just so i start off on a positive note, here are some things we do in our household ::
- recycle ... almost obsessively.
- wash our clothes with cold water (except for the towels and sheets, which get washed in hot water).
- compost + grasscycle.
- change our light bulbs to CFLs.
- turn down the thermostat.
- keep lights off as long as possible and turn them off when they're not necessary.
- when the wallet allows it i try to buy organic + local produce.
- donating unused/unwanted items to friends and charity.
- gradually going paperless for bills + statements (i have to admit i'm a little bit paranoid about not having a paper trail of my finances).
- carry around reusable shopping bags (i also reuse produce bags numerous times).
- drive a prius ... actually, rupert drives the prius.
- hang clothes out to dry when it's warm (but i only have one clothes drying rack and ian's basketball hoop so there's a limit to how much i can put out at one time).
- during the summer we grow a few vegetables and herbs ... and now rupert can use some of my very own compost to keep the plants healthy.
- instead of giving gifts we've been donating to the recipients' (or our) favorite causes.
- check out books from the library instead of buying them.
like most people, i recycle because it's simple and it makes me feel good. but something i read on treehugger made me realize i'm going about this all wrong :: reduce, reuse, recycle is listed in order of importance, which means i'm focusing on (and sitting on my high horse about) the least important part of household conservation.
there's more i should be doing instead of relying on recycling to be the easiest and best thing i can do at home. in fact, i should be striving to reduce the amount of regular garbage and recycling that leaves my house. that means i need to create less waste in general, and to achieve that i should be consuming less of everything.
so, here are things i plan to do to reduce my intake of resources and to reuse items i already have ::
- after i get through my stash of sponges, start using the kids' old washclothes to wash the dishes that don't go in the dishwasher.
- figure out how to use baking soda + vinegar for my cleaning needs.
- sew up some cloth napkins and stop using paper napkins.
- reduce the number of paper towels i use by switching to rags for clean-ups (i already use dishcloths for drying), and only purchasing paper towels made from recycled paper.
- stop buying so many individually wrapped/packed snacks + drinks.
- replace plastic reusable containers with glass ones.
- be much more careful about my water usage.
- switch from liquid body soap to bar soap (to cut down on plastic containers).
- walk more to our local stores.
- finally buy a water bottle for rupert (like mine) so he'll stop asking me to buy bottled water. do you know how guilty i felt buying a case of water at costco on earth day of all days?!
- get a clothesline put up in the backyard.
- sign up for renewable energy sources.
- reduce the packaging on the tagE*blankEs i sell.
- learn more about recycling properly.
- visit second-hand and vintage shops instead of buying brand new all the time.
- no more magazine subscriptions.
most importantly, i have to stop buying so much stuff [i.e., junk]. i really have very little need for more things but i keep buying. it's awful and wasteful and just plain bad. the clutter around our house is causing me stress, too. i look around and i'm fed up with living amidst so many unnecessary objects. i tried to follow the rule "one object in, one object out" but that hasn't worked at all.
in order to make a drastic change in lifestyle and consumption mentality, i'm participating in the buy nothing challenge from crunchy chicken's blog, albeit a month late. it's going to be a real challenge, especially since we'll be traveling to milwaukee mid-month to attend rupert's brother's medical school graduation (that means not buying souvenirs and figuring out an alternative to purchasing a graduation gift). going cold turkey is what i need, though, in order to see the absolute waste of money, time, space, and mental energy caused by unnecessary shopping.
one area in particular has been haunting me :: my scrapbooking hobby. i've been in love with paper since i was a little girl and i don't foresee that changing in my lifetime. my stash of beautiful decorative papers is probably making my house a fire hazard, and yet, i have no intention of getting rid of any of it. i could easily switch to digital scrapbooking, but i'm resisting that change because i like the tactile nature of paper scrapbook layouts. if i'm not going to give up scrapbooking then i need to stop buying so much paper and use it instead of admiring it in it's 12"x12" glory. so, you
heard read it here first folks -- no more buying scrapbooking supplies!
and, looking to the future, some things i wish i could do ::
- reuse grey water.
- get my own hybrid car.
- install solar panels on the roof.
- buy energy star appliances when our current appliances go kaput.
- plant a proper, year-round garden ... and have rupert take care of it (i have a brown thumb).
hmm ... too many of those things require me to buy something. i should probably think of a different kind of future.
i would love to hear what you do in your homes + lives to be more eco-conscious. are there green books/websites/documentaries that you recommend? did anything i wrote above sound ludicrous or wrong? this is one issue i would love to get some feedback on.