Other than reading or meditating, few things are more fun without a group of friends or family… especially when that group is working towards a greater good together. That’s the idea the folks at Organic Soul promote, encouraging communities to get together to go green. And we don’t mean just organizing an organic tea party with your pals, either. We’re talking about how to go green in your neighborhood and get everyone together to change their way of thinking (and living). Here are a few ideas for getting you out of the house and into your local ecosystem, whether you’ve got a green thumb or just good intentions.
• Buy Local/Organic- Not only does this support the local community’s economy, but also when done on a large enough scale, it sends a pretty big message to the big-name producers (at your grocer’s) who aren’t practicing organic growing.
• Grow A Garden- Don’t have enough time to prune your tomato plants on your own? Those intentions might make a bigger difference if the garden belonged to the neighborhood and everyone did their part. And just think of the potluck dinner all those fresh veggies would produce!
• Raise Awareness- You throw block parties every weekend. Party with a purpose next time by sharing information on local green efforts, or ways your community can play a more active role in the neighborhood’s eco vitality. Celebrate nation eco-based holidays and set goals for your community to meet once their thinking goes green!
• Create A Community Cleanup Day- Whether you live on the beach, near the park or along a main road, you know one stray paper cup is just the beginning of a trash pile-up. And even though picking up that one cup to do your part is a good start, imagine what you the whole neighborhood could? “Adopt” a section of your community and dedicate days to get everyone together for cleaning/upkeep. –Jenni Williams
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GO GREEN TIP #15: Don’t Shop: Clothes SWAP!
Our friends who live closer to the heart of metro Atlanta mock us mercilessly for living OTP (a.k.a. outside the perimeter, or I-285, which loosely defines the city). But the best part of living in the ‘burbs is being 20 minutes from Lake Allatoona, especially during weeks like this when temperatures are soaring into the mid-’90s daily. We’ve made great efforts to become environmentally conscious boaters, and recently found a story from the Boat U.S. Foundation (of which we are members) on how to make your day on the water more eco-friendly:
• Keep It Clean- Unless you keep your boat covered 24/7 (and what’s the fun in that?), it’s gonna get dirty. Dust, pollen, food and beverage spills, dead bugs, etc. add up quickly. Cleaning your boat regularly with fresh water and a sturdy brush not only shows you take pride in your vessel, but it also reduces the need for heavy cleaners. A simple solution of baking soda and lemon juice works wonders on carpets and upholstery, and make sure you use a hard, non-fouling paint if you plan in scrubbing the bottom of the boat while in the water.
• Keep It In The Tank- As the BP spill last year showed, one of the biggest threats to marine life is hazardous chemicals entering our waters. When filling your boat’s gas and oil, resist the urge to top off the tank, and use oil absorbent pads to catch any drips from the fuel nozzle that occur between the dock and the boat. If you keep your boat on a trailer, consider fueling up before you put your craft in the water.
• Keep It In The Tank, II- This time, we’re talking about poop. Peeing in the water may be a tradition as old as time itself, but untreated sewage is bad for coastal and inland waters alike. If you need to poop, do it in a restroom before leaving shore. If nature calls while you’re out on the water and your boat has a head, use a USCG-approved Marine Sanitation Device, preferably with enzyme deodorizers.
• Keep Your Trash- Nothing spoils the beauty of nature more than piles of garbage (OK, and maybe the noise of jet skis, but that’s a different story). If you take a picnic out on the boat, make sure to bag all your trash carefully before you drive away, using an on-board trash can that can later be divided into recyclable and non-recyclable elements. Don’t throw ANYTHING overboard, not even cigarette butts, and consider spending a few minutes bagging up trash from your favorite cove or beach to leave the place a little bit better than it was when you arrived.
• Keep Only What You’ll Eat- We love fishing just as much as the next family, but sustainable fishing is essential to ensure to future health of the species. Practice catch-and-release unless you plan on eating the fish, and always observe local catch limits. Using circle hooks and wearing gloves while handling the fish you plan on releasing will give them a much better chance for survival, meaning they can grow bigger, have babies and hopefully become the “Big One” someday. –Bret Love
April showers bring May… Garden for Wildlife Month! Maybe you didn’t grow up with that particular version of the seasonal rhyme, but it’s not too late to make it the next verse. Not only do flowers and other plants need showers to stand up tall through the season, but wildlife needs water to survive. There are some simple ways to attract birds for your own backyard wildlife show —it’s as easy as capturing the rain and making it a dependable source of water for birds and other animals.
• Set up a Bird Bath– The absolute easiest way to provide water for wildlife? Put out a birdbath and to keep it filled. Done! Once the local avian community chirps its arrival, there’ll be a steady stream of fine-feathered visitation for drinking and bathing.
• Install A Mister– Husbands may not be known for green thumbs, but a good mister will help your garden grow by steadily spraying over plants or bird baths. It gives birds a chance to cool down, plus it encourages pollination, leaving tiny water droplets on flowers.
• Ponds and Fountains– Are you willing to take things one step further in your quest for a more eco-friendly garden? Installing a pond or fountain will prove a treat for various wildlife varieties and create a great place for frogs, salamanders and other animals to make their home. –Jenni Williams
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Household soaps and other cleaning products can be full of irritants such as synthetic detergents that biodegrade slowly and cause runoff during production. You can reduce your ecological impact by ditching synthetic ingredients and switching to all-natural castile soap. Castile soap is vegetable oil-based and made with only natural oils and extracts. Liquid castile soap costs less than $10 per concentrated bottle and can be found at health food stores and large national chains. Here are 10 of our favorite ways of using castile soap in 10 cost-effective ways:
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We all love our pets, so why wouldn’t we want to get them involved in the Green movement as well? Pets are just as capable of leaving a carbon footprint as we are, so it’s important to be environmentally responsible when it comes to caring for fido or kitty. Check out these five tips for green pet care!
• Scoop The Poop- Use biodegradable bags to pick up after your pet. It ensures that the waste won’t end up in a nearby stream and keeps plastic out of landfills.
• Food For Fido- You wouldn’t feed your kids meat that’s been deemed unfit for human consumption, so why would you give it to your dog? Many dog and cat foods contain fillers, preservatives and meat from diseased cattle. To keep your pet in top shape, try feeding him organic pet food. It’s made from organically raised farm animals and contains no artificial preservatives.
• Get Crafty For Kitty- You can make Green toys that your cat will love from scraps of cloth and yarn that you have laying around. Organic catnip is cheap and easy to grow, and makes a great filler for toys. Not only do these homemade toys cost a lot less than the pet store variety, but they are also better for the environment.
• Protect Native Wildlife- Always keep dogs on leash when outside and keep kitties inside only. Both dogs and cats are natural predators, and will hunt instinctively. Cats can decrease a bird population dramatically if allowed to roam freely. Plus, cats who are kept indoors live 10-12 years longer on average than their outdoor counterparts!
• Cleanse without Chemicals- Pets can be harmed by chemical cleaners, and are more likely to ingest them than humans are. Avoid using harmful chemicals in the house, such as bleach and anti-freeze. Instead, opt for more environmentally friendly options. Many companies sell Green cleaning products designed to be less harmful to animals. Always try to keep pets away from an area that has just been cleaned with chemicals. –Kristen Nipper
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