I have been pondering this a lot over the past few days, and my friend Sara’s recent post about her Crunchiness prompted me to blog about it, as well.
One of my New Year’s goals was to choose one thing to be greener this year. I’m not sure what it will be yet, Ihave a few ideas. But in the meantime, here’s a list of the things I do now, or the things I mean to do and need to do. Followed by a list of ideas for new things to do.
And if you’re interested in this topic, I have started a small series called Going Green at the Wallypop blog.
- Keep an eye on our electricity usage. We try to be mindful of turning lights off, turning appliances off, etc. One thing we do not do is turn ANY of the computers off, and I’m not sure I want to change this. I like/need instant access since I have very short periods of time in which to use a computer. We do turn monitors off and I have all the machines set to sleep after a short while.
- Cut down on appliance use. We’re efficient with our stove and oven, using pot lids and never trying to cook something in an open pot (letting all the heat escape out the top, lengthening cooking time). We hang clothes outside instead of drying whenever possible (except socks). I used to hang clothes even in winter, but this year have once again lost my desire to be anywhere near the outdoors in the cold.
- Replace old appliances. We replaced our (original) boiler a few years ago with a highly efficient modern boiler. As the washer and dryer have fallen apart, we’ve replaced them with Energy Star appliances. Same with the fridge and oven a number of years back. We’re hoping to replace the freezer (which is older than me!) soon, with a more efficient model.
- Sacrifice personal comfort in the name of lower energy bills! (See! Being Green is cheaper!!) We don’t have an air conditioner, so that takes care of that. We keep the themostat set lower than most families, and we all wear sweaters and slippers.
- More efficient laundry. We re-wear clothes that are not dirty. (We have a place in our bedroom where we put clothes in that “worn/not dirty” stage. We usually go through two sets of clothes a day because we both usually change before class. The clothes we wear to class usually are not dirty, and have only been worn for an hour or so. My daytime clothes, even if a little dirty, can usually make it through another day before being washed because most days, Wally and Randy are the only ones who see me. We try to only run full loads, to use the shortest wash cycle that’ll get the job done, and to adjust the water level with the size of the load.
- Cloth cloth cloth. We use cloth wherever possible. Napkins, hankies (so much better than paper!), menstrual pads, diapers of course, toilet wipes, shopping bags, gift bags.
- Reuse things as much as possible. When I do get plastic grocery bags, they find a new use as garbage bags, or as shopping bags for my customers. Or to pack orders in before putting them in a box. We use the cardboard that enters our house as art material, or as thin but sturdy layer for something. Of course nothing fabric gets thrown away around here. Plastic bags (zipper ones) get washed until they sprout holes.
- Avoid plastic as possible. I don’t drink out of plastic any more. We avoided it for a time in toys.
- Natural fibers. I have become almost obsessive about this since starting with cloth diapers. I really cannot wear manmade fibers any more, they ick me out. I have a few in blends (especially lyrca) and my winter coat is a poly. I still wear fleece on occasion, and will really never give up my hiking clothing (all man-made). But the stuff I wear on a regular basis – all natural. Cotton, linen, wool, hemp. Mmmmm. Wally, too, is in largely natural fibers, with the exception of a few outfits which were gifts. I think the vast majority of Randy’s clothing is natural, too, but he’s less picky than I am.
- Use natural or handmade personal care items, like soap and lotion. I use baking soda instead of shampoo. Randy uses handmade shampoo bars from Prairieland Herbs. We use soap, lotion, etc. from there, too.
- Use natural or homemade cleaning products. I do use bleach, which I don’t think does the environment any favors, but beyond that, we use largely natural stuff. (We are continuing to finish up a few bottles here and there of the old icky stuff.)
- I don’t use makeup or hair products. I don’t do this because I’m “earthy” or anything. I was always an occasional make-uper. I’ve just stopped entirely now. And ever since I realized that no amount of product was going to give me full, curly hair, I stopped using hair products. I’ve recently considered buying hairspray again for use when we have performances and I roll my hair into 40s sausage rolls, which really do need spray to stay in place.
- Eat organic. We do about 75% organic right now, locally grown as possible.
- Live Healthy lives to cut down on our use of the medical system and all its waste.
- Cut down on gasoline use! I consolidate errands, we try to avoid unnecessary trips. We choose electric over gas powered outdoor machinery, as well – lawn mower (our primary mower is acually a reel mower – talk about energy efficient!), for example. In the warmer months, Wally and I try to walk or ride bikes instead of driving as much as possible. I’m hoping to increase my stamina on the bike this year to enable us to get to the library and back.
- We used to garden, but I’m not sure that one really counts here, lol. Our garden was in a horrible spot – our yard. I’m a great gardener, but our yard does not get enough sun to sustain vegetables or fruits. We tore out the garden in favor of Wally’s playset this fall, so we will not be gardening this year, except for a few pots and my thriving herb garden. I’ll be looking for a new spot for the veggie garden (like the neighbor’s yard? Or maybe the space between the sidewalk and the street?).
- We are lazy homeowners when it comes to lawn care. We don’t water. We’re actually slowly replacing our Kentucky Bluegrass with native groundcovers like clover, so eventually we won’t even have to mow. Sweet.
- I’m sure there are other things.
- No Teflon! We have one teflon pan, but it never gets used. We need to replace it. With something non nonstick. (would tha tmake it stick?)
It’s funny, reading back over this list. Some of them are things I’ve just always done. Some of them are things we started doing out of financial motivation. Some of them are things we started because it only made sense. Some of them are new additions, added as we have become more aware of the impact of simple choices. Some are not radical at all, some are extremely radical. Interesting.
Ideas for My New Project
- Composting. I used to be a super composter, but then we lost the small container we used to hold the day’s compost stuff in the kitchen, and I stopped. A few years ago. So I could start doing this again.
- Vermicomposting. I’ve always wanted to do this, but am not in love with the idea at the present time. Maybe better for when Wally’s old enough to help/participate/benefit from the experience.
- Buy things from people I know. I got to thinking about this today. I could try to, as much as I can, buy only things that are made by people I know, or at least buy them from people I know. Or, failing the “people I know” part, at least from “people.”
- Get rid of our plastic food storage containers and switch to glass. Yikes, expensive. We’d have to keep the square Tupperware for camping (it goes in the cooler to keep the water out of our cold food.)
- Raw foods. I was all excited/inspired to go raw part time about a year ago and lost the fire before I really got started.