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It IS Easy Being Green

April 22, 2008

Go GreenSince buying our first home, I’ve become more and more conscientious about changes Roger and I can make to be less wasteful and more eco-friendly. I’ve outlined some modifications we’ve made already (or have plans to make), and thought that I’d share them with you in honor of Earth Day.

What’s more, I would love to hear what green things YOU are doing. I mean, I figure you’re pretty (or handsome, as the case may be), you’re intelligent, you’re bound to be doing things that haven’t even crossed my radar yet. Tell me about what you’re doing! Here’s my list:

  1. Our electricity plan is generated by 100% wind power (saving enough carbon emissions to be the equivalent of not driving for two years)
  2. We have plans to remodel all three bathrooms, installing low-flow faucets and toilets
  3. Our city has a really awesome recycling program to help reduce waste. In fact, if you’re able to increase your recyclables and decrease your refuse, they’ll give you extra recycling trash carts for free and a smaller refuse cart to use, PLUS a discount on your water/sewage/trash bill. Now THAT is motivating!
  4. We have canvas grocery bags. Though, admittedly, I’ve yet to use them – I do reuse my plastic grocery bags, so I think that counts a little!
  5. Just this week, Roger and I started carpooling (instead of driving separately). We have plans to do this most days of the week (if not all).

Also, here are a few links you may find helpful for living green:

- Green Living - Goods that go easy on the planet
- 10 Green Tips from True Green: 100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin
- MSNBC’s Going Green
- Greenona - Search Green. Go Green.
- TerraPass - Flights dump tons of emissions into the atmosphere - undoing your contribution to global warming is easier than you think.
- Low Impact Living - you can take action
- Buy local produce at a farmer’s market. Find a farmers’ market near you.

So...what ideas do you have?

Comments

1

Well, I live in Vermont. Being green is easier here than NOT being green. We recycle EVERYTHING, compost everything and yes, I totally use to canvas grocery bags, yeppers, I do. And we buy local, right down to our meat and cheese and eggs, not just produce.

And ah, well. Here's the thing: my husband works for a company that kind of competes with TerraPass, so our lives revolve around being green, and whatever we can't reduce, we offset.

Incidentally, at Brighter Planet, you can buy offsets too, for all kinds of things, from weddings to kids to cars. And even more so, you can get a credit or debit card that will offset all of your purchases through BofA. I'm not trying to be smarmy sales lady, but I would be a bad wife if I didn't mention it.

2

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. The three holy R's.

Hub-E and I try our best but I know there's more we can do. Currently we do the following:

*Compost! Compost! Compost! We have a huge pile out in the corner of the yard that is full of egg shells, tea leaves, banana peels, you name it. Of course, most of it is all composted down, now. But we're always adding to it. It's amazing how fast the pile works!

*Use canvas grocery bags when shopping.

*shop at our local farmers market for produce.

*Don't buy bottled water. Just use filtered water in a large *glass* container. (Plastic offgases, you know.)

*Recycle! We only have to put our tiny trash can out every other week, but our huge recycle container gets full every week.

*Buy organic, locally grown, or free trade food as much as possible.

*Use natural cleaning products like vinegar, baking soda, hot water, lemon juice.

*Use wind up alarm clocks instead of electric or battery powered clocks. Less batteries in land fills and less use of electricity.

*Use compact fluorescent bulbs in every light fxiture in the house. They even have dimmable ones now, which is really cool.


What We'd Like To Do Soon:
-Set up a rain barrel
-Use the bus system to get to work (me, starting tomorrow, actually)
-Use earth plaster and milk paint in our house instead of traditional paint (we're going to be using this in our living room in the next couple of weeks)
-Buy hybrid cars when our current ones poop out. Not for a long time, though. Why buy new when what you have still works?
-Build a passive solar house some day.

I'm sure there's more I can't think of right now.

3

1. I bought a Saturn Aura Hybrid, which gets gas mileage more than twice as good as my old Explorer (I shudder to think what my gas bills would be if I still had it).

2. Shop locally for food as much as possible.

3. Using canvas shopping bags--I've reduced our grocery store plastic-bag usage by almost 100%, and I intend to start bringing them to Target and other places.

