Eco-friendliness is back in the news. Former Vice President Al Gore has once again brought pollution and climate change back into public awareness with his continuing push for progress. An Inconvenient Sequel (2017) is meant to celebrate the steps that have been taken since the release of the first film, An Inconvenient Truth (2006). As well as shine a light on how far we still have yet to go.

Those new to the scene may battle with feeling daunted by the road to becoming an eco-warrior. Installing solar panels, or trading out your gasoline guzzler for an electric car, are large changes that will have an impact. But if you or your friends and family are recent converts in adopting earth-friendly habits, starting small is key.

Here are 3 habits to incorporate into daily life that will go far in reducing one’s environmental footprint.

  1. Cut down on harmful cleaning products.

Cleaning products can harm the environment through both the chemicals they contain, as well as the packaging.

According to green cleaning experts in Atlanta, “Some chemicals are simply too toxic to use in any home, even for the most stringent cleaning purposes. In many cases, these chemicals are only on the market because they are either present at ‘acceptably low’ levels or because the FDA simply hasn’t pulled them off the shelves yet.”

Depending on how the cleaning product is packaged, the plastic may or may not be easy to recycle.

Start by reading labels and looking for products that are gentle on the environment. You may find that you don’t need as wide a range of cleaning products as you have been conditioned by the market to use. This will not only save you dollars, but also reduce the amount of chemicals being washed down the drain.

  1. Rethink your gift-giving.

Gift giving for birthdays and holidays is a tradition deeply established within today’s culture. However, not only does it come with a hefty price tag, the environmental impact of commercialism is huge. In the US, half the paper bought or sold is used only during the holidays. And household trash increases by 25 percent from Thanksgiving until the New Year bells ring.

This Christmas, or for the next birthday party you’re invited to, why not change things up? Start to think of your gift giving in terms of its waste producing potential. Could you instead make a homemade gift that would upcycle some items that you are no longer using? Or perhaps bake a favorite meal or give coupons?

If you aren’t crafty and your skills don’t lie in the kitchen, give the gift of a tiny garden, or a plant. Plants help reduce pollution in the air, are fairly economical, and greenery can help reduce stress.

  1. Go paperless.

Paper related waste accounts for about 35 percent of trash in many landfill sites. The paper producing industry is the 5th largest energy consumer in a ranking of industries. Not only that, but the loss of forests due to paper consumption could result in the destruction of all the rain forests in the world in less than 100 years.

Today more than ever before, going paperless is an option that will cause the average person little hardship. Smartphones provide users with a seamless way to keep track of notes and all other ways in which we had previously used paper.

Going digital will not only protect what remains of our forests, but is a cheaper option overall, too. Calendars, books, notebooks, and cards are all paper products with digital equivalents. You can get ecards for any holiday including Christmas and birthdays. There are now even Labor Day and Boss’s Day cards by Hallmark that you can send through email. Not having to buy such materials means more money in your pocket. Making the switch from paper to digital files will likely come with an initial adjustment period.

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