Going green can seem like a huge undertaking. It means changing habits and making different choices. That’s why we’ve put together this quick list of easy ways to be more green.
1. Use reusable containers
Move away from single-use bags and containers by bringing your own. Don’t have any yet? You’ll find a large selection of bags, jars, and other containers at the Co-op. Plus, for every container or bag you use, you’ll receive a 5¢ credit. Just remember to have your containers weighed at the registers before you fill ‘em. Make sure you also always have your bags by putting them in your car immediately after unpacking your groceries.
2. Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is great for your budget (buy just the amount you need, at the best prices) and for the environment, since there’s less packaging. Buying in bulk also allows you to experiment with new foods. Plus, you’ll find non-food items such as shampoo, dish soap, and cleaners. Remember to put your containers in your reusable bags after you clean them, so you have them to shop next time.
3. Compost your food waste
Composted organic matter makes a nutrient-rich soil amendment and it decreases the waste heading to landfills. You could just toss your bits and bobs in a pile in your yard, but a trash can will better contain the mess. No outdoor space? There are special containers available for indoor composting. Make sure to include browns (dead leaves and twigs), greens (food waste and yard clippings), and water in your compost to keep it actively decomposing. And stir often!
4. Make cleaning products
The beauty of making your own cleaning products is that you can control the ingredients. Plus, you skip having to deal with packaging when you reuse containers for your home cleansers. White vinegar and baking soda will clean just about everything. Make sure to label homemade cleaners and keep away from children.
5. Clean with cloth
Paper towels may be convenient, but they use a lot of resources. The Co-op carries a number of cleaning cloths, but used t-shirts also work. When you switch from paper to cloth, make sure that you have enough on hand to handle your daily messes. Miss the convenience of a paper towel roll? Wind up your cloth towels and stick them on your paper towel holder. Separate cloths from other laundry (a 5-gallon bucket works well). Add vinegar to your rinse water and use BioKleen Oxygen Bleach Plus to cut odor and stains.
6. Drink from a reusable bottle
Single-use plastic water bottles take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Plus, it takes 1,740 refills of a half-liter reusable water bottle to equal the cost of the water in one 99¢ single-use plastic water bottle. Consider buying an insulated bottle that works for cold and hot beverages. The Co-op carries reusable bottles from Klean Kanteen, Pura, Life Factory, and Kids Basix.
7. Eat local
A study by the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems found that conventionally distributed food produces 5 to 17 times more carbon dioxide than local or regional foods. Consider also that most local, value-added food comes in reusable or recyclable packaging. Look for the green local mark on price tags throughout the store to find foods grown or made within 100 miles of Ashland, Wisconsin.
8. Walk or bike
Besides skipping the use of fossil fuels, walking and biking are great forms of exercise. Backpacks and trailers or wagons work well for carrying things. As an incentive for bikers, we offer 10% off one item as part of our participation in the national Bicycle Benefits program.
9. Pack a lunch
Packing your lunch allows you to use up leftovers (saving both time and energy). Ditch the plastic wrap by snagging a Bee’s Wrap reusable beeswax food wrap. Lunch gear worth considering that’s availability at the Co-op: Wild Hollow Farm Snack & Lunch Bags , Klean Kanteen Food Canisters, and U Konserv Containers.
10. Recycle more and correctly
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that recycling and composting kept approximately 186 million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in 2013. The caveat is that lack of proper sorting has driven up recycling costs. Need a refresher on how to sort recyclables? Contact your waste company or visit the National Waste & Recycling Association website at www.wasterecycling.org. And before you chuck that chip bag in the trash, check to see if it can be recycled using Terracycle. This company works with many major food manufacturers to create specialty recyclable packaging. You can collect the waste at home and then ship it back to Terracycle. Learn more at www.terracycle.com.