Today’s post comes from Jayme Cook, a writer, English and Communications professor, zombie fanatic, maniacal reader, and Oxford comma enthusiast living in Phoenix.
A common misconception about vegans and vegetarians is that their primary goal is to not eat meat. While avoiding animal products is a big part of the lifestyle, veganism extends beyond diet to include daily practices rooted in respect for man, animal and environment. What some may see as a restriction, others view as a way of living.
Adhering to clean eating habits is just the first stage of cultivating a healthy existence. After your body is on the right track, it’s time to “greenify” your home. Here are three steps to ensure that your living environment reflects your vegan values.
Creating a green home is the first and simplest step and one that rewards you for your altruism. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) expel 75 percent less energy and burn almost 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. Using CFLs throughout your house could result in energy savings and a reduction in carbon dioxide that is equivalent to not driving your vehicle for a whole year.
But with great power (savings) comes great responsibility. CFL bulbs have small amounts of mercury in them, which means they are unsafe for standard landfill disposal. Check the Environmental Protection Agency to find the proper receiving facility for them in your area.
Pest Prevention & Animal Control
The next step is a doozy. You have to find humane and toxin-free methods of pest and wild animal control to greenify your vegan lifestyle. Popular DIY sprays, since their purpose is to kill, are not conducive to the vegan way of life and contain chemicals that can be harmful to people and pets. When it comes to environmentally sound pest control, the best approach is to be informed of the pests indigenous to your region and take precautions to avoid attracting them. (QV note: This article on natural ant control is particularly helpful!)
If you already have an infestation, though, preventative measures are futile. However, you do have a little-known option through the American Horticultural Society, which has local branches throughout the country. If you’re plagued by pests, you can take a sample specimen of the insect to a Master Gardener for examination. This professional then gives you a detailed plan for combating the problem based on the kind of pest you are dealing with.
Unfortunately, there will be times when a pest or wild animal situation poses a serious health risk and is beyond your control. This is when it is necessary to call in the professionals. The right service can remove pests and animals humanely and with the kind of care that’s in line with your vegan values.
The third step in greenifying your home to vegan standards is to break the bad habit of buying traditional household products. Many cleaning products, cosmetics and personal hygiene products are composed of caustics and solvents that are tested on animals or contain animal byproducts. Not only do numerous products and brands defy humane and clean production standards, but some are outright threatening to your health.
You can avoid some hazardous ingredients and unethical testing practices by simply making cleaning products yourself. For example, if you want a multipurpose cleaner, mix salt and vinegar together or combine a little vinegar and baking soda to deodorize and polish any surface in your bathroom or kitchen. But if you aren’t the DIY type, PETA offers a searchable database of all the companies and products they have deemed “friendly.” (QV note: RAD Soap’s Hempstile is a great alternative option — you can use it to clean literally everything!)
These simple steps will help you make the switch to a greener home environment that’s friendly to the environment, kind to animals and healthy for your family. What other “greenifying” tips do you have for fellow vegans?