We were new to green once. It seemed completely overwhelming, as if we needed to make a bazillion changes at once. You don't. All you need to do is choose one thing to tackle, get 'er done, then move on to the next one thing. After awhile you will notice that you think differently about the way you move through each day. You WILL remember to bring your reusable bags into the grocery store. You WILL carry a reusable water bottle or coffee mug with you. It will just become a part of your life.
A good place to start is to check out the archive of Baby Steps we've taken. Small success stories.
If you prefer a list, here are ten changes we know you can make, one baby step at a time. Pick just one, then move on to another:
1) Buy or sew cloth napkins, and stop buying paper napkins. You can always find cloth napkins at yard and rummage sales or reuse stores. Look for small, cocktail-sized napkins for kid lunchboxes. Worried about extra laundry? You won't notice any increase if you always wash full loads of laundry and toss your napkins in with the rest of your clothes or towels.
2) Stock up on cloth kitchen towels, then eliminate paper towels from your shopping cart. We know it sounds scary, but it's really not. If you have a hardy stash of towels, divide them up by good, grimey and greasy. The good towels are for drying clean items: hands, pots, countertops. The grimey towels are for cleaning up messes. The greasy towels are for blotting grease from cooked bacon and the like (tea towels are good for this). As long as you are washing full loads of laundry, toss the towels and napkins in with regular laundry and you won't notice an increase.
3) Acquire six reusable grocery bags and put them on the front passenger seat of your car. If necessary, stick a post-it note on the dash to remind you to use them. After a few trips to the grocery, you'll remember to bring them in.
4) Pick one day per week to leave your car parked in the garage. Think creatively: trip-chain your errands; arrange carpools; walk or bike your kids to school. Once you have it down to one day, make it two days.
5) Stop using bleach. We have been brainwashed by marketers to believe we need it. Our clothing can be just as white using a biodegradable detergent with a white vinegar rinse aid. The surfaces of our homes do not need to be disinfected. In fact, a disinfected environment makes viruses even stronger. Warm water and vinegar, baking soda and biodegradable cleaning products are just as effective at cleaning, without compromising our immune systems.
6) Pack your child's lunchbox using durable, reusable containers: a cloth napkin; reusable water bottle; rigid containers for sandwiches, fruit and veggies or snacks; small, stainless steel thermal containers for soup; silverware. Your goal: nothing should be thrown away after lunch.
7) Put a recycling can in your bathroom to capture used toilet paper rolls, boxes from bar soaps, empty shampoo and lotion bottles, and anything else that you can recycle.
8) Stop buying bottled water. Get yourself and the members of your family good quality water bottles, preferably stainless or aluminum lined with non-leaching resin. If you're worried about the quality of your tap water, add a filter or use filtered water pitchers.
9) Starbucks and other disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled. They are injected with a chemical that provides insulation. If getting your coffee to-go is a regular habit, bring your own mug.