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Green @ Home in Houston: Small Steps to Larger Environmental Impact

Being “Green at Home” is a home practice of environmental mindfulness. In my point of view, “Going Green” is a process that involves pursuing ecological knowledge and instilling recommendations in our society. The aim is to improve current conditions while protecting and sustaining natural resources for future generations. If we are able to start making a difference in our family settings and communities, we can inspire other members of our society to make a difference as well. Green practices that start in the home transfer naturally into public arenas.  
In my family setting, a staple practice of our “green” efforts involves maintaining a minimalistic lifestyle. We opt to do our best to de-clutter our kitchen, bathrooms and storage areas to limit waste. We repurpose vegetable pieces, stalks, seeds and leaves to make stocks and soups. We are also financially advantaged enough to be able to buy energy efficient appliances and cleaning products. In the spring, we open the windows most days to limit air conditioning usage and save on our energy bill. Living in alignment with the “Going Green” movement at home can be very simple because you have more control over your immediate environment. Whereas, in public places the ability to recycle, reuse and save energy rests on the tools and infrastructure provided by the municipality or businesses and organizations in the area. 
The ability to exercise environmental mindfulness depends on living situation and household income. Making conscious choices toward the environment may be much simpler for families living above the median U.S. income. In Houston, neighborhoods in the Southwest quadrant of the city have health and environmentally conscious retailers and restaurants readily available. For someone living in the Memorial area, a Trader Joes or Whole Foods may be less than a block away from home. These retailers have policies that lean heavily toward sustainable agriculture and organic farming. Such places may increase individual awareness of “Green” practices in the community. 
Households with incomes below the current U.S. median may struggle implementing “Green” choices in their homes if businesses in their neighborhoods do not reflect progressive attitudes toward the environment. In neighborhoods like Sunnyside, where my family originally resided, food is more expensive and the quality is poor. In order to give her children nutritious meals, my great grandmother would trek across town to other grocery stores. A commute such as that is a time constraint that few would be willing to spare, especially if more pressing financial or health concerns limit time and mental space for creating new habits. 
The matter of awareness is key when we think about how folks “Go Green” at home. If your neighborhood has no regulations on recycling, it is not likely going to be a priority that comes to mind. We also have to consider what resources are available in different areas of Houston. What knowledge is accessible to people of different backgrounds? Knowledge and increased public awareness can drive change in a positive direction. Make a project of starting your own “Green” initiatives at home and watch as your changed attitudes and habits spread further!


- By: Kelly Beecher

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