Earth Month is officially underway, which means you're likely being nudged to be more environmentally conscious by just about everyone you know. If you want to amend your wayward ways without becoming a full-fledged tree hugger, it's more than possible. We asked actress and burgeoning lifestyle guru Monica Potter, who owns her own line of natural home products and recently teamed up with Viva on a national clean-up initiative to benefit families in need, for six relatively easy ways to incorporate sustainability into your own humble, perhaps not-so-green abode. Read on for her pro tips.
1. Compost everything.
If you're lucky enough to have a backyard, try transforming it into mini fertilizer plant operation. Potter says, "I compost everything outside, much to my husband's dismay. My two sons (Daniel, 25 and Liam, 21) were raised with that in mind."
2. Say goodbye to chemical cleaners.
We all know that cleaning with chemicals isn't great for the environment (or your general health), yet most households still use store-bought cleaners. Potter does one better and makes her own: "I put 2 tbsp of Castile soap in a spray bottle of water with 10-20 drops of an essential oil and shake it up," she says. "It works on every surface."
3. Grow a rose garden—and be proactive about it, too.
It yields enough plants to make your own essential oils (for that homemade all-purpose cleaner!) and even some dried herbs for cooking. Plus, you'll have a better handle on where everything is coming from. "Live off the earth as much as you can while respecting it," Potter says. "Getting involved with your local gardening club is really important so you can share those values and teach a younger generation how to do provide for themselves."
4. Don't wash your clothes (or yourself) too often.
Sure, it sounds unsanitary, but Potter has a point re: saving water. "Don't wash your towels every day, and don't shower every day either," she says, before noting that she would've made a great hippie. "It's bad for your skin!"
5. Get rid of plastic.
"If I find something plastic in the garbage can, I freak out," Potter says. "Every time you use it, it affects the earth. I use all glass bottles. And don't even get me started on paper coffee cups."