Mindful Living for Living Green

I was talking to a friend recently about something I did ages ago and I said “that’s before I ever even thought about being green or caring about climate change.” I realized that my whole attitude towards how I live my daily life has changed since I have become concerned about our effect on the environment and the changing climate. One thing that I do now is that I live my life more mindfully.

What is living mindfully? Well in this case, it is thinking about what you do and how it might impact the environment. I’m not suggesting that you should agonize over every single little decision you make, you could really make yourself crazy doing that (trust me, sometimes I go down that road).  However, when you have the time and ability, living mindfully is paying attention to the little things.

For example, when I go to throw something away, I decide if it can be recycled or not. If I’m not at home, I look around for a nearby recycle bin.  Sometimes I’ll stick recycling in my car rather than toss it in a nearby garbage can, particularly aluminum cans. Did you know that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a 100W lightbulb for 8 hours (or as Jon would say, an LED equivalent light bulb for 40 hours)?

Another decision we made was regarding toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. We decided that we’re happy using paper towels and toilet paper made with recycled content. At one point we tried several different products and found that we were satisfied with 7th Generation recycled paper towels and toilet paper and we set them up for regular delivery throughAmazon Subscribe & Save. However, for tissues we decided that we really prefer Puffs originals, which are not made from recycled content. When one of us has a cold, and our nose gets sore, it’s important to us to have something really soft at hand.  We made these decisions once, and unless one of the products we like isn’t available, we don’t think about it when shopping for those products anymore.

toilet-paperThen, every time we reach for something to blow our noses or wipe something up, we make a decision about what to use. That’s where living mindfully actually comes in. If I’m in the bathroom and need a tissue, I will almost always use toilet paper. That’s because our toilet paper is made from recycled content and our tissues aren’t. I have both ready to hand in the bathroom and they are practically the same thing. If I’ve been sick, and my nose is really sore, I’ll reach for the tissues and not feel guilty about it. If I’m in a another room, and there’s a tissue box there, I use the tissues and don’t think about it. However, if I don’t need a tissue, I use the toilet paper, because it’s made from recycled content.

Then there’s the paper towels.  If I’m in the kitchen and need to wipe up a spill, I don’t reach for tissues, and I usually don’t reach for the paper towels either.  Nine times out of ten I’ll grab a towel or rag to clean up a spill. I save the paper towels for gross things, like cat puke, and things that stain badly, like paint. These little decisions can really add up over time, it’s actually amazing how rarely we finish a roll of paper towels at our house.

Another place I try to be mindful is when I’m shopping. If I have time when shopping, I think about what is healthier, what is better for the environment and what has a smaller carbon footprint. But sometimes I’m in a hurry, and in those cases, I just grab what I need and go. I know that when I have time I figure out what’s best, but I don’t feel guilty when I’m in a hurry and just grab the store brand organic milk and run.

Because I made a decision ages ago about what to use in what situations, I don’t worry about having to use a ton of paper towels for an unusual situation or having to toss recycling in a trash can because recycling isn’t available and I can’t take it with me. I know that most of what I do is good for the environment and I have a smaller than average carbon footprint. I know that when situations permit, I make mindful choices.

Happy Greening,



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