Saturday, 5 March 2016

5 Tips to Go Green: At Home

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the environment and going green. Well, it's nothing new, really, but I feel like it's been shoved to the back of my mind. Around me, though, it's been brought up a lot. Recently, a law has passed in Indonesia to pay for plastic bags in supermarkets—I know, we're very late. You don't have to pay a lot, but we as a people tend to be cheapskates for such matters, so hopefully this works. The best part is, this law passed because our people voted—which means they start to be more conscious about these things. That being said, this law is a tiny tip of the iceberg; there are still more trash and waste to think of—but I'm not going to go there. Years ago, I shared some starting out tips on how to go green and how to dispose of your clothes without sending them to landfills. But now I'd like to be more specific and share some of the things you can do in various scenarios to be even more environmentally friendly. Let's start from home, shall we?

Aside from dividing your trash accordingly, you can always donate anything your household is no longer using to those who might need it. This goes not only for clothes, but also for furniture, electronic appliances, books and miscellaneous objects. You can drop them off at the nearest goodwill store, such as Oxfam or The Red Cross. Or you can give them directly to orphanages or homeless shelters in your area. In Indonesia we have certain people who collect unused objects to be repaired/upgraded and then sold to thrift stores. We also have plenty of "reading parks" (taman bacaan in Indonesian) where people can donate books for less fortunate people to read. If you live in Jakarta, you can send your old books to Jakarta Kumpul Buku who send books to taman bacaan across the country.

There are many places in the world where you can drink the tap water. However, people from these places still tend to buy bottled water, which requires tons and tons of plastics. Of course, in a country like Germany, where you can trade your plastic bottles to the nearest grocery store—so that they can be recycled—that is not a problem. But in other countries where such programs aren't applied, these bottles just end up in landfills. It is highly advisable to filter your tap water, instead—or just drink straight from it, if it's drinkable. You'll save so much money and create less trash. If your tap water isn't clean enough—appearing all brown and suspicious—you can always just buy a gallon of mineral water and keep the empty container to be traded when you buy your next supply. This way the container can be reused/recycled by the water company, instead of being sent to landfills.

This is probably a no-brainer for most people—especially those who live on a budget—but I feel like it has to be said. There are many people who live off take outs on a daily basis—though I've ever only seen them in movies. But take outs create a lot of waste, because it requires packaging which gets disposed off after one use. Besides, take outs do not always promise good nutrients; it's not good for your health. So go to the nearest farmer's market, learn to acknowledge the different qualities and try out different ingredients. If you're not experienced in the kitchen, I'd recommend checking out A Beautiful Mess or Donal Skehan. Or you can check out some of mine too, if you like. You can take it a step further and start growing your own ingredients, even just in small pots. You'll learn to appreciate food better.

Although unplugging helps lessen your household's GHG emission, what you switch on also matters. What we can all generally do is switch our lightbulbs to the energy-efficient variety, such as CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb) or LED (Light-Emitting Diode)—both of which are much easier to find nowadays. Your bank account will thank you. But, if you happen to be on the market for new electronic appliances, make sure you pick the greenest choice. You can always check which model uses the least energy, as companies are required to label their products in this respect. If it's not shown in your local electronics store, you can check out the models you want and search online to see if they're energy-efficient. If you live in the tropics, always opt for the fans or exhaust instead of air conditioner, as the latter emits a lot of CFC which contributes to the destruction of the Ozone layer.

Unlike recycling, which requires a whole lot of energy and fancy contraption—and taking your recyclables to the nearest centre, upcycling is something you can do at home. Take an old unused item and repurpose it into something else entirely. I've mentioned before about how you can turn any old shirt into a dish rag, but you can do so much more. You can turn an old drawer into a garden or use an old can for a stationery holder or an empty jam jar for your seasonings. There are just so many things in your house that you can use for more than one purpose. If they're in lesser condition, you can always upgrade them and create an entirely different item. This way, you wouldn't have to run to the store to buy more containers that you probably only use once anyway. Plus, you can decorate them to look uniquely yours. Oh, btw, if you're a noob on the whole home gardening thing—as am I—here's a really cool article to guide you through.

Please still keep in mind the first five steps I've told you about earlier. This is specific for the home, to complete the list I made earlier, so don't disregard that one. You can always take it a step further and change your entire lifestyle—although that is a process so it's fine if you can only do so little by little. If anyone has other tips—or green habits—they'd like to share, please don't hesitate to comment down below and let me know. I'm always eager to learn.

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