Green City Living: Small Lifestyle Changes you can start on Earth Day
Earth Day 2014I love New York City amongst other things, for its lofty architecture, immense opportunities, for its hustle and bustle and as the melting pot of culture and food. As Earth Day approaches, I wondered how large cities like New York, while on one hand use greener public transportation on the other are limited by space to other green activities such as home composting and gardening. Small changes can make a huge difference for our Earth and so educate yourself first. You can go to resources such the Environmental Working Group to learn more about your carbon footprint and what activities create the most impact. Here are a few that we found to be easy to implement as a city resident: Walk, Bike or Subway Taking the subway will shrink your carbon footprint; in fact, the MTA shows that the average trip keeps 10.39 pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere.  Walking or biking is by far the cleanest way to get where you’re going but even carpooling can reduce your carbon footprint (and traffic!). Skip Meat once/week According to a 2006 report by United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization FAO, our meat diets cause more greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide (14-22% of CO2 equivalent) than either transportation or industry.  Over 1 year, the greenhouse emission impact of one family of 4 skipping meat and dairy once/week = not driving their car for 5 weeks. You do not need to give up meat entirely, rather you can create an impact just by pledging to go meatless once per week here. Join us every Monday to share your meatless recipes on twitter by saying “@herbnzest I made <your recipe name> <picture> #MeatlessMondays <your tagline>”   Reduce Food Waste at Home 40% of food in America ends up in landfills = $2300/year of food wasted per family of 4, leading to wasted energy in processing and transporting and then discarding this food. We can impact this number by taking a few small steps at home: 1) reorganize your fridge and menu-plan to use up older items 2) buy only what is necessary rather than bulk shopping 3) order smaller portions 4) reuse leftovers. Recycle and Reuse (Donate and Buy Vintage!) Some municipalities provide for you to segregate trash according to plastic, paper, regular trash and sometimes even green recycling. So make an effort to do the same at home so you can support that. You can hand-down clothes, shoes, glass jars, books and other low-use items such as baby toys and car seats to family and friends. If you do not have family or friends living nearby, consider donating your old re-usable items in good condition to Salvation Army or Goodwill so others can reuse them. Vintage shopping is not only trendy but also a great way to reuse clothing and accessories. If you live in New York, vintage stores in Greenwich Village and Soho have loads to steals to create your personal style while being green. Follow vintage clothing and décor blogs for inspiration, like Vintage-Thrills and Diary of a Vintage Girl. Buy Local and Fresh, Less Processed and Packaged Items Buying local and fresh is good not only because it tastes better but local organizations use less transportation (aka reduced greenhouse gas emissions) and less packaging (trash that ends up in landfills). And don’t forget to bring your re-usable grocery bags! Processed and packaged items use more energy to package and frozen/refrigerated items use energy to transport/store so reducing consumption of both will reduce your carbon footprint. Buy Earth-Friendly Products for Cleaning Try making up a simple vinegar-and-water counter cleaner, or swapping out your bleach cleaner for a less-toxic orange-based one. Here’s a roundup of natural cleaning products, void of toxic substances, that you can buy or DIY. Our motto through this blog has been to grab the low hanging fruit, ones that require minimal lifestyle changes while creating the most impact on the environment. And when we have a good thing going, why not shout it out? We will rally and support you as you share your stories with us on Facebook and Twitter by re-tweeting and sharing all of April!

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