4. We have a rain barrel set up to help water plants (including fresh home-grown veggies--only a few, but delicious!) and reduce our consumption of public water.

5. A compost pile has helped reduce our garbage and also gives us wonderful organic mulch (since everything I compost is organic) to use on our veggie plants.

6. We redid our bathrooms and installed 1.6 gpf toilets, low-flow faucets, and low-flow shower heads.

7. As lightbulbs die, we're replacing them with the long-life ones.

8. We're about to buy a new washer/dryer that will use both less water and less electricity. I'm also hoping to get a larger drying rack so fewer clothes will need to go into the dryer.

9. Of course recycling! We recycle everything that we can. Our farmer's market has a large recycling center that accepts anything our curbside recycling will not.

10. Stopped buying bottled water and use reusable bottles instead.

I'm sure there's more, but I can't think of it now. I'll be back to read others' comments and get more tips!

4

Hi Chirky,

I just moved from Indiana to DFW and though I think their recycling program is great, I had never paid $20 for the city to come pick up my trash! ... so I'm not sure I call that very motivating :(...

ok just wanted to vent.

I do drive at 60mph at all times to maximize my mileage as well as use compact fluorescent bulbs on all of my high-bulb fixtures (like kitchen and bath). I'm conscious about any and ALL paper used in the house. If I can use a rag instead of a paper towel, I do.

My wife on the other hand... hmmmmmm...

5

I do most of what everyone has listed. (Except compost - I live in a condo, that could get ugly!).

I turn off everything I'm not using, don't leave things on stand-by mode. Including all stereo and computer equipment. My computer stays on most of the time (since it's running programs and accepting faxes all night) but I don't use my printer then, so I shut it off.

I also unplug all of my small appliances unless I'm using them. If you don't use the auto function on your coffee maker, unplug it.

I'm trying to talk to my condo association into solar panels when we redo the roof but so far, the old folks just aren't into it.

6

I'm so proud that I have a list I can give you! I use earth friendly dish soap, laundry detergent, and shampoo. We recycle and have installed whatever those fancy light bulbs are called. I unplug appliances when I'm not using them and I use the short cycles when I do laundry and dishes. And we're going to start flushing our toilets only once a day, including our guest bathroom.
I'm kidding! :)

7

In response to Erica's joke, you wouldn't think a toilet would be something to get excited about, but check out the links for this low flow toilet, it's so cool. Your toilet is your biggest water waster in the house - wasting hundreds of gallons of water a year... all just to flush pee out of the toilet.

Enter the dual flush toilet! This is a very cool invention which I understand has been widely used in places like Europe and Australia for years. It has two flush buttons so you can flush a little water when all you need to do is flush pee, and a second button for a bigger flush when you need to...er flush something else.

AND, working in design, I've got to say that the DualMax by Toto has a very stylish modern look to it, and the two buttons fit together on the top of the tank to form a circle. Nice.

By installing dual flush toilets in your house you can do something great for the environment AND your pocket book. Jes and I hope to make that part of our home renovations as we update and renovate all 3 bathrooms. When we do, we'll have to invite you and Scuba over for a flush!

For more information about DualMax, go to
http://www.totousa.com/consumer_landing.asp and click
on "Toto Innovation", select "Flushing Systems" and then "DualMax".

See also:
http://www.totousa.com/productpage.asp?PID=803

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/03/dual_flush_toil_1.php

8

When I went to Prague 4 years ago they had the dual buttons - it was a half circle w/ 1/3 being for #1 and 2/3 for #2. To this day we still joke about having to go big button.

9

We do several of the things mentioned above and plan to do a whole lot to whatever new house we buy.

If you have kids, going green early in their life is a big plus not only for the environment but your children's health.

Just file that for future reference, Jes. :)

10

Your previous commenters have already given most of my suggestions. I will have to steer RR over here because as you know (or maybe you don't) she's practically ready to become a member of Earth First!, and so I'm sure she has some great ideas.

I would suggest considering a green roof, but whether that would work in Texas hasn't been established yet.

I will say you should look into replacing your windows. Also, consider a tankless water heater.




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