Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day Post

We are always trying to be more mindful about the choices we make. Which is one reason why I like the idea of One Small Change.  It's never too late to start making a difference, so why not do it a little bit at a time?

After I wrote this post, I realized it sounded like the reusable bags were the first and only thing we had done.  So I thought it might be good to share all that we are doing, attempting to do, struggling with and are definately not doing to reduce our impact on our environment.

  • We use a "green" dry cleaner and always return the hangers.
  • We buy milder and organic soaps, shampoos, conditioners and lotions.
  • We could make better choices with our household cleaning products.
  • We've been hand washing our dishes for almost a year.  I would like to say it was to lessen our impact, but it's because we haven't had a working dishwasher during that time.  In our previous home, we always used the air dry function on our dishwasher with the intent of conserving energy.  When we do purchase a new dishwasher for our new place, the air dry function will be very important to us.
  • I use small re-usable plastic bottles for all of my "fluids."
  • I leave a re-usable coffee mug and grocery bag at my client's office that I use when I'm there.
  • Carpooling - I take a shuttle to the airport and share rides at my client site when we have multiple people on a project.
  • Combine and order errands to minimize miles driven.
  • I do still buy plastic water bottles when I am travelling.  I think bringing a reusable bottle would be better, but the TSA checkpoint has been a mental block until a few days ago.
Re-cycling and Re-using:
  • We recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum.
  • We reuse grocery bags and food storage containers.
  • We use the plastic shopping bags we do have to collect doggie poo.
  • I check consignment shops first when looking for new clothes.
  • We have reusable water bottles that we use around the house and when we're out for local errands or events.
  • We are migrating to non-plastic food storage and haven't purchased any new containers in over a year.
  • We piled our alpaca manure over the winter and have started using it in the flower beds on our property.
  • Wear clothes and use bath towels multiple times before washing.
  • Our trash bin is mostly empty each week, but our recycling bin is quite full sometimes.  Which makes me think we can make better choices about the packaging that comes with the products we purchase.
  • We buy local and organic as much as possible.
  • We buy in bulk as much as possible.
  • We buy from farmer's markets when they are open, May to October.
  • We are looking for other options for local, organic, food during the off-season, October to May.
In the House:
  • We turned the heat down and wore more sweaters and blankets in recent winters.
  • In Albuquerque, we installed ceiling fans so we did not need to use the swamp cooler during the summer.
  • We bought a low water washing machine when we moved into our new place.
Future Plans:
  • Planting an organic garden.
  • Purchasing a freezer, so we can buy local, organic meat in bulk as well as store the produce from our garden and local farmer's markets.
  • Harvesting rain water.
  • Installing solar and/or wind power.
  • Adding insulation and improving seals on our doors and windows.
  • Installing more ceiling fans.
  • Building a compost bin for food and yard waste.
  • We have a clothes line in the back yard, so I am thinking about line drying our clothes on warmer days.  This will be interesting since we live in a farming area and sometimes the aromas are quite earthy.
Here's a great list from my cousin who is especially awesome at living lightly.

  • compost
  • recycle (we throw away one small bag a week partly because we are vegeterian so we compost so much and also because we buy a lot of our grains, pasta, honey, herbs in bulk where we bring our own container)
  • Make at least one vegeterian meal per day.
  • Save AC condensation water, rain, and shower water to water plants. I grow my own organic veggies and herbs so I use a lot of water, all recycled.
  • Flourescent light bulbs
  • Unplug a lot of your appliances, electronics...never leave your computer on
  • Support local farmers
  • When purchasing anything, think of how it was made and which materials are more renewable
  • Make your own beans (bpa is in all the canned stuff) and freeze them
  • Pack your lunch in a cooler and use glass or steel containers.
  • Don't buy bottled water
  • My husband bikes to work/school and I have a small car.
  • Plant native plants that do not require as much water
  • Set your heat/AC on a timer so that it's not always working full blast especially when you are not there
  • Install low-flow shower heads and toilet thingies.
  • Why always flush? Whats the saying "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down."
  • Put a timer in your shower
  • Use curtains to filter light when its hot and to keep drafts out when its cold
  • Bring your own bags shopping everywhere, not just the grocery store.
  • Don't forget to turn off your lights
  • Don't use detergents and soaps with chemicals in them...they end up in our rivers. You can purchase chemical free ones from most stores, buy it in bulk at others, or make your own :)
  • AND educate others :)
  • etc....etc...etc...there is so much you can do, but nothing happens overnight, especially with a budget. We re-budgeted our funds and got rid of cable so that we could grow our food and the rest we buy from companies that don't have crap in it.
  • There are some great resources out there to make your house more energy efficient. You can contact your local gov't utilities department for an evaluation. We got the materials we needed for our shower head and for our rainbarrels for free from the city.
  • Check out your local extension office to learn about native plants and gardening. You don't have to live in a hole in the ground to make a difference. I feel like it's all about trying.  Every little thing counts, when you think about how many households there are. All these chemical free items will someday be a little cheaper if more people buy's already happening.
Finally, here are links to One Small Change, Hip Mountain Mama and No Impact Man for more ideas on how to lessen your impact on our environment.

Do you have anything to add?  What successes and failures have you had?  I would love to know what other people are doing.

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22nd.

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