Sunday, April 22, 2007

Go Green

Those who are here for knitting content - check back tomorrow. For today, I wanted to talk a little bit about what we can do to take care of our planet.

Earth Day has inspired me to share with you the little ways our household is trying to make a difference.

We switched a few years ago to Green Mountain Energy, and now have 100% wind powered electricity. It costs a tiny bit more than "regular" electricity, but we think it's worth it in the long run.

For a year I walked to work almost every day (living across the street didn't hurt!), and now hubbo and I carpool. This summer we will be getting rid of one of our cars, since one sits in the garage 99% of the time. This helps us economically and reduces the amount of fumes we are putting into our air.

We are slowly but surely switching our lightbulbs over to compact flourescent bulbs.

We use energy star appliances (really, everyone should do this - they are so widely available.)

We use our own canvas bags at the grocery store (simple ones I made, but you can buy similar ones at many places), and refuse bags from other stores as often as we can. I also carry a small bag that compacts into my purse to save on plastic bags.

We recycle almost everything. We usually have no more than 2 bags of trash in a week, and when we have our garden and our compost pile established, that will be even less.

We use tupperware containers, and cheap plastic ware in our lunches that we bring home every day and wash and reuse, instead of filling up the landfill with ziploc bags and plastic spoons.

We plan to insulate our home and put in more energy efficient windows next year, to save on heating and cooling costs.

We have a programmable thermostat - according to the energy star website, this can save you up to $150 a year in energy costs.

When we run the water to get it hot for dish washing, we save the cool water in pitchers in our fridge to try to waste as little as possible.

We do not water our grass. Yes, we're those neighbors with the dead yard. But I refuse to waste water on grass. We're looking into other kinds of grass that require low to no watering.

We have ceiling fans in every room to help with cooling, and keep the thermostat set above (or below in the winter) most people's ideas of comfort.

I hope to put up a clothesline this summer, to reduce our dryer usage.

We have other idealistic plans (including solar panels), but these things are, for the most part, simple things we can do right now to make a difference. Please don't take this post as a "we're better than you - look at all the good things we do" - rather, I hope you find one thing you can do to make a difference today. We all have to start somewhere.

What other things does your family do to keep the earth green?


  1. I have one of those little shopping bags in my purse, too. Plus some sturdy canvas bags in the car for grocery shopping.

  2. Thanks for all the inspiration.

  3. We converted to CFLs, too, and I have 2 canvas bags for shopping - if I forget, I go back to my car while waiting in line or I ask for no bags if I can manage the stuff in my hands. Unfortunately, getting rid of a car is not feasible with our current jobs (my job moved from across the bus station to a location that has NO bus service within 5 miles) but I did get rid of a lower mileage car in favor of a Honda Civic (regular), which gets up to 38 mpg - double what I was getting before. We could use some improvement in trash and water management - we should save our cool water that we run until the water is hot, and we could have a worm box but we don't. We don't have a lawn (the yard is mostly covered in stones for groundcover, although we have a timed sprinkler system. We bring our lunches in permanent glass or plastic containers and use real silverware.

    Good list of suggestions!

  4. Anonymous10:19 PM

    Thank you for all of these practical, easy ideas!! Our state doesn't have much of an energy plan...I had looked into wind power but unfortunately it's not an option here. However, I have just started to take the cloth totebags to the grocery store, instead of those plastic bags they give you that get stuck in every tree or bush. I find that they are much more sturdy and the boxes don't poke holes in them as they do with the plastic.

    I'm hoping to try out those lightbulbs...can you tell me if the lighting is still the warm tone that you get with incandescent light? The regular florescent bulbs have such a green cast.

    We do try to recycle whenever possible, and are riding our bicycles more too.

  5. Anonymous10:22 PM

    I wanted to ask in my previous post if anyone has tried the "green" cat litter that is flushable, and what they think of it?

  6. Anonymous6:57 AM

    Re: flourescent bulbs
    If anything I'd say the energy saving bulbs tend towards a warm yellowish tone. Very pleasant! It depends which brand you use, so shop around.

  7. Debby, you can get the CFLs in whatever tone you want... I'd recommend staying away from the "daylight" ones though - they tend to have the typical florescent cast to them. We use the "green" kitty litter (its wheat-based) and we can flush it. Our experience is that it is a great clumper, but you have to break up the clumps somewhat if you don't want to clog the toilet. We usually just flush the poops and then put the pee clumps in a paper bag and send away... we could probably get away with composting it though since I don't grow veggies yet... hmmm...

    We are doing many of the things your family is and are really enjoying cutting back on our plastic bag usage. I love the look on the grocery packer's faces when we tell them we want everything in our own bags... they get very confused. We are also using cloth diapers and wipes for our baby. Not only are we saving big bucks on diapers (if you go with the "traditional" prefolds you don't have to shell out so much on the cash) and wipes, we are cutting back on our trash as well (packaging and used dipes/wipes). Plus, I'm pretty sure we've had no diaper rashes b/c we aren't putting chemicals right next to our little one's bum :) I'm also telecommuting 3 days a week, so I've reduced my driving mileage by at least 120 miles per week (plus I don't have to take a shower every day :D - save on water!)

    I'm considering moving away from toilet paper, paper towels and sanitary products. We tried the recycled TP and it was pretty rough, so we'll need to go with something a little kinder on the bum (maybe cloth wipes?). But I'm not sure the husband will go for it. He's already been so supportive of my obsession :)

    Thanks for the post!