Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Going Green: Small Steps You Can Try Too

So far today I've did some cleaning, went grocery shopping, and did some laundry, all of which have me thinking about the small things we're trying to do every day. Here is our list so far, leading up to my favorite:
10) Energy Saving Light Bulbs- we bought the cheap 3 for $4 ones at Ikea and put them everywhere they would fit.
9) Natural Cleaning Products- I try to use things like Simple Green, Clorox Green Works, and even a water-vinegar solution for cleaning windows and mirrors. I realized I was putting harsh chemicals on things that Eli always touches and often ends up licking. Yikes. Besides not putting caustic substances around my family and down the drain for others to deal with, we're supporting good products.
8) Line Drying Laundry- We don't even have a yard, but we do have a walk-in closet in a spare bedroom where I can fit this great drying rack from Ikea which can hold a whole load of laundry. Apparently, while running, the clothes dryer uses the most energy of any appliance, not to mention that evaporation is free. If something needs to be wrinkle-free, just let it tumble for a few minutes to get steamy and then hang it.
7) Food Storage Containers- I try not to use plastic bags for snacks and lunch bags, but rather a reusable plastic container. I've even thought of bringing them to restaurants for leftovers rather than using their Styrofoam containers that go to waste after one use. Avoid plastic with the recycle #7 as this type can leach chemicals into food.
6) Organic Milk- Organic everything isn't necessary or economical, but I figure if I can choose one thing to switch out for, it's Eli's whole milk. He drinks so much of it and it's healthier with it's Omega 3's that I feel like it does make a difference.
5) Not Idling- Some moms here in Utah, worried about the health of their children considering how bad the air pollution is have started a group called Utah Moms For Clean Air. They are all very educated and high in society so they are able to make lots of changes around here, like outfitting school buses with devices to make them run cleaner. They also have a "no idling" campaign going on in some local schools. This means, when possible, turn your car off. This isn't always possible at stop lights, but we've all been the first person to a red light, sat at the bank drive-through, or waited for someone in the car. In modern cars, restarting your car causes the same pollution as idling for 10 seconds. If your stop will be longer than that, turn it off, besides, we all watch the traffic lights to see when we can go anyway.
4) Make It Yourself- When you need something, like dinner, a new toy, or a present to give away, put your own creative energy to work, rather than getting in the car, spending extra money, and throwing away excess packaging. Look around your house and see what you can do. Besides, more than likely, home-made food is healthier, and home-made toys and gifts have more love in them. I love giving food as a gift. Everyone likes food and you're not cluttering up their house. I think I'll now include a picture of my proudest work: Eli's play kitchen, made of scavenged cardboard boxes, contact paper, hot glue, coasters, and fabric remnants. Here's a link to buy the blue print from the genius woman who came up with it.
3) Reusable Grocery Bags- I bought five canvas grocery bags and after doing the math I think it will take 1 year for them to pay for themselves after getting the 5 or sometimes 10 cent credit per bag at the grocery store. In the mean time, we're keeping hundreds of plastic bags from the landfill or from needing to go through the recycling process and I have sturdy bags that hold much more and have long enough straps to haul all the week's groceries on my shoulders as I carry Eli up to the 3rd floor. All grocery stores these days sell reusable bags, I know you've seen them. Most importantly, you must remember to bring them, so keep them visible and bring them back to the car whenever you go out. We're finally getting good at that.
2) Water Bottle- Everywhere I go I must carry a mom bag with diapers, snacks, drink, and toys, so adding my Sigg water bottle isn't even a burden. Even Brian keeps one on his desk at work. I never end up having to stop and buy a drink, ever. I don't use Styrofoam water cups at restaurants and it reminds me to drink. I don't have to buy bottled water and haul it up to the 3rd floor in my canvas bags either. Most importantly, we don't pay for water and then throw away a plastic bottle after one use. You just empty it when you get home and let it air dry and it's good for days without a cleaning, to do which you will need a bottle cleaner.
1) Ride Your Bike- Here's my favorite. I love the feeling when I get somewhere on my own energy, especially if I would have used the car otherwise. Eli loves riding, I'm burning calories, not fossil fuel, it's free and FUN.
There we go. Those are the things I can think of doing without going crazy buying solar panels, new appliances, hybrid cars, etc. Sorry this one's so wordy, I'm obviously zealous.

1 comment:

Brian, Helena & Eli said...

Okay, obviously I'm the only one interested