Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our Green House: Reduce

In recognition of Earth Day, which is Friday, I thought I would post some of the things we do around our house to be kinder to the earth. Believe me, I have not turned into a fruity tree hugger- not that there is anything wrong with that- I am a realist. I am never going to have a zero (much less negative) carbon footprint, but there are things I try to teach the kids that I hope will make them more responsible people in general, and help the environment a little too.

This is part one of a three part series. Can you guess what parts two and three are going to be titled?

This is not anything ground breaking people (no pun intended), but here is what we do:

  1. In an attempt to reduce the amount of paper waste we consume, we use cloth napkins at meals as well as kitchen towels for hand drying and cleaning up the counters and table. I still buy paper towels for the convenience of people who watch my children when I am not home, but in general they are only reserved for nasty messes caused by something greasy (think bacon), the dogs, or sick kids. If I use a whole roll in a month I am saddened. We also use real plates, instead of paper. For a larger family I can see the convenience of paper, but when I was growing up, paper plates were reserved for large themed parties. An added benefit of using cloth and real plates in the kitchen is that I am not spending money at the grocery store for paper products. I’m cheap like that.

  1. To further reduce our paper consumption, I pay all our bills electronically. I usually write only two checks a month- one to the preschool and one to the gardener. I had to write an additional check to the parks and recreation department this month because they charge a convenience fee to process your debit card. I thought about going into their office with my three hungry and tired children and paying them their $85 with coins to passively aggressively show my outrage, but I wrote a check instead. I have not stopped receiving paper bills- I know that is the next step, but I am so anal that I fear I will miss one if it is sent electronically, and Patrick is not a fan of cold showers.

  1. Somewhere along the line, my address must have been sold to every catalogue company known to man. I cannot tell you how many unwanted crap catalogues I get in the mail every week. Pottery Barn- I am NOT referring to you. I don’t know why this irritates me so much, but it is a total pet peeve. I have found the greatest website to reduce the number of unwanted catalogues I get: It is totally free (but you can make a donation if you wish) and all you have to do is enter the names of the catalogue you don’t want and they send a stop request to the company on your behalf. I have the site bookmark on my desktop and when a new catalogue comes I take it strait to the computer to enter in catalogchoice. I highly recommend!

  1. We continue to work on reducing energy use and costs by turning off the lights when we leave a room, as well as turning off our electronic toys when we are done playing with them. I try to run the air and heat only when necessary. The dishwasher seems to always be full, so it is easy to run only full loads. There always seems to be laundry to do, but I try to make sure my loads are as full as possible. I would love to line dry sheets and blankets, but V and Patrick have allergies.

  1. In an attempt to reduce the amount of unnecessary chemicals in the house, I am slowly moving toward green cleaning products. I like the Clorox Green line a lot. It is all I use in the kitchen. The spray is great on the table and granite. I have even used it on the cabinets and knobs. I buy big refill bottles at the hardware store so I am not buying another spray bottle each time. Instead of using a rinse agent in the dishwasher, I pour some vinegar into the dishwasher when I start the cycle. It does a better jab than Jet Dry and it is cheaper and natural. I use vinegar and water for mirrors and Method Little Bowl Blue toilet cleaner. Most cleaning is done with washable rags and micro fiber cloths. Unfortunately, I still have a love of (maybe obsession with) Clorox wipes. I use them everyday to wipe down the bathrooms. I am sure there is something greener I could replace them with but I live with boy. Boys are nasty. I like to wipe up nasty and throw it away. I am however, open to suggestions. (Clorox has not paid me for these comments, but I would totally accept a case of their cleaning products if anyone has an in with them).

  1. We have an edible garden. You already know this because I like to blog about it, but it is also a way for us to reduce the amount of pesticide treated produce we buy. The kids love working in the garden and will eat anything they have grown themselves. Even beets. I swear.

  1. To reduce the amount of overpriced fuel we use, I strategically plan my shopping trips so that I am driving as little as possible. This often means running errands on the way to and from Vincent’s school, as that is usually the longest trip I make each week. Patrick who commutes 420 miles per week for work thwarts my efforts, but we have no way around that. This blog certainly isn’t paying the bills!

  1. In general, I try not to buy extra “stuff”. My wardrobe is totally suffering because of this, but I hate clutter. If it something we don’t need, don’t use often, or don’t love, it does not have a place in our home.

  1. I wish I could say our small cozy cottage is a reflection of environmental activism, but that is a product of the economy. Can I still claim it?

  1. Some other things you might want to consider doing to reduce are using handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex, a family cloth instead of TP, carpooling, biking, walking, thrift-shopping, and ladies- check out the Diva Cup. I have to draw the line somewhere, so I don’t use/do any of these things, but I wouldn’t think you were crazy if you choose to. OK- I would think you were crazy if you did the family cloth thing, but otherwise, you are completely normal and super environmentally conscious!

This was long. And it lacked photos of children and food. If you are still here, thanks!

Join me later in the week for parts two and three of Our Green House!


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