I was excited when, a few years ago, the Discovery Channel created "Planet Green." It's a wonderful channel with a lot of good ideas, and a pretty comprehensive website. I found the article "99 Skills for an Eco-Friendly DIY Lifestyle" to be particularily interesting, especially since I already do a lot of these things myself!
Here's some tips of my own based on Planet Green's list:
16. Have a repertoire of vegetarian recipes you can use for various occasions.
For lunch today, I had tabouli, a wonderful Mediterranean dish that's easy and cheap to make, and delicious to eat.
2 c bulgur wheat and 2 c water - saturate until it's done.
Add: chopped bundle of parsley, 1 cucumber, 1 tomato, a couple of tablespoons of lemon and a tablespoon or so of oil. You can also add mint or black pepper depending on how you like the taste. It's good as a salad, or on pita bread, and it's 100% veg and diabetic friendly - no meat, and bulgur has a low glycemic index.
28. Sew well enough to make your own clothing and reusable shopping bags.
Can do! As I said in an earlier post, I am endeavoring this year to buy as few new pieces of clothing as possible, and instead try to recycle what I have or buy second-hand. Though, I'll admit, I caved and bought a Woot Shirt last week.
44. Find what you need by bartering, or using CraigsList, eBay, and thrift stores.
I'm a big fan of this method of furnishing my apartment. In fact, all of my furniture is either inherited, a craigslist or garage sale find, or salvaged from the trash. And you know what they say about one person's trash.
53. Plant a garden for your climate
This one's a big deal here in Minnesota. The growing season here is pretty short. I also have the added difficulty of living in an apartment with no yard to speak of. However, my roommmates and I have plans in place for an apartment garden, where we'll grow herbs in old milk cartons. Just like elementary school.
69. Know how to use herbs and natural remedies to treat common illnesses.
Not enough people know how to do this right, and it bugs me. Yeah, you can go out and spend all your money on Tylenol Cough and Cold and Excedrin Migraine, but here's a thought: read the labels. Understand them. Tylenol and Excedrin have the same main active ingredient - acetaminophen. The only difference is the side stuff. Tylenol PM is acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, which is the active ingredient of Benadryl. Excedrin is usually acetaminophen and caffeine. Just knowing that can help cut down on the number of pill bottles in the cupboard, the danger of combining meds and overdosing, and the tendancy to spend too much on those tiny little bottles.
In terms of natural remedies, ginger can be used to treat upset stomachs.
Coffee and other foods with natural caffeine can help to treat headaches.
Honey can treat pink eye.
74-78 are Transportation Skills.
One thing I'd definitely add to this is "Utilize public transportation." Here in the Twin Cities, Metro Transit does a pretty good job of making sure folks can get to one area from another. It is possible now to get from the Mall of America to Elk River by train, with one transfer from the Hiawatha LRT to the North Star at Target Field. I might just do it for the hell of it one of these days.
While they don't yet have an app for the iPhone or Android market, the website's pretty comprehensive, and they stay on top of the schedules.
85-99 are Conservation Skills.
Embrace Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is really what these amount to. If you don't have to create garbage, don't. If you do, create as little as possible. And if you have to throw something away, know how. Old TVs, coumputers and batteries have special disposal places and methods. Recycle bins aren't just meant for the kitchen - those boxes that toothpaste comes in and empty toilet paper rolls are paper recyclables. Sort accordingly.
Happy Earth Day!
Coming soon: A preview post of weekend events around St. Paul and possibly Minneapolis, highlighting springtime and staying green!