Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Tips from Greenjeans

Happy Earth Day!
Small changes and little decisions add up to big change! Here are some quick tips for achieving a smaller footprint:

1) Stop buying vinyl
I don't mean records. I mean anything containing PVC. That's the kind of soft plastic that gives off the funky smell found in everything from shower curtains to kid's toys. PVC is toxic to the environment and to your body because, among other things, it contains phthalates.

Phthalates are also found in many beauty products and baby products. Europe and California are leading the way in a ban of phthalates, even though the U.S. government insists they're harmless. Learn why here, here, here, here, and here.

2) Consider packaging
Do you really need a bag? Can you buy those nuts in bulk instead of a disposable can? Is a similar product available that's packed in less plastic? Remember when you buy something, you're not just buying the thing, you're also saying "yes" to it's packaging.

3) Use those cloth bags
And if you must take a plastic bag, reuse it as a garbage can liner. Please don't just throw it out -- plastic bags live on for hundreds of thousands of years...

4) Drink tap water
Many places, including NYC, have fantastic tap water. Don't like the taste or worried about heavy metals? Buy a water filter and fill your own dishwasher-safe reusable bottles. Buying bottled water is not only a huge drain on our wallets, it's overtaxing our highways, natural streams, and landfills (since most people don't recycle them). Plus need I remind you that water bottles are plastic, which is made from petroleum, requires a great deal of energy to produce, and lives on for hundreds of thousands of years.

5) Switch to wind or solar power
Many electric companies are offering a choice these days, and for a few cents more you can get your power from cleaner sources. Check your next electric bill -- there may be information right in there already. Or if not, give them a call. Because as more of us get involved, the prices will come down and the positive impact will increase.

The bottom line is: before you buy something, remember to ask: Do I need it? Is it worth the money and impact? And can I responsibly dispose of it? Use your dollar vote as a force for change. And spread the word!

Posted and photo (of bird in tree outside today) by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

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