Monday, April 21, 2008

taking stock on Earth Day

Earth day seems like a good time to take stock of what I do, and would like to do, in regards to taking care of this planet. One of the things I miss about living in California is the widespread emphasis on taking care of the environment. We were no Seattle, but it was WAY better than here. Anyhow...

First of all, I am cheap and usually broke, so this actually helps in the whole environmentally friendly thing. I've always bought many of my clothes used, reuse and repurpose things all the time (why buy boxes or padded envelopes for shipping when I can reuse? And I, and many future generations, should never have to buy a gift bag thanks to the stash in my attic...) and get most of my books from the library. I've always recycled (when I worked in an office without recycling I'd take the papers home and recycle them at home!). I keep my heat temperatures low and my airconditioning temp high, and would do this even more if my husband didn't sweat profusely in the summer and wear shorts all winter. I used cloth diapers for The May Queen (and LOVED them! I would be happy to regale you with their greatness if you're interested... e-mail me). We've always used cloth napkins and shunned paper plates. When I'm done with something I pass to a friend or a charity as much as possible.

Recently I've begun using my own canvas bags - all of which I already had from various conferences, etc - when shopping (when I remember to take them in to the store! Keeping them in the car has helped. A little) and using rags instead of paper towels 98% of the time (I've hidden the paper towels behind the rags, so I have to really work to get to them). I've placed jars full of water in my toilet tanks to lessen the amount of water used each time we flush. I've bought CFLs to replace my lightbulbs as they die (but i really need to find the ones that look like little flames, as many of the lights in my house require those). When replacing appliances we've purchased energy star ones. I'm not leaving the computer on 24 hours a day. I'm buying recycled office paper. I'm using more natural cleaning products (hello, white vinegar!).

But there are things I'd like to add to my list. I'd like to stop using chlorine bleach. I'd like to move to all organic lawn and garden fertilizer, weed and pest control. I'd like to buy more organic and locally grown food. I want to look into solar panels for my roof. I'm also working on giving up soda. Because even though I recycle the cans, wouldn't it be better if I didn't use them at all? (and really, soda is just terrible for me, so giving it up would be good for the planet AND good for me. Which really, I suppose, is the point, isn't it? It's all much, much better for me, and for The May Queen, and for the generations that follow... and look, I'm getting to the heart of this post, and it's all in a parenthetical...)

How about you? What are you doing? What would you LIKE to do?

26 comments:

niobe said...

One member of my household (who shall remain nameless) is vigilent about making sure that we do almost everything on your list. (except the CFLs, which he says -- though I'm not sure if this is true-- are dangerous to dispose of because they contain mercury)

carrie said...

I love this! You know, even here in Seattle, we can all be doing more and the more I talk about it the easier it gets!

Sarcasta-Mom said...

There are way to many things I'd LIKE to do....

By the way, I love your new blog design :)

Julie Pippert said...

Awesome post!!

You are so right, too, reducing consumption is every bit as important as recycling, maybe more so.

Being broke is a good motivator. I know. :)

I love my CSA for food. I'm happy to be using all natural products in the house and outside.

The big bonus to not using harmful chemicals on your lawn (outside of to the water table and so forth) is that suddenly, you get more beautiful wildlife.

We have so many butterflies and birds. It's awesome and the kids love it.

I have a consultation this week about turning my yard into a wildlife habitat, officially.

(LOVE the new look!)

Mad said...

I wrote a post similar to this one last September and had many of the same things on my list. I can say that this weekend was the first real Spring weekend here b/c I was able to use my clothesline again after such a long, snowy winter.

Niobe: I'm not sure on this but I'm pretty sure that I read at Mouse's place that there is more mercury used in the creation of incandescent bulbs than there is in CFLs. I'm not sure where she got the info but I'll bet it would be pretty easy to search it.

Amanda said...

I am trying. We went down to one car, we walk in the spring and summer, we buy locally and we recycle. I am still trying to figure out the water dilemma. Our city water isn't safe to drink, plastic bottles are wasteful and dangerous and the water coolers expend additional electricity.

I am going to switch to natural cleaning products.
Great post!

womaninawindow said...

Ah, I remember the Earth Days of years ago when no one seemed to notice, except the kids at school, and it would be some lip service thing. And although I am happy, happy that more people are doing things, thinking more clearly, I'm a little concerned about the vogue of being green. I hope it's not out in a couple years, like botox or capris! (Yea, I'm a little grouchy about the vogueness...looks like you're a real greeny at heart!)

womaninawindow said...

OH yes, and I'm wondering too about the safe disposal of these new light bulbs. It is going to be law in Canada for everyone to change over, with old bulbs no longer being available in a few years. I'm wondering if anyone is thinking disposal through!

Victoria said...

Great post! I posted an interview with my Boy today on this subject. We're doing nearly all the things you mention...but we need to still do more. We stopped using plastic baggies, we moved to cloth napkins, we never use paper plates. My moves are now more with our school and my company. I've joined the "Green" committees for both. We're working instituting a "Trashless Tuesday" at school lunch.

