Monday, April 14, 2008

Just a little self-inventory...

Today I'm participating in Lotus's Project Support Beauty in Nature.

Now, I will first admit that when I read her first PSBN post I didn't intend on participating. Being "green" was not something I ever thought I was, and simply put, I felt I didn't really have a lot of time to devote to making a major transformation right now.

But after reading her two PSBN posts and those of others, I saw that the changes I made didn't need to move the earth and sun. In fact, I began to take a personal inventory and discovered that a lot of the things we already do are pretty eco-friendly. So the purpose of this post is to show you, too, that taking steps to be more "green" isn't so far out of your grasp.

We were already doing all the following things - most because they were budget-friendly, and others because I was always taught not to be wasteful.

1) We use compact fluorescent light bulbs in all the light fixtures in our house. When we first bought our 95-year-old beauty eight years ago, we were surprised to find active gas lines still running through her walls. Confused? That's because light fixtures haven't been powered by natural gas in oh, 80 years? I'm guessing here. Its long enough anyway that home appraisers and safety inspectors don't check for it. So we slowly swapped out the old fixtures with new, energy efficient ones with the energy efficient bulbs. In each of the bedrooms and the living room we installed ceiling fans. Cuz guess what? These old homes actually do pretty well in keeping cool in the summer, so long as you have a fan to circulate the air.

2) One of the other 56,000 projects we did on our old beauty was to replace the old drafty windows with nice new ones. They're vinyl, low-e and flip inward for easy cleaning (too bad I don't do that more often!). This, combined with #1 alone has saved us hundreds of dollars in heating bills through the five cold winters we've had them.

3) I'm one of those suckers people like to invite to candle parties and the like, cuz I always feel like I have to buy something. At a Tupperware party several years ago I found these sandwich keepers and bought them because they were (compared with everything else) pretty inexpensive but would fulfil my (self-imposed) buying requirement. That was more than five years ago and I still use them. I brought my bagel to work this morning in one. Thousands of plastic baggies have been saved by the selfless sacrifice of these containers. (Their soup mugs are great, too.)

4) One of the perks of my job is that I can work from home periodically. Not only is this nice for the days when I have to run a kid to the doctor's over my lunch hour, but its a nice way to save on gas.

5) I've taught my kids not to litter. Don't take this for granted, people. When you're out for a walk with your three-year-old and he spots a piece of garbage along the edge of the road and says, "Uh oh, Mommy, that's SASSY," try not to freak out when he picks up that piece of garbage and expects to take it home in the bottom of the stroller to throw away. That's a good thing. (We just take Purell with us now when we go for walks.)

6) We recently got rid of our gas-guzzler Suburban. Now, until hybrid SUVs cost less than $50,000+ that's just not an option for us. But what we got in its place is a smaller, more efficient SUV. (We at least need to fit all four members of our family in it and all the "stuff" required by small children.)

7) We recycle. Everything we can. That's just a given.

8) I've started buying eco-friendly cleaners. Even used 'em. And jobs that I used to use paper towels for I now use rags - my hubby's old tees work well. (Shhh. He doesn't know some of them are missing from his drawer yet, but they were ready to retire.)

Pretty good, right? So after considering all this, I decided I needed to go one step further. And while I'm not ready to put my son in non-disposable diapers (I think it'd make me nuts right now), I'm willing to keep taking baby steps.

So...while my office has plastic utensils in the breakroom areas on each floor, I'm not using them. I've brought in my own silverware from an old set I had at home. And I have to have my soda over ice and not out of the can. I used to use the Styrofoam cups they have in the breakrooms, but not any more. I've also found its cheaper to buy a 2-litre bottle of soda and bring that in, which is also more enviro-friendly because it creates less waste.

And my goal before next month's post? To find and start using more eco-friendly disposable diapers. If you have any suggestions for good ones and where to buy them, please let me know!


Suzie said...

Good for you. As my household encreases I seem to leave a bigger carbon foot print. As soon as I can think straight Ill try to be good. And thanks for the tag. I'm a little brain dead today but as soon as I think I'll give it a try.

Kalynne Pudner said...

Oh, boy, I am impressed! And feeling plenty guilty in comparison. Except for the diaper thing -- I used cloth diapers (AND dried them on a clothesline!) for my first four kids. But I have to be honest and admit it was because we were poor, not green. And the washing machine smelled AWFUL (had to run a load of bleach water every week or so).

THopgood said...

I'm so NOT green...I feel guilty about it every day. I'm trying to be better about it. I recycle my plastic grocery bags and use them as garbage bags now...and when I'm just buying a few little things I'll opt for a paper bag instead. Baby steps!

PS- I finished my 7 things Meme! Thanks for the tag!

The Apron Queen said...

TAG! You're it!! You've been tagged by the Apron Queen. Pop on over to here for more info.

Kat said...

This is good - and true, they don't have to be huge things to make a big impact, at all. One thing at a time!

Diapers - these are the best as far as disosables go, but don't know if you can get them here in the U.S. -

Linda said...

Colleen, thanks for stopping by my blog and throwin' your name in. I have always been slow to jump on the green wagon, but your steps do sound do-able. But I want you to read something I wrote about concerning those light bulbs that happened to us; we nearly had a fire. Here is the link:

I started not to mention it, but I would have felt awful if you had had our experience. Sorry to sound like an old mom.