Where to Start with Going Green

It’s easy to become overwhelmed while adopting a greener lifestyle. For one, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. And, two, it can feel like you need to change EVERYTHING about your life in order save the planet and your own health. It’s hard to know where to begin.

Here at Smart Green Tips, the focus is on saving the planet and saving money. Most importantly, when we do those things, we also save ourselves. Generally, what’s good for the planet is also good for us. But that philosophy uses a wide brush. I’d like to help you narrow it down, help you figure out which changes will have the most impact and which will be easiest to implement.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or by email, if you’d prefer. Where are you feeling overwhelmed? What questions do you have? What would make it easier for you?

Photo Credit: cmcgough


  1. I think one of the easiest ways to start going greener is when you run out of a cleaning product or shampoo or whatever replace it with something greener (don’t worry if it is the greenest, you don’t have to be perfect). For personal care items I like to consult the cosmeticsdatabase (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/?nothanks=1), they do have stuff about some home products like hand soaps as well, they really help you figure out which products are the greenest. Of course I also go the DIY route for some things too, I make some of my own shampoos and conditioners and I discovered the best facial moisturizer for my money is a really good coconut oil (wash your face, then put the oil on and let it sit for a few minutes, then wash your face again). Just like anything in life there is some trial and error to finding the products that work best for you.

    Some of the easiest changes to make though are changing your light bulbs to CFLs, huge savings on the electric bill. Also, getting flour sacks (or any other reusable rag) to use in place of paper towels, yes we still keep a roll of paper towels for guests and cleaning up cat vomit but we use almost no paper towels and the same goes for our napkins as we switched to cloth at the same time as switching to flour sacks for cleanups. Using reusable cleaning rags really saves a lot of money too, you can save even more by just using old clothes that are ripped, etc as your cloths.

    Those are just some of the changes and ways we started out on our quest to be greener, these days we are focusing a lot more on only buying things we really need and when we really need something we try to find something that we love and that will last so we won’t have to replace it in the near future ( a huge waste of resources and money when you are constantly replacing things).

  2. Beth I’m a big coffee drinker, and many people don’t realize that unless your coffee is shade grown, the way it grew naturally, the farming of coffee can have a huge negative impact on the environment. For me an easy, and effective change was to buy fair trade organic / shade grown coffee. It costs no more than a brand name coffee such as starbucks or caribou.

  3. @Christine – Those are some terrific suggestions. I, too, am a fan of EWG’s Cosmetics Database. It sounds like you have made a lot of changes bit by bit, which is ultimately quite manageable. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

  4. @Nicole – Ah, yes, coffee. . .I switched to Fair Trade/Shade Grown coffee a few years ago and wouldn’t go back. It’s true that Shade Grown/Organic coffee is better for the environment and it’s also better for the coffee farmers. I think it’s important to consider not only our impact on the planet, but the impact of our purchases on other people. Fair Trade ensures that farmers receive a living wage for the work that they do. Excellent tip!