Effortless ways to be more eco-friendly

Perhaps the most common misconception about going “green” is that it takes a lot of effort. On the contrary, as environmental awareness grows, it’s now easier than ever before to bring an element of eco-friendliness to virtually every aspect of your life.

The first step to adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle is simply being aware of your options. There might be a more environmentally conscious way to do the things you do every day, but if you don’t know about it, it’s hard to make the switch. And when you do find ways to be greener in the activities you already do, the benefits can add up quickly.

Consider these easy ways to bring a bit more green into your lifestyle – without making sacrifices or extra effort.

* When you clean: The house will always need to be cleaned, and you’ll always need to buy the tools and products necessary for the job. Making the switch to a greener clean is as easy as looking for environmentally friendly products, and you can make double the difference by paying attention to packaging as well. For instance, Ecover, maker of ecological cleaning products, uses 100 percent PlantPlastic bottles. The recyclable bottles are made from sugarcane, which is processed without harmful petrochemicals and is highly renewable, so you can feel doubly good about making your house squeaky clean.

* When you travel: Everyone needs a vacation now and again – why not give yourself added relaxation from the peace of mind that comes with staying in eco-friendly accommodations? Eco-lodges and resorts are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds, as travelers discover that a luxury experience and being good to the environment really can go hand in hand. And you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to find a green vacation. In ever-popular Jamaica, for instance, Hotel Mocking Bird Hill provides eco-chic accommodations set in lush tropical gardens near both the Caribbean coast and the famed Blue Mountains. Throughout April, Ecover is offering green-minded travelers the chance to win a five-day getaway to Hotel Mocking Bird Hill in honor of Earth Month. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/EcoverUS.

* When you shop: With national attention increasingly focused on eating healthy, you can make choices about food that are both good for your family and good for the environment. Try shopping at your local farmers market to bring home everything from fresh fruits and veggies to meats and even pantry items like honey and spice mixes. Buying products that are made or grown in your area cuts down on the distance between producer and consumer, reducing the carbon usage that is associated with hauling products across the country or the globe. You’ll also be supporting your hometown’s economy, as an added bonus.

* When you eat: When you gather around the table for a meal, you can make a difference with what you don’t eat as much as what you do eat. By cutting out meat just one day a week – as proposed by the popular Meatless Mondays campaign – you can help reduce your carbon footprint as well as minimize the water and fossil fuel usage that goes into producing meat.

Making your lifestyle a little bit greener can be a step-by-step process. With each change you make, you’ll be doing the environment a favor and helping to create a more sustainable world. For more information about going green effortlessly, or to enter one of Ecover’s monthly sweepstakes, visit www.facebook.com/EcoverUS.