Chantal said...

Great Post, I did one similar (great minds think alike). I have a source for organic fertilizer/herbicide on mine. The works is so small, every little bit helps :)

the dragonfly said...

I use cloth diapers too...thanks to you! :)

I also use canvas bags for shopping (seriously, not only does that mean I'm not getting plastic, but they're also so much easier to carry and won't break if they're too full!) and cloth napkins. And I essentially gave up soda about six weeks ago. There were a couple mornings I had to get up very early (think 4:30 am!) after late nights, and since I don't drink coffee I stopped to buy a soda. But seriously, I feel so much better without all that sugar and caffeine!

Ah, I'm rambling...sorry. I have to add, though, that I love your new look!

Alpha DogMa said...

I do most of what you do, but I'm pretty much addicted to chlorine bleach and PineSol. I don't clean very often so when I get around to it I NEED to call in the big guns.

I can usually convince myself to do green things that are frugal (library, recycle, thrift store), but I haven't made the leap to solar panels, or bio-diesel vehicles.

I also try to make one vegetarian meal per week -- I forget why this is a green measure (something about animals as methane producers?).

Kathryn said...

Oh, oh, oh!!! I love your new look! I think it is fabulous! It looks great!!!

I love this list. There is so much more I need to be doing. Great reminder!

Amy Y said...

Great post! I did a similar one today, but just read this so I swear I wasn't trying to be a copycat! THanks for the great ideas, though!

Hey Teach! said...

You put us to shame! We are trying to be better but have so much more to do. The biggest new thing is we are TRYING to cut down on the paper towels. I actually threw a bottle in the wrong container today and thought "Great, it's Earth Day and I'm putting plastic in the garbage!".

Great post and it just reminds me how much more we need to do.

Christine said...

we do most of these things regularly. but like AD i use pine sol with a passion.

i know! i gotta switch soon!

(i'm truly sorry i haven't been a round lately. it has a been a crazy week with the puppy!

Family Adventure said...

I want to move to buying more organics, in line with our giving up pesticides for the yard a few years ago. I hate the thought of all the pesticides we feed our children on a daily basis.

I too have moved to bringing my bags to the grocery stores, and it works out well - when I remember them. :)

I'm still loving the new look.

Heidi

Beck said...

My husband is in charge of Enviromentally Sound Living for our household. The primary change that I'm begrudgingly making is agreeing to hang at least SOME of the laundry out on the clothesline. Bah.
(and like you said, being broke is REALLY quite enviromentally friendly!)

another good thing said...

I agree with the canvas bag idea- I'll start today.
Oh and yesterday, the grocery store gave me brown bags decorated by a local class with global and earth pictures advising me to SAVE THE WORLD.
I felt powerful carrying those bags.

Magpie said...

I want to start a compost heap - and I think I will. I just have to convince the husband.

E said...

Our kids are constantly urging us to do more. And they are right. So are you. I need some kind of easy list...do these three things. I need help getting started...

Alex Elliot said...

My husband and I try our best, but we have a lot of room for improvement.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Funny you should mention this, because I was directed to a You Tube video (about 20 minutes worth) that made me re-think how I live entirely! I am going to be less "stuff" oriented and go back to how we were living 8-10 years ago when we had more time for each other and had much less. And bring on the vinegar for the multi purpose cleaner!

susiej said...

Painted Maypole, I LOVE your new site. It's gorgeous. You did good!

Organic cleaning supplies... helping the rivers, and slowing down on buying toys. It's all junky toys, it seems!

LaskiGal said...

I am so with you. We are really trying to "go green and toxic free"--I blogged about it a few times earlier this year.

It is working well--from taking our own bags to the grocery story to keeping lights off, heat and air low,energy efficient appliances/light bulbs, more natural cleaners (we'll phasing out all the ones with harsh chemicals). The list goes on. And you are right, it really hasn't been too difficult.

The one thing I really want to do is move to cloth diapers. YES, I am e-mailing you about this :)

GREAT JOB GOING GREEN!!!

WILLOBIE said...

Thou Painted Maypole,

That exchange of insults between Hermia and Helena is one of the most delightful moments in Shakespeare's most delightful plays. I see MSND every chance I, most memorably at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre at Navy Pier and the Kenneth Branagh version many years ago at a Chicago drama festival. It seems that Hollywood takes a crack at the play every decade or so, the most notable being the one where a very young Mickey Rooney plays Puck opposite Victory Jorey's Oberon and more recently, the one where Stanley Tucci plays Puck with Kevin Kline as Bottom.

Then there is the opera by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. After seeing it on Public Television many, many years ago, I found out via the New Yorker that the Opera Theatre of St. Louis was doing it, with Derek Lee Ragan (countertenor) as Oberon, a part written for Alfred Deller. I got tickets, attended the opera and have been a subscriber to OTSL ever since.

Willobie