May 15, 2008

Shades of Green

"C'mon, Neal... let's go....let's go!"

There's lots of talk about the environment and being "green" these days, which I definitely think is a good thing. While we don't have children, I do worry about what we are doing to our environment and how it will effect future generations. We are such a wasteful society. Everything is about convenience. All it takes is one trip to a landfill to see that people are oblivious to what happens to the things they toss out on a daily basis.

We have been green, in various shades, for many years now. We do a lot of things that I know our friends and family don't do, but there is still so much more we can and should do. One of the easiest things to do is to recycle. We recycle everything we can. What our trash company doesn't pick up from our curbside bins, we take to a local drop-off site. That usually includes cardboard, certain plastics and glass. The weekend recycling trips are a joy for the dogs because that means they get to go for a ride. When Neal starts loading the boxes, the dogs start pacing. When he picks up his keys, they pace more and start whimpering. When he asks if they want to go for a ride, they rush to the door, wait for the command, then scramble out to the car.

Recycling is an important step in preserving our planet, but being aware of our purchases and their impact is first and foremost. Over the years, I have become more and more conscientious about what we bring into our home, from clothing to prepackaged foods to laundry products. It's amazing how much packaging and fluff we pay for in the name of marketing. Every time I shop, I look to see if the packaging is recyclable or made from recycled materials. If it's not, many times I will not buy the product or I'll look for an alternative.

In addition to recycling, we do other things on a regular basis that lessen our impact on the environment. Some of them include:

  1. turn off lights when we leave a room, or use only natural light when it's sunny out.

  2. turn off the water while brushing teeth, washing dishes, or shaving.

  3. hang clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer.

  4. only run the clothes washer or dishwasher with full loads.

  5. replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones in most of our fixtures.

  6. compost our food waste and yard waste in our homemade compost bin.

  7. repair items that break instead of replacing them. For things that can't be repaired, like some electronics, we take to an appropriate recycling facility.

  8. buy local produce and products when available.

  9. use our own canvas or cloth bags for shopping instead of ones from the store.

  10. donate no-longer-needed items to charity or post on our local Freecycle list.

  11. use every last bit of something like lotion, toothpaste or salad dressing before disposing of the container. In some cases, we will reuse the container if possible.

  12. use our own water bottles instead of buying bottled water.

  13. reuse bread bags and produce bags for dog and cat poop scooping.

  14. take short showers (at least I do!) using a low-flow shower head.

  15. use less than the recommended amount of laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent with excellent results.

  16. take hazardous wastes, old batteries and expired medications to the appropriate disposal facilities.

  17. buy cage free eggs in cardboard, not Styrofoam, containers.

  18. buy seafood and meat from the USA, whenever possible. This is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

  19. We have three toilets in our house. We replaced one of them with a low flush, high efficiency model and use that one as much as possible.

  20. buy items in bulk that we use often.

I'm sure there are other little things we do that are considered green, but that's the first 20 that came to mind. I would like to see us do more... like using cloth instead of paper towels, plugging our appliances into power strips and turning off when not in use, more cooking from scratch and eating at home, growing a vegetable garden, using homemade cleaning products. Some things take more time and effort than others, but every little step can add up to make a huge impact. What are you doing to leave less of an environmental footprint on our planet?


Anonymous said...

that is something that surprised me once we got on a green roll - once you started doing some of it, it just began to make more sense to do more of it...and then as we became more used to our new habits, we started doing even more that that - a snow ball effect for the best reasons! and now the green things that were a bit tricker to remember or do are more convenient and time-consious that the traditional ways of doing things...well, in some cases :)
yay for us all!

Lilla said...

Right you are! It's all about developing new habits and ditching the old ones. Just takes a little extra effort and consciousness in the beginning. Good for us all indeed!