Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Missed Earth Day

Well, I didn't forget about it or anything, but we didn't do anything special for it either. In a stroke of unfortunate irony, Beastling 2 had a field trip which required a fully disposable lunch rather than the completely reusable set-up he normally carries. I feel kind of lousy about that, but the truth is, it's not what you do on that one glorified green day that counts, it's what you do on the other 364 days that really matters.

There are some things that we do here at the homestead that are very green indeed and plenty others that need improvement, but overall, we are inching toward a greener lifestyle.

I am switching over to CFL bulbs as my traditional bulbs burn out. I love them - they take a bit of getting used to, sure, but after a few days, you don't notice the difference in the color of the light. I actually appreciate the less-yellow cast they give off.

We recycle. Our home recycling takes aluminum, paper, and #1 and #2 plastics, so that goes out front on Friday mornings. My parents' recycling pick-up takes all plastics other than #3 and #6 and tin cans and glass, so those items go home with my mother every Thursday. Our cardboard is packed up and taken to the big school recycling bin and our plastic packaging and bags is taken to the bin at Kroger. Batteries and used CFL bulbs are collected and taken to the hazardous recycling center once a year or so. Mr. Lawyer actually brings home all of his co-workers' plastic bottles...I often think about whether our recycle pick-up workers wonder about our beverage habits. We probably come across as incredibly thirsty folk; he has a big office.

We reuse or rehome. I try to reuse items before putting them in the recycling bin and I try really hard to find a new use for items that cannot be recycled at all. Freecycle is a fantastic way to rehome almost anything - your junk might be another person's treasure. Even broken, unmatched pottery could be a windfall to a local artist making a tabletop mosaic - you never know. Craigslist is another great way to sell or give away goods that others could use.

We avoid disposable lunch products. The kids' lunches almost never contain baggies or other throw-away items. They bring back their plastic silverware, containers, lunch bags, and drink bottles and we wash and use them again.

We conserve where we can. We don't leave the tap running, we turn off lights. We teach the children to do the same. It's small, but it's something.

We buy products in recyclable packaging over containers and wrapping that cannot be recycled. We avoid buying plastic water bottles and do not buy juice boxes, which are not recyclable at all.

We use greener cleaners. I now use vinegar on most everything as well as Oxyclean, both of which are environmentally acceptable. I now own a Shark floor steamer which takes only hot water. We are not completely virtuous in this area, but we have made some big strides over the past few years.

But there is more that we need to start doing...

Composting. I am this close to getting a composting bin. But I haven't taken that plunge yet. I am almost certain that when I do I will wonder why I didn't do it earlier.

Use Reusable Shopping Bags. Actually I have a number of them and I do try to use them, but I don't always remember to take them in or have them with me when I make a pit stop at Kroger. I will say the plastic bags we do get are all recycled or reused, but that's not really good enough. The paper bags we get are used for storing our paper to be recycled.

Avoid paper products. We do use paper towels and I doubt that will ever fully end, honestly, but we use less of them. We could use even fewer, though. Fewer paper napkins, too. I will say I have no intention of getting rid of toilet paper in this house. Yes, I know it can be done, but I have limits. We also use disposable diapers, which guilts me to no end, but it is what it is.

Truly the list is endless, there are so many things you can do to green up your life. Even seemingly tiny things add up over time. Multiply that effort by millions of people and it's not such a small effort anymore.

Check out The Green Guide for more ideas on how to make your lifestyle more friendly to our earth.

This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

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