What We Do To Make Things Greener

Today is Earth Day, and it gave me pause to reflect on things that we do around our household to be environmentally conscious:

  • Use CFL bulbs – Most lamps and overhead lights in our house have CFL bulbs. We just put a new lamp in the nursery the other day, and I insisted that we purchase a CFL bulb. Luckily, Meijer (our local grocery store) had them on sale for 50% off to celebrate Earth Day so on top of being good for the planet, we saved money too!
  • Use our energy saving washing machine – When we moved in, we debated whether to get the less expensive traditional washer or the more expensive energy and water saving washer. We opted for the more expensive type, and it definitely uses a lot less water and energy. In fact, it will probably pay for the difference many times over depending on the life of the machine.
  • Use reusable shopping bags for groceries – Not only do they reduce plastic consumption, the great thing about these is that they fit as much as normally goes in 2-3 plastic bags, so instead of lugging in 8 or 9 bags a week, we typically fit just about everything in our 3 reusable bags.
  • Use a programmable thermostat – We had one when we moved in, but if we hadn’t, I would have put one in anyways had there not been one.
  • Set the thermostat lower in the winter – We’ve dialed down to a maximum temperature of 68. While it can be colder, we have learned to make sure to keep our sweatshirts handy to bundle up.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle – Our city just began to participate in Recycle Bank, which was just featured on Oprah’s Earth Day show today. In addition to taking more types of products than any recycling program I’ve seen (as an example they take plastics 1-7, not just 1-2 like most recycling), they partner up with local and national merchants to offer rewards based on how much you recycle. As an example, you can ‘purchase’ gift cards to various restaurants or retailers like Target. They have a widget that keeps track of how much or recycling to date weighs, how many trees we’ve saved, and how many gallons of oil we’ve prevented used, but it was wreaking havoc on my site. Perhaps I’ll attempt to incorporate it when I re-design the site later in the spring.
  • Use containers for lunch – I take my lunch in a re-usable bag, and also have Rubbermaid containers for my sandwich, fruit, and carrots. We made the switch after realizing the cost, both to the environment and to our pocketbook, of using multiple plastic bags every day.
  • We added insulation to our attic – This reduces the amount of heat and air conditioning we need, and saves us money.
  • Borrow books from the library – Instead of buying lots of books that I read once, maybe twice, I’m using something that will get repeated use.
  • Wasting less food – We rarely let food go bad, wasting resources for food that’s never eaten. I used to be a lot worse at this when I was single and living alone.
  • I have a water bottle at work – I bought a stainless steel water that I re-fill at work instead of taking a bottle of water.

There is room for improvement. I would like to do other things as well, including:

  • Using natural fertilizer – I use the traditional fertilizer to keep our lawn green and weed free, but I’d like to switch to a more natural solution. Right now, they’re quite price prohibitive and not as effective, but I’m sure time will help with both of these.
  • Use more natural cleaners – Especially with baby on the way, some of the harsh cleaners are also not the best for the environment
  • Cut out paper towels – Right now, we use paper towel for cleaning and a lot of everyday usage. I hope that in a year from now I can say that we have drastically reduced our consumption of paper towel
  • Reduce our battery consumption – This one could be tough. We’re expecting the baby in a few weeks, and everything used to entertain the baby seems to run on batteries, and what I’m finding is that they all say not to use rechargeable batteries. I’m not sure why, but have started looking into this. I would dread having to buy the amount of batteries that I envision needing, only to have them be single use.

Overall I’m happy with our efforts to ‘go green’ though I know that there is a lot more that we could be doing.