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Green Your Guilty Pleasures

soda bottlesGuilty pleasures -- as green you may strive to be, you probably have an un-green habit or craving.  I'm a firm believer that small steps amount to a lot and I also feel that people can go green without going crazy.  There are plenty of ways to make your guilty pleasures a little greener.

What are your not-so-green guilty pleasures?  


Sometimes you just can't get enough of that fizz!  But, between the unsustainability of the sodas themselves and the wastefulness of plastic bottles and cans, you can give your soda habit a revamp.  One option is to make your own.  I love my SodaStream!  You can buy their syrups, but for a greener option you can make club soda and mix with fresh fruit juice or just a slice of lemon.  

The iSi Twist and Sparkle is another cool carbonator and you can carbonate juices, lemonades, iced teas, and even coffee!   


Only get subscriptions to print magazines that you truly enjoy.  It's better to stick to e-versions (e.g. you can subscribe to National Geographic on the Nook) or go to the library.  Many libraries have great periodical sections!  For magazines that you have print copies, loan them to friends when you're done, leave them at the gym for someone else to read, or cut pictures out to reuse for collages and other art projects for your kids.  And, obviously recycle!

Big Macs

You can find recipes online of most fast food meals.   You can replace beef patties with grass-fed humanely-raised beef or even veggie burgers.  You can get organic cheese and if you like making bread -- make your own buns!  This solution does take the "fast" out of fast food, but it makes your meal far more sustainable and could be a way to feed any non-green cravings you may have.  Here's a recipe for for a Big Mac.  


Luckily, organic and fair trade candy is a-plenty these days!  Most are more delicious than their drug story counterparts and not particularly expensive, either.  My favorite?  Newman's Own Organics peanut-butter cups.  Delectable!  Unfortunately, organic or not, most of these treats come wrapped in plastic.  Some grocery stores and co-ops do offer chocolate in bulk, which you can put in a reusable bag.  

A better option is to make your own chocolate bars.  Cut down on packaging, use the ingredients to your liking, and avoid preservatives.  A quick Google search will help you find lots of recipes.  For instance, here's a homemade Snickers recipe!  Replace with sustainable ingredients, cook, and enjoy!

Disposable Diapers  

If you are unable to make a full commitment to cloth diapering, consider a compromise and cloth diaper at least part of the time.  Set a goal for yourself and promise to use cloth diapers whenever you're home or use one cloth diaper a day.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but using one or two cloth diapers a day will keep over 365 disposable diapers from sitting in a landfill!


When you need a bit of retail therapy, rethink the way you shop 'til you drop.  Seek out shopping options closest to home, where you can walk, bike, or take public transit.  If you live in an area where this is difficult, figure out which shopping center is closest to you and if you're going with friends remember to carpool.  

Look into stores with eco-friendly options or better yet...go thrifting!

Lastly, there are lots of websites selling sustainable goods, and even though shopping online might not be as fun, you can often find better stuff.

Long Showers

Ahhh, a nice long shower.  You don't need to give them up completely, but try to make them less frequent.  Take quick showers during the week and save the long showers for the weekends.  

Keeping your house very cool in the summer and very toasty in the winter

There are ways to keep your house closer to your preferred temperature without using extra energy.  Here are some tips for keeping your house cooler in the summer and here are some for keeping your house warmer in the winter.  


Go to the Starbucks closest to your house and bring your own cup!  Currently, not all Starbucks have in-store recycling and most municipalities are not setup to recycle Starbucks cups.   (However, this should change by 2015)  Another way to make your Starbucks trips a little greener are to inquire about their used coffee grinds.  Some Starbucks give away used coffee grinds for use in a garden.   They're great for your garden and compost!