A few weeks back, I shared 5 ways to go green at work, which reader Little Red reminded me isn’t always easy. Some companies like to update software overnight. You may turn all the lights off if you’re the last one out, only to find them on again in the a.m. when you’re the first one in because the cleaners turned them all on. Your office may not have a fridge for your bagged lunch or a coffee maker for your afternoon pick-me-up. And your choice of computers? Non-existent.
Where you have total control or almost total control is in your own home and in your personal life. In other words, in your time off. Since that’s your time to do with as you see fit – at least within the confines of your family life, if you have one – it’s a lot easier to go green! Here are five ways you can make your evenings and weekends more environmentally-friendly and physically healthy:
1. Replace you usual weekend activities – going to the movies, whatever – with something healthier and simpler. For the outdoorsy types, I recommend hiking, biking, or walking. These work especially well if you happen to have nature nearby, but even the city dweller can go for a long walk in the concrete jungle. Picnics are always good, doubly so if you pack food you’ve prepared yourself using organic, locally-grown ingredients. If spending more than a few minutes outdoors isn’t your bag, how about taking those ingredients and cooking up something yummy, then having a vegetarian or vegan dinner party for neighbors and friends?
2. Keep yourself and the earth clean by changing the way you do chores. It’s not everyone’s favorite lawn mowing option, but a push mower is a non-polluting alternative to traditional gas-powered mowers. Quieter, too. Electric mowers are the in-between option, but consider where that electricity is coming from before you nix people power. When your weekend will be all about inside chores, choose eco-friendly cleaning solutions that won’t leave chemical residues around your home – why, you can even make your own green all-purpose cleaner! And finally, if it’s clothes you’re cleaning, wash on cold. For those devoting their days to errands, try to take fewer trips by finding a route that lets you hit all your stops.
3. Go thrifting! (And drop off some donations while you’re at it.) Shopping is a major weekend pastime for a lot of people, but do you really need all that new stuff? Or to support the production of even more stuff? Someone somewhere may have just donated something that they hate, but you’ll love to the local thrift shop. Could be that delightful something that you’ve been pining after without even realizing it is at the consignment shop in town. You won’t know until you browse. Browsing doesn’t mean you have to buy, though. You could always drop off a few donations, do some window shopping, and then go home to cook that vegan supper you’ve been planning.
4. Weather and season permitting, browse the offerings at your closest farmer’s market. I love mine – everything comes from farms I could drive to myself if I felt like it and they get all kinds of interesting people to man the stalls. The selection is way better than what you’ll find at my nearby supermarket, though I’ll admit the prices are sometimes higher, too. Especially for fruit. But there’s always live music playing and other vendors – like the ladies from the shop that sells nothing but sweet and savory muffins – and it’s rare to not run into someone I know. Bonus points go to farmer’s market shoppers who live close enough to walk or bike, though I understand that’s not possible for everyone.
5. Turn in early and sleep deliciously late. Sleeping in is a luxury for almost everyone, and going to be early is often a luxury savored by parents, insomniacs, and other people who are forced by fate to stay up well into the nighttime hours. What’s so green about going to bed early and sleeping in, you may be asking? As long as you turn out the lights and electronics before hitting the sack and your programmable thermostat is doing its job, you’re conserving energy whenever you’re asleep.