Where To Start – 3 Simple Steps To Going Green

There are three easy steps to making yourself green. These are not the only steps, you can read our 100 Ways To Save The Planet post for that, and not massive steps either, but these are the three ways to start you on the road to becoming a green person – reduce, reuse and recycle.

Step 1: Reduce

Reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ you use is the first and most important step to being green. As Life Goggles’ recycling expert said: “While it’s better to recycle than throw away, it’s best not to use something at all.”

But was does that mean in a practical sense? Simply it means not wasting things and deciding whether you actually need something in the first place.

So where to start? Wastage can be anything from putting too much water in the kettle using more energy and more water than you needed, leaving your phone plugged in when it’s fully charged, or leaving lights on. It’s also about walking to the shops rather than using petrol and damaging the environment in your car or carrying than newspaper and bottle of coke home in your hand rather than using another plastic bag.

These days it’s all about packaging that you end up throwing away. Even if your pears are packaged in biodegradable plastic and a cardboard tray – do you really need them? Just put them loose into your basket, not much harm will come to them. Fruit like bananas especially don’t need a bag to go in – they already have a protective skin on. Do you need the microwave plugged in all the time or can you do without a bath every night and take a shower.

If you don’t use it, then you don’t need to reuse it and then you don’t need to recycle it.

Step 2: Reuse

Obviously you do have to use some things, so reusing them is still better than recycling – that takes a lot of energy and effort. To use an example from above, most people can’t go without taking a shower every day. But that water doesn’t have to go to waste. If you use natural products to clean yourself you can fill up the watering can or the dishbowl while you’re in there. Sound ridiculous? People who have a water meter certainly notice the difference – cheaper bills.

Some people go by the mantra – everything can be used three times. A worn out bed sheet can be converted to pillow cases and then can be used a scrap cloths before they are finally thrown away.

Everyone seems to be banging on about plastic bags and quite rightly. If you can refuse to have one, great, but if you have to have one, use one from the last shop you did or use a organic cotton bag or even using one of the many ‘bags for life’ is better than nothing.

However, reusing is about more than plastic bags. It’s reusing everything and anything – you can even ‘reuse’ food waste by composting it.

But sometimes you won’t even think of reusing certain things – what do you do with old half tins of paint, useless spectacles or old cassette tapes? Even if you can’t reuse something, someone else can. There are ways to reuse a lot of things, especially environmentally unfriendly items that are hard to dispose of. Take a look around Life Goggles for more ideas.

Reusing is the ultimate, pain free recycling.

Step 3: Recycle

When you’ve cut back all you can, reused everything possible and are finally still left with something to go in the bin, it might be able to be recycled. While recycling takes a lot of energy, it’s a lot less than to produce another one of the things you’re about to throw away. An aluminium can for example takes 80% less energy to recycle than to make a brand new one.

The obvious things that can be recycled are glass, aluminium and paper/card – if you do it at home and the office it can make a difference. Plastic can also be recycled, you’ll just need to check which types your council can do.

And even more awkward things can be recycled. For example Tetra-Paks – such as those orange juice cartons that are cardboard with aluminium inside and a plastic lid- can be recycled now, check here for details.

It can take a little effort, but it’s possible to get your rubbish bin to miss you as you throw less and less away. But what’s next?

Step 4: …

Yep, there’s a step 4 and 5 and 6 and so on. Once you’ve got the green bug, there’s no stopping you. You’ll find you start spreading the word to others, ringing up the council, organising collections and getting kids involved. In fact it’s they’re future you’re trying to help, maybe they’ll be getting you involved!

So make a start, have a look around Life Goggles and if you can’t find what you want, ask us, we’re nice people. Honest. You could read our very popular 100 quick and easy ways to save the planet. If you have less time, try our top 10 tips to reduce your carbon footprint.

