1. COOK FROM FRESH
Our son has been staying with us for about a month and has recently become a vegetarian. We decided we would all eat vegetarian while he is here and this has caused me to reassess my cooking and eating habits. We have without doubt been eating healthier. The main reason for this is that I have been cooking more with fresh ingredients and not resorting to any pre packaged food.
Your health, your bank account and the environment will benefit from cooking fresh. The processes that processed food go through on the way from the farm to your table involve vast amounts of resources. The sad part is that by the time this food reaches us, the nutritional value is extremely poor. Flavors are enhanced, foods are over salted, sugars are in excess.
I have not yet decided whether we will give up meat completely, but I am now committed to eating less and only buying from stores such as Whole Foods that have strict guidelines that affect the quality and safety of the meat and poultry they offer. Cook in larger quantities so there is something left to freeze for the days when you are simply not up to cooking. Use this change as a way to rediscover food and the pleasure and great taste of home cooking.
2. HANG YOUR LAUNDRY TO DRY
If every American family used a clothesline or folding drier just once a week instead of the tumble dryer, the energy savings would be enormous. Yet compared with Europe, hanging clothes to dry is extremely unpopular in the US. In some cases, the reluctance can be traced to the rules and regulations of community associations and landlord managed properties that prohibit clothing being hung outside since it is considered unsightly. Certain states are now beginning to reassess the drying related energy impact of these rules. In colder climes where the heating is almost permanently on in winter, clothes would dry quickly on a rack indoors. Yet most Americans prefer laundry to stay out of sight.
Try and commit to using the dryer less. If this is simply not an option for you, make sure your laundry is well spun to remove excess water before putting it in the dryer. Believe it or not, washers are far less power hungry than dryers. Activate your dryer’s power sensor which automatically powers down the machine once the clothes are dry. Clean out the lint collector regularly to improve circulation.
3. CLEAN GREEN
You can expose yourself to toxic chemicals every day by simply cleaning house. Many substances that are contained in cleaning products can be absorbed by the skin and also give off toxic fumes that can be inhaled, not only by the person using the product, but by everyone else in the house. Everything from headaches and eczema to cancer have been associated with these chemical cleaners. Many such as air fresheners seem so innocuous, packaged in pretty containers with names like Ocean Breeze and Spring Forest.
Making your own cleaning products will save you money and protect your health. Green products contain very simple ingredients such as water, vinegar, baking soda, castile soap and a few drops of essential oils for fragrance. Try mixing your own in a spray bottle and see how it works. We have been a little brainwashed by advertisements to feel that we need to kill off every germ in our immediate vicinity. Maybe being a little more relaxed may be good for our immune systems.
If you still feel that commercial cleaning products are necessary, look for the Safer Choice label implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. The label helps consumers identify products with safer chemicals that still offer quality and performance. They are however still chemicals.