Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Going Green ... -ish

Everywhere you look there is a push to be more ecologically-mindful ... "green" cleaning products, Happy Meal bags in place of those boxes we grew up with, curbside recycling and re-usable shopping bags.  All good ideas.  And all pretty do-able.  Our family is trying in little baby steps to reduce the carbon footprint our family makes ... but it's not always easy and we haven't always done it very well.

I'm quite certain that we have been responsible for a large portion of the Mesa County landfill due to four kids in diapers.  They haven't named a trash hill after us ... yet.  I think that I would be rather horrified to see all those stinky little diapers in one place!  But ... I just couldn't do cloth diapers.  I tip my hat to you all you moms (and dads) who successfully use cloth diapers.  I used them one day ... maybe even more like one afternoon.  Too wet.  Too stinky.  Too ewww.

But ... now that we are on the brink of diaperlessness (that really should be a word!) I hope to see our garbage cans significantly less full.  That would be a wonderful start to my 2011 ... potty-trained Liddy and no more diapers!  Happy New Year to me!

We also have some kids who really enjoy their showers.  Really.  Enjoy them.  I can already see the need for a timer in the bathroom just so they have an inkling of how long they have been in there ... and they're only seven and eight years old.  What size water tank will we need when we have four teenagers?!?  I, too, love a long, hot shower, but seeing as my actual opportunities to have a shower are sparse (think:  multiples of four) I rationalize that I'm not really using that much that often.  Yeah.  That's not so bad, right?  Right?

Then you take into consideration the fact that we will be hauling our 12th dried-up Christmas tree out the back door ... and maybe we're not looking too green right now.

But, wait ... we are doing our part.  Remember what I said about "baby steps"...

Here are a few of the ways our house is caring for our planet:
  • We have signed up with CRI here