Monday, February 18, 2008

going green

i have been really convicted lately to stop talking about how "cool" it would be to be more environmentally conscious and to start DOING something about it.

my husband and i have talked for years about how our lives impact the environment. actually, i used to think he was obnoxious for bringing it up so much. he wanted to eat organic food way before it was popular or "chic"; he was always fascinated by electric cars and those zip cars you can rent instead of owning one; he talked about wanting to power our car with homemade biodiesel; he really sort of forced me to think about recycling when i didn't want to make the effort. and there are a ton more things i could add here. he was my first educator down this green road.

but with all the education, i approached the subject with a small mind: we don't have the money to just go out and build a "green" house; we can't afford to buy all organic. so i just really pushed it out of my mind. i mean, i talked about how important it all was, or at least nodded my head when other people did. i was moved inside when i watched programs about the polar icecaps melting. i got worried about what condition our planet will be in when my grandchildren come along.

the thing is, it was too easy to be worried and then not do anything. i mean, it takes effort to make changes, doesn't it? and if we are honest with ourselves, we just want to be lazy, shut our eyes, and hope that the problem goes away. but WE have created the problem. so it is incredibly unfair to children everywhere to expect them to bear the burden of the condition the planet will be in when they inherit it.

ok, that's enough deep thinking. so moving on to what i'm excited to share: i was finally moved to action this past week to make some real changes in our life. they are small steps, like the name of our reusable grocery bags, but i am telling myself that if we all make a few changes it really will make a difference. so here's what i'm committing to do--and feel free to ask me how i'm doing from time to time!

1. i'm going to take the plunge and order cloth diapers. we are in a bit of a financial crunch right now, and they take a bit of up-front investment, so i can't do it right away. but within a few weeks, i hope to be able to write a post about them and how great they are!

2. i'm going to attempt to stop using our clothes dryer for most things. i have to get a second line and a couple of those drying racks, but even with a family of 5 i think i can do it. i really have no excuse when the florida sun is so powerful that it dries pretty much anything, including jeans, within a couple of hours.

3. we started a compost, and we are going to try our hand at growing a few vegetables and fruits. we'll see how that goes--the bug challenge in this climate is ridiculous, so i hope it works out okay...

4. we are going to unplug our TV and computer at night.

5. i'm going to stop being lazy about recycling. we recycle, but i don't always feel like checking "is this a 1? a 2?"

6. we just began using cloth shopping bags for grocery shopping, and we've mostly had a good response in the checkout line.

it's a rush to think that maybe, just maybe, my small steps can make a difference. sure, there are lots of people doing lots more than me, but it takes a village, right? i would love to hear your thoughts and ideas if you have the chance...


Karin Hernandez said...

totally with you...been thinking about a lot of the same things lately. i have started using reusable bags in every store i go in and have stopped using paper bags to gather our recycling because even though they are recyclable, they use up trees when they are made. as you know we are headed down the cloth diaper route, so i will share what we learn with that one. the one thing i keep thinking about are the energy saving lightbulbs...i want to start changing out the old ones, but i haven't done it yet.

Pixie said...

Just a word of caution on the energy saving bulbs - they do contain mercury which means they should be recycled at a hazardous waste facility. I stopped using them once I found out because I don't want Preston (or myself until we're done having kids) exposed to it if they break.
If you google "energy saving bulbs mercury" it can give you some info so that you can reach your own informed decision.

My biggest enviro waste is ziploc sandwich bags for lunches. I have seen alternatives for sandwiches but not for the pretzels & other lunch/snacks. Any ideas?

kristi said...

pixie i didn't know about the mercury hazard; i'll have to look into that one. we have already changed out some of our bulbs, but we were planning on doing it little by little because the energy-saving ones cost more (although i remember seeing pretty cheap ones at IKEA but we don't live near one).

we use TONS of plastic bags too, so that reminds me we have been intending on getting reusable sandwich bags. right now we use little plastic containers that hold sandwiches. one idea for pretzels and stuff are those little ziplock plastic containers; they come in all sorts of sizes and would keep everything from getting crushed in a lunch box better than a ziplock.

Michael said...

i need to do a few of these. i have some reusable grocery bags, but i keep forgetting them at home :(

kristi said...

last night i thought of something else i can do: as soon as i finish this project i want to sew some cloth napkins. we use WAY too much paper around our house, and if i pick the right material they will be soft (nothing worse than a crunchy, stiff napkin to wipe against your mouth during dinner). does anyone else already do this?

Amelia Plum said...

The little steps do make a huge impact. The mercury in the CF bulbs is minimal and it only poses a problem if the bulb breaks, so maybe a good idea is to use them where kids are unlikely to knock a lamp over. Cloth napkins are an excellent idea, it's all we use and very easy to do without the paper ones. Green cleaning products are a good switch too, plus they smell better and cut down on indoor air pollution. With cloth diapers one brand you could check out is g diapers. Some environmentalists say cloth vs disposable is a wash when you consider the bleach used to clean the cloth diapers plus you're using water in the wash. I'm not sure of the veracity of this but more power to you if you go cloth. Another easy switch from the plastic baggies, just use tupperware, there are plenty of different sizes to meet your needs and their much easier to clean than reusing baggies. And a great money saver that's environmentally friendly too, don't buy snack packs, juice boxes prepakaged food/drinks for kids. It's cheaper to get a regular juice or pretzels/crackers and put it in a reusable container. This cuts down on waste and saves money.

kristi said...

thanks amelia! i had read about the cloth v. disposables before--about how it ends up hurting the earth both ways. for me, i think i'm motivated to try it because it will be way cheaper for us...and somehow i cringe less using water than i do thinking of all those diapers i throw away sitting at the tip top of a trash heap somewhere. ouch.

i have moments of weakness where i buy the juice boxes (oh so tired in the morning, way easier to pack lunches by just throwing one of those things in there!), but we have found the greatest kid thermoses ever at target; they are stainless steel and have removable straws. they cost $14.99 but last forever--and our son's nickname is "destructo boy" so if it can withstand his maniacal ways it's probably worth the investment.

has anyone else seen those thermoses? i just wish they made one with a straw for grownups, because i don't like regular steel drinking bottles (even though we did just get some of those for christmas).

Krystal said...

I use cloth napkins and I love them! They're so much more useful in terms of wiping off your hands, etc and feel so much nicer too. If you're picking out the material, I'd pick a pattern or something that will hide stains. Mine are white (or rather used to be) so even when they're clean, they don't always look it.

asti said...

I used cloth nappies with Maddie from about 8 weeks until she was potty trained. They are great, especially as you have the nice weather to dry them. Yes they are a bit expensive at the start, but after that it's plain sailing. I used to hate it if I ever had to use a disposable. I used Mother Ease and got them second hand (sounds gross but it's not really, it's quite common here to sell on your nappies - all super clean and looked after, plus it's all about recycling). Found them to be really good. There was a study done here which doubted the 'greeness' of cloth nappies, citing things like use of washing machine, detergent etc. The cloth nappy 'community' was up in arms about this. The study had used the worst case scenario throughout, such as washing everyday at 95 degrees and using a tumble dryer to dry them. Utter rubbish !
By the way have you thought about using washable wipes? If you google washable wipe solution there are loads of lovely recipes with essential oils, or chamomile tea for nappy rash. Have fun!!