I've recently being researching about being more environmentally friendly, either by making sure to use re-usable bags, taking my BPA-free water bottle with me everywhere, and attempting not to buy just to buy things.
Also I've been looking up ways to switch my beauty routine (already very simple) to more environmentally friendly products (I've been looking into going shampoo-free)
How are you being more environmentally friendly these days, in and out of the barn? I'd love some tips.
There are great recipes out there for making home cleaning supplies. Most involve white vinegar. The nice thing is you only need to buy a spray bottle you can keep refilling out of large jugs of vinegar.
My favorite energy saving thing is to hang out all my laundry. This is huge in the summer, because then I am not heating up the house with the dryer, only to cool it down with the air conditioner. Check out your Whole Foods or health food shop for environmentally friendly shampoos
Boxed wine is also more environmentally friendly! It takes less space to ship than the same amount of bottled wine. Many West coast wineries ae embracing this idea and bottling for those past a high school palate! CHeck out www.sunset.com for tons of great ideas. They had a story recently on a family that only threw out ONE bag of garbage a year. It involved buying in bulk and using reusable glass jars and other great ideas.
Witch hazel is a great astringent for chemical free beauty routines
It depends a lot on where you are starting. Do you idle your car in drive-thru's, wasting gas, polluting, and using up a lot of packing that gets thrown out in an hour? Or are you gardening a lot of your own food organically?
If you have stuff that could be useful, list it on freecyle instead of dumping it.
I joined a local FreeCycle group in my college town, it was really helpful! I am pretty careful with my clothes--going through my closet every few months to clean out what clothes I don't wear anymore.
Luckily I wear all my stuff pretty diligently--I've had one pair of shoes for 10 years!
One of the biggest things you can do is cut down on the amount of meat you eat, especially beef. It takes a lot of resources (water, energy, etc) to raise a cow, finish it (usually on grain), butcher it, and transport it to super markets.
Some little, easy steps:
Buy local and/or organic when possible. Opt for reusable things, like tupperware over sandwich baggies. Look up your townships recycling rules and follow them. Take public transportation, or plan your errands to use the least gas. Think of ways to conserve water (which takes a lot of energy to purify): shorter showers, run full dishwashers only, etc. Turn off/unplug things when not in use (power strips are your friend). Don't turn on the a/c on nice days. When you buy soda/beer, opt for cans over 2L plastic bottles. Replace light bulbs with the new CFL ones. And DON'T water your lawn!
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden
Take the bus to work.
Own a car that gets good gas mileage.
Don't eat beef, poultry, or pork
Minimize purchases of leather goods
Minimize purchases of most other things (we all buy a lot of crap, most of which we don't need, and instead of getting things fixed, we throw them out and buy a new one. I try to get things repaired before replacing, and use things for a long time.)
Turn off power strips at night
Live in multi-unit housing. Very few of us "need" a 3,000 sq ft house and all the energy use and habitat destruction that goes with it.
Use simple, natural cleaners and personal care products (with no animal ingredients) as much as possible (olive oil for make-up remover, castile soap for hands and face, etc.).
Meatless Monday! The raising, processing, and shipping of meat is extraordinarily harmful to the environment. If you are really dedicated to this, the go vegetarian! Not only is it eco friendly, but it also helps you lose weight.
I recently wrote an article about this. Some ideas: compost manure; dump horse water buckets into the garden to recycle it, use a rain barrel, reuse paper shavings bags for household recycling, keep one in the barn for recycling plastics.
Trade in your car for something that gets 30-35+ mpg. There is some debate though on the ecological impact of hybrids, since the mining & production of the batteries are an extremely toxic dirty process. But you can still get 34 mpg in a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit without going hybrid.
Change your driving habits. Combine trips, ride share, and travel less in general. Change your vacation habits; consider doing a "staycation" where you vacation in town instead of flying to a far-off location.
Stop eating meat. It's extremely inefficient, it creates a massive amount of greenhouse gas, and it creates pollution.
Change your home energy habits. Keep lights off unless absolutely needed. Dont leave TV or radio on when out. Change incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Adjust the thermostat so furnace or AC doesn't run as often. Turn back the heat on the hw heater. When it comes time to replace appliances, look carefully for Energy Star models. Front loading washers save on water, hot water, and electricity. Turn off outdoor lights or at least replace bulbs with higher efficiency ones.
Change you general use/shopping habits. Buy foods with less packaging. Buy local foods vs those shipped 1000s of miles. Keep clothes longer. Utilize freecycle and Craigslist. Enjoy flea markets & thrift shops to give items a 2nd life (and save money).
Just as important as what you may do directly to be "enviromentally friendly" is to first research what you hear or read and not just with a quick googling, as many hits are feeding off others that are wrong or full of misconceptions.
Be sure you are truly narrowing your carbon footprint, not just are being misled into following someone else's agendas.
As an animal agriculture professional, I would have to second Bluey's advice that those advocating the giving up of meat give up the care and feeding of a horse. The notion that growing grain to feed an animal that we use as a protein source is bad for the environment but the growing, processing and shipping of feed for a likesized animal used solely for pleasure is acceptable is baffling. The gas used going to and from a barn for rider, groom, trainer, vet, farrier, feed delivery, hay delivery, bedding delivery is immense, then add on the gas used for all the connections to get to a show, event, trail ride, what have you and you get a serious carbon footprint. Not to mention the idea that it is ok to use an animal for it's hide to make saddles, boots, bridles, etc, but not to eat meat, a "bi-product" of all that leather?
I would love to see a study measuring the carbon foot print of a racehorse, show horse, trail horse, etc from conception to the end of their life, and compare it against that of a dairy cow and a beef cow.
You don't have to quit meat to be environmentally friendly You can raise your own meat or find local producers to buy directly from.
My chickens give me eggs daily and will be wonderful in the stew pot when they are no longer productive! I raise and butcher my own rabbits, am waiting for my neighbors sheep to reach the appropriate weight so that I can buy a lamb for my freezer from her, and am researching local options for beef and pork until I have built my farm up so that I can supply myself with those things as well. Hopefully my DH will get a deer or two this winter and we can add those to the freezer.
Personally, I rarely use heat or ac (unless I have guests or my husband is home and he complains!). I make my own laundry detergent in 5 gallons buckets, make my own soap, vanilla extract, cook most meals instead of prepackaged stuff. I try to limit my driving and combine trips to town.
We always have a steer and a couple hogs we raised in the freezer, too. My husband isn't a hunter, but growing up my Dad was. Rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, quail, venison. Yum! Care to share the laundry detergent recipe?
Dance_To_Oblivion, I see you are in a very "dairy" area of KY. Try some of your local dairy farmers. Most keep a steer or two and maybe a free martin. Holstein meat, contrary to popular belief, is great, you just can't handle the burger too much or it will toughen. The dairies in your area also may fatten hogs on waste milk and sell them as fats. Milk fed, corn finished pork is amazing. Sometimes on CL you can find people selling sides of beef. What chickens do you have?
In the garden, besides minimizing lawn care (fertilizing every week and watering twice a week 6 months a year is resource-intensive and produces harmful runoff), plant native plants. They tend to require less fertilizer and water since they're adapted to your local milieu, and they are much better at providing habitat for local wildlife and insects. If you're not sure where to start, your county extension agent (google cooperative extension + your area) can give you advice on which native plants might suit your needs, as can any of your local master gardeners, nursery proprietors, etc.