14 thoughts on “Where To Start – 3 Simple Steps To Going Green

  1. Evolved into the 4 R’s – don’t forgot “Rot”. When you begin to take your food scraps/waste out of the trash stream and into a compost pile you will notice a huge decrease in your weekly trash p/u at the curbside. If you don’t have an area outside of your home to design a compost pile and ways to use the end product – organic material then encourage your municipal waste hauler/trash company to begin a pilot program. It is different from your “green waste” p/u which is designed only for yard waste and not food waste. Next step is to demand that all the flexible packaging and plastic wrappers be made from compostable materials. It is already being done, I should know, I make it out of renewable resource. Happy Green Thumbs to all
    GiG

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  2. “Compostable” plastic is a lie, rather like supermarkets offering “free range” chicken (it isn’t). There are two kinds of composting plastics, those made from cornstarch, and those made from PLA (polylactic acid).
    The starch based plastics do return some nutrients to the composting cycle, but PLA returns water and air — no usable nutrients at all. Commercial composters in our area don’t like to take them. And of course you lose all the energy that went into making them with no return.
    Plastic can be (and OFTEN isn’t) recycled, with as much as 30% post consumer waste going back into manufactured goods. Best idea is still REDUCE: just say no to plastic!

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  3. I certainly agree that the 3 R’s are the place to start…and I try to do my part as much as I can but it would be great if more businesses would jump on the packaging reduction bandwagon…and stop it at this level first…

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  4. I’m going to print that out on my computer and post it on my refrigerator so that it really starts to be in my everyday way of life.

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  5. What really irritates me is councils who tell you to recycle but don’t allow you to recycle everything that can be recycled – our current 2 weekly collection of recycleable stuff is: Garden waste, aerosols, paper, tin, foil, glass – yet there is so much more that can be recycled – unfortunately we have no car so can’t get to the big recycling centres!

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  6. Hi Chantal. I always find it annoying as well, it’s a shame some places aren’t set up to recycle certain products. My parents have to remove the windows from windowed envelopes! Broken furniture is a problem my garage is having at the moment…

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  7. Great tips, i totally agree with you. It may not be easy to lower our consumption, but there is no reason not to “reuse” and “recycle”. Once we’re done with that, it’s time to “reduce”! Like myself, i eat a lot of meat (fish, chicken) and i’m trying to switch to more vegetable, as it takes a lot less resources to grow. I love your website. It may not be easy at first, but if we all change one small thing after visiting your website, it’s one step closer to victory!

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  8. Check out this Green Home Show promoting awareness to the Green Movement Coming next year to TV, looks good.

    It is produced by Carbon America.

    Carbon America intends to promote awareness of the world’s green movement and America’s carbon footprint reduction. Their strategies is to show America and the world how being green can be affordable and the return on investment to the planet and our pockets can be sizable. Their intention is to help the global environment by appealing to the general public through the mass media. Specifically, by capitalizing on “Green Game Shows” and “Green Reality Show” trends.

    The Show is called “America’s Gone Green” along with two spins off shows “Green Improvements” and “Green Seeding”

    “America’s Gone Green”
    The Game format is as follows.
    The purpose of game show is for America to determine which contestants home is the greenest and has the smallest carbon foot print while retaining mass market appeal or “green sex appeal”. Once the home has been qualified contestants receive cash to improve on their homes and carbon footprint and compete with other qualifying round winners.
    The format will be similar to other shows consisting of Subject Matter Experts (SME) as panel judges intermixed with celebrities or other notable figures that are currently identified with the “Green” movement. These SME judges could include professionals and members of organizations such as LEED, Green Building Council, and Energy Star.
    The final winner will receive a lump sum cash prize donation for to their favorite Green organization.
    The process will consist of qualifying rounds and a final round elimination. Outlined below are the proposed recommendations for each round.

    Check out the rest of the Game info at http://www.carbonamerica.net

    Looks great, I think these guys got the right ideas appealing to the mass media, what do you think?

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