small.

Do not attempt to reinvent the wheel, it does not work and it has already been invented. Instead just make a few simple changes in your routine and go from there. Then, before you know it, you will be living green.

Often we hear the term “carbon footprint” but that, in my view, is a load of you know what. What we should call it is “environmental footprint” for we have much more impact on the environment around us and all over the planet than just as regards to any so-called carbon emissions.


Conservation of water is one of the most important things to do as we are running out of the drinkable stuff at an alarming rate. And why is this so when we are surrounded by water? Because too much water is used for uses other that drinking and such. Think of it; when you flush the toilet you pour several gallons of good water down the drain, literally. And that's just for starters.

A simple first step is to start turning off the tap when you are brushing your teeth. I can never understand why anyone would need to have the tap running when brushing teeth. Take a tumbler for water with which to rinse out. Simple as that.

When you take a bath, which is a waste of water really and also not all that good soaking in one's own filth, resist the urge to fill the tub to brimming. While a long, hot soak may be a nice treat, is it really necessary to have all of that water if you’re getting in and out in a hurry?

Ideally take a shower and it does not even need to be separate from the tub. Even one of those things that fit on the taps does well enough and with a four or five minute shower you use much less water than with a bath. If you can consider buying a water-efficient shower head.

If you have to use a dishwasher hen do make sure the dishwasher is full before you run it, or better yet, wash those few dishes by hand. And don't rush to flush if it is only a pee.


Little things that cost nothing and save loads include:

  • Lowering your water heater to 120 degrees F

  • Washing your clothes in cold water – it works and is far better for the fabrics

  • Lowering the thermostat during winter

  • Giving your dryer a rest in warmer weather and line-drying your clothes

  • Open windows and doors for a draft in hot weather is better than runn the AC

Other low-cost ideas include: insulating your water heater, attic, and HVAC ducts; installing a programmable thermostat; and ensuring your home is properly sealed against large air leaks.

And, most important of all, turn off anything that is not in use, from lights in rooms where there is no one at the time, to appliances. When you leave a room get into the routine to turn off the lights. It is really simple and not rocket science at all.

Travel and Commuting

Depending upon where you live, commuting “green” may seem one of the more difficult things for you to embrace. But there are alternatives you can at least consider. Check out your local public transport system and see if there is a feasible option to driving to work every day.

While taking the bus or train may seem unpleasant at first, if you have been used to driving all the time, you may find that the time spent reading, listening to music, or just watching the scenery during your commute puts you at work more relaxed than if you had driven. I like buses or trains simply because of the fact that I can get reading done or drafting some articles and such. At times it is quite nice to also do just nothing and watch the scenery.

Consider car-pooling. This can be an option for going to work, if you have colleagues living around you, but if not then think about getting together with neighbours for shopping trips or play dates to the park. Think about walking instead of driving; taking a bicycle (what you mean you haven't got one... get one); and also selecting vacation spots a bit closer to home, and the best vacation spot, in my opinion, is home. Do the staycation bit; but that is another story.

Another viable option, even though you may think “oh no!”, is cycling to work – as long as the distances are not too prohibitively far. I used to work on the bike, so to speak, for many years, being a travelling knifegrinder to the catering trade and did about a 1,000 miles per months. Kept me fit and lean. Now, alas, I am that no longer, but I still go everywhere by bike (or public transport).


Probably one of the easiest ways to live green is to become aware of waste. How much of what you throw away can be recycled or reused? With most neighbourhoods offering recycling programs, there is really little excuse to not participate. Donate unwanted items to charity stores; find out what stores participate in e-waste recycling programs and get rid of old electronics that way; return iPods and cell phones to the manufacturer for use as parts. There are some companies even that buy used electronic devices and recycle them.

Stop to think with every item of supposed waste as to whether it is not reusable or whether it can be upcycled in one way of the other for use by yourself, by your kids, or other people, and even for sale at markets or via the Internet. I do that all the time. Upcycling waste can be a nice hobby and even a nice little earner.

I stop basically with every piece of trash and think “what can I make from this?”. It becomes absolute routine after a while though I would like to issue a warning here: It becomes also addictive.

The same happens when I am out and about and I find something lost or thrown. Always the thought as to what it can be used for. That simply aside from the fact that some lost items happen to be the likes of woolly hats and such which, obviously, can be used for what they are.

Orphaned socks, such as baby ones, that are frequently found laying about and the same for baby and toddler mitts upcycle well into a variety of things, best though as cell phone socks. Why buy one when I can have one for nothing?

Those here are just a few of the many simple ways that you can live a greener life with no real effort and hassle. Think about it.

It really is quite easy being green.

© 2009