LIVING GREEN for Aug. 30, 2012

Simple green steps for everyday eco-living

We are oversaturated with terms such as climate change, global warming, fracking, etc. These terms are all over the news and the upcoming presidential elections. It's overwhelming, especially when you don't know how you can help make a difference in your own life.

So how do average people add a little green into their lives? We all have responsibilities, work, dinners, kids, errands, chores, classes, etc. Some people think that going green takes extra time and effort, others think it takes extra money. Not true if you just sprinkle it into your every day lifestyle.

So, let's think of simple steps we can all take to become a little greener.

Step 1: Recycle. It's the most basic activity of going green. In South Carolina, you have to WANT to recycle. So, yes, in the beginning, it will take extra time and effort. But if you only do one green thing, definitely recycle. You will divert items that are otherwise going to be tossed into a local landfill and we only have one landfill in Horry County. Eventually that landfill will fill up and close, and my guess is that our garbage bills will be more expensive as we find new places to dispose of our garbage. Recycling is taking something old and turning it into something new. You can use recycling as an opportunity to teach your children about the earth. Some cities offer a pick-up service, if not, find out where you can recycle in your area: or

Step 2: Reduce. Pick at least one or two things you want to reduce your use of: electricity at home, plastic bags at the grocery store, excess food, Styrofoam products. This may lead to saving money on your utility bills or your shopping trips. Did you know that it has been estimated that one person may use 500 plastic bags in one year? I do save mine for other uses, but I still end up with too many bags. Think about bringing your own bag to the store. Some stores offer discounts if you bring your own bag (ask your cashier). Just remember to wash or wipe your reusable bags on a regular basis, because like other things, they pick up germs, too. Every day we throw away about five pounds of trash and about 12 percent of that is food waste. We waste food when we don’t eat all of our meals or when we don’t get to cook something in our fridge before it spoils. So shop responsibly by not overbuying food. Here’s a tip - don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry. You will buy too much.

Step 3: Reuse. Get a travel mug or refillable bottle and reuse it. At your coffee shop, ask for a discount if you bring your own mug. If you use one disposable coffee cup per day, it creates at least 23 pounds of waste. You will not only reduce disposal cups, you could even save some money. Some public areas such as airports are installing water refill stations, so you don’t have to buy bottled water. Bring in your empty refillable bottle through security and then refill it on the other side. No more buying bottles of water for $5 each. Reusable lunch containers come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate sandwiches or leftover dinners. Save more money by bringing your lunch to work or school, while reducing your waste at the same time. Just make sure your containers are dishwasher safe.

The bottom line is do what you can and make it a part of your life. Don't add it on top - mix it into what you already have. After you accomplish this, then you can look at taking your green lifestyle to the next level.