The Green Way of Living: Some Ideas on How to Begin the Journey

Mindful living—this is one of my goals this year. To be more conscious of my actions and their effects to the people and things around me… To act with intent in accordance with my values and purpose, instead of simply going with the flow of daily life. And green living, as I have previously mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, is one of the things I would like to continue to pursue this year.

There’s been so much talk about climate change these days, too many arguments taking place about whether it is true or not, about conspiracy theories and the likes… And all these ever do is spread hate and create divisions between people. I don’t claim to know much about climate change or whether it is indeed happening or not—I leave the debating to more informed individuals (for now).

What I do know, though, is that there are practices which are harmful to the environment and to all its inhabitants, and the first step to caring for Mother Earth is the avoidance of such practices:

  • Excessive trash and their improper disposal
  • The use of harsh chemicals that affect our land, air, and sea
  • The undisciplined use of our natural resources

How much trash do we produce?

I read about the photographer Gregg Segal a few years back and was awed by the powerful photographs that he took in a project called ‘7 Days of Garbage’. Segal took a portrait of various individuals surrounded by all the trash that they produced and accumulated in a span of one week. Here’s a sample:

7-days-of-garbage-gregg-segal

The portraits are powerful reminders that the bigger environmental problems that we face as a society actually root from our personal lifestyles. And if we are to expect big positive changes, the change must first start with us.

The Rule of Reduction

I have found that one of the first steps towards green living is to reduce consumption, to find a balance in living a minimalistic lifestyle that I can still enjoy.

We are a society that is addicted to consumption, and the temptation to consume surrounds us daily. Every week, a new mobile phone model is released. Everywhere, we are bombarded by billboards advertising the newest beauty products to combat skin aging, the latest fashion trends to keep us on top of our ‘game’… And so much more.

There’d been so many times in the past when I was tempted to buy new skin care products to help me ‘take care of my body more’ (a mindset that is especially strong during the New Year because of our new goals and resolutions)… Only to find myself later on too tired to follow a long skin care routine that involves slathering on layers of cream and other products on my skin, and that all I actually needed was a short routine that involves three simple steps. In the end, I was left with several bottles of products kept on the shelf, unused, until they expired. Such a waste.

Right now, I am trying to stay practical in all my buying choices. I still make miscalculations every now and then and buy something I end up not using, but these are lessons that help me choose wiser the next time.

The Rule of Reuse, Recycling, and Upcycling

Consumption cannot be avoided. And as long as we consume, we make trash. But for items such as plastic grocery bags, cardboard boxes, loose ribbons, and so many others, there could be second, or even third use.

Bored Panda has a great article about recycling plastic bottles, one of the most common trash that we produce. Here’s a photo of one:

plastic-bottle-recycling

For this year, I’d like to work on DIY projects that involve crafts made out of recycled materials. The first step for me is to declutter. My goal this month is to find 31 items to dispose by the end of January—one great way to purge and do away with clutter at home. I’m also working on building a craft box and filling it with the basic supplies, and my first project would be coming from the 31 items I find. I’ll be sure to blog about this in the near future.

The Rule of Substitution

At its basic level, living green is all about making green choices.

To ride to work or to walk? And if I choose to ride, should I car pool with friends for less carbon footprint? (I’m lucky to have found an apartment that’s within walking distance of my office.)

To buy chemical-laden products or to buy natural, environment-friendly products (or even use homemade products)?

To shop for imported products or visit the local market (and help our local farmers while reducing carbon footprint—since local products didn’t have to be transported from across the seas)?

The choice is not always easy because of habit—what we’ve been used to is often the convenient choice. Sometimes, the green option is more expensive. Or it takes more effort to pursue. However, if we only try, I learned that we can all find the right balance between living green and living an enjoyable life.

I do not claim to have succeeded in living a green lifestyle, but in the personal ways that I can, I try my best to make the green choice. Wish me luck this year! 🙂

Featured photo courtesy of Chapman University Blog
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