Photo by Shannon Kringen
Easy Steps To Going Green
By Krista Peterson

Going green can seem like an intimidating project to undertake, with all of the complex construction and zoning rules and completely getting yourself off the energy grid. It can seem daunting and maybe even almost impossible for the average family. However, you don’t have rebuild your house and remove yourself completely from the grid to go green- here’s three easy steps that anyone can take!

Replace Your Lightbulbs

One of the easiest things that you can do to reduce your energy dependence and go green is replace your incandescent lightbulbs with far more energy efficient compact flouresent (CFL) or LED lightbulbs. On average Americans currently spend 20% of their electricity budget on lighting alone, but energy-efficient lightbulbs can save you about $110 per year, plus you never have to replace them.
Furthermore, if the average American household switched over to energy efficient lights they would save about 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide. If you do replace your lightbulbs just be careful- fluorescent lightbulbs contain mercury, a hazardous toxin.

Start a Garden and Compost

Another easy way to go green is also one of the oldest ways - start your own garden and compost! Not only will your garden help reduce food miles, it will also give you the freshest, most affordable, organic vegetables you could want. And that green garden can save you a little green too, even up to $800 dollars a year in food costs. Growing a garden might seem daunting at first but if you pick the right spot, learn the best type of crops for your region, and take care of it regularly gardening can be pretty easy. Before you begin gardening however, be sure to have your soil tested. Even though the federal government banned lead-based paint from being used on houses in 1978, lead contaminated soil remains of the most common sources of lead poisoning. And just in case you end up not needing as much food as you grow start a compost! The EPA estimates that the average American throws away 1.3 pounds of food each day, and that compostable materials make up nearly a fourth of all of America’s solid waste. By simply dropping your food scraps, grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard, and coffee grounds into a compost you can dramatically lower the waste you leave behind.

Make Sure Your House Is Properly Insulated

It’s old news that heating and cooling a house are among the biggest drains on our fossil fuel energy sources that exists. Unfortunately many houses are not properly insulated, and the use of heating and cooling are far more taxing on our limited resources than they need to be. Even if you, like plenty of other average Joe’s out there, can’t afford to go off the energy grid completely you should still be sure to try and use your energy as efficiently as you possibly can. Most utility companies will offer to examine your house for insulation problems for free as a part of their service, and it’s wise to take them up on this offer since making sure that your house is properly insulated can easily save you thousands. More importantly, a utility company insulation check-up will let you know if your house has been
insulated with asbestos. Asbestos, which still exists in many older homes despite being banned in the 1970’s, has been known to lead to the cancer mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is among the deadliest cancers, as mesothelioma life expectancy is only a little over a year. So for the sake of our environment, your checkbook, and, most importantly, your health be sure and have your insulation checked.

If you’d like to live a greener lifestyle, these easy steps can help point you in the right direction. Not only will they help live a greener lifestyle, they’ll do a great job of helping keep the green in your wallet without too much work.

Krista Peterson is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer. As a Health & Safety Advocate, she shares a strong passion for the wellness of in her community and environmental issues. Krista uses her writings to spread awareness of such issues to help encourage others to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyles possible. She can be reached at krista.peterson925@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Kringen. You can view more of her photos here.