When you practice living intentionally, what does it mean to you? Do you wake up and go through the motions or are you consciously choosing how you can make your day great? Are you actively engaging in your life and making purposeful decisions or numbing out?
These are the types of questions people who live intentionally ask themselves. It means something different for everyone. If one of your fundamental beliefs is how you are impacting the environment, here are five green lifestyle choices that can help make a difference, not only for you, but perhaps on the world as a whole. Just think if everyone did their part, even in a small way.
Most of us grew up with gas-powered lawn mowers. The sound of them firing up throughout the neighborhood was a sure sign summer was upon us — a summer rite of passage, if you will. Those gas-guzzlers got the job done.
Fast forward to being a homeowner. You still desire a beautiful, plush lawn because it reminds you of days gone by, and you’re not interested in the xeriscape thing. But now you’re more keen on having one less motor in the world. Here’s where intention comes in.
If your lawn is small enough, getting a manual, push reel mower seems like a good way to cut down on noise and pollution. It’s an intentional and practical decision on your part. Plus, a push reel mower is simple. It isn’t likely to break down. And you feel like you’re doing something the way it’s been done for a long time, you know, the old-fashioned way, like during the mule and plough days. To some, that’s more fulfilling.
Share Your Space
This may not be for everyone, but cohousing is a type of “intentional community” where people choose to live together as a group. Members have their own living space and private lives, but sometimes they will share garden space, a laundry room and kitchen area with their neighbors. They share the work to make sure their community runs smoothly and is in harmony with the earth through green building and sustainable practices.
Another option to pool resources would be to get a roommate or two to share a home or apartment you already have. Splitting the bills and living costs are great ways to save money and conserve resources. The most important part is that you are sharing your space with people who hold similar values and beliefs on how to live sustainably. Just be prepared before going into it, especially if you don’t know the person well, to clearly define the roommate expectations.
Energy Efficient Cooking
Speaking of summer, you may be less inclined to fire up the stove because it heats up the house too much. On those days you want to use your conventional oven, instead consider a solar cooker which is an extremely energy efficient way to cook food. A solar oven can bake, boil and steam food without the need for fuel. It’s simply powered by the sun. It’s a pretty cool looking contraption, too.
Many RVers use solar cookers in their travels, but there’s no reason traditional homeowners can’t set one up on their patio. Obviously they work best in sunny regions, but they are still useful in most parts of the country, especially during summer months.
People in Arizona will look at you funny if you put a load of laundry into the dryer. It’s not only a waste of energy, it probably takes less time to dry clothes in the sun than it would in an electric clothes dryer.
In areas where the humidity is relatively low, especially in the west, it makes sense to let clothes and bedding dry in the sun. Even in humid areas, line drying in the summer is perfectly doable. You don’t have to live a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ lifestyle to take advantage of breezy, warm days and hang your clothes on a line to dry.
If you have daily laundry needs, a clothes dryer can account for 12 percent of home energy usage, according to some estimates. While you may not be saving millions of dollars over the course of the year and it may be more of a hassle than anything, you’re doing a good thing - if you have environmental concerns. Clothes drying is one of the easiest areas to save energy.
This is an obvious one, yet many of us still refuse to reduce, reuse and recycle. On both coasts, it’s more common than not to recycle. It’s the norm and it’s expected. As an ally of the environment though, you already know — no matter where you live — not to simply throw everything away into a trash can.
Many cities provide each home with separate bins for trash, recycling and compost. Usage is inherently encouraged because the cost for all three is built into your aggregate monthly bill.
Some advocates think that households who don’t recycle should be fined or they should be fined for putting non-recyclable items into the recycling bin, thereby inconveniencing the workers who have to separate trash from the recycled items. What are your thoughts? Either way, recycling is a simple way to prevent our landfills from overflowing.
The farm to table movement is a trend that continues to grow because people not only want food that is fresher and healthier, they want to reduce their carbon footprint by knowing that their food travels fewer miles to get to their plate.
The increase in local food sales is an indication that foods’ origin is important. In 2014, local food yielded $11.7 billion in sales and is expected to climb to $20 billion by 2019, according to market research.
Buying at local farmers’ markets, purchasing directly from farmers, and supporting a community supported agriculture (CSA) co-op are just a few ways to boost your local economy while being a friend to the earth.
Every day is a new opportunity to make decisions about the direction you are headed. When you’re living intentionally, you aren’t stuck because you know you have a choice in the matter. What does your life say about you? What are you contributing and communicating to the world? When you look it, you probably realize that your life’s passions are bigger than just yourself, aren’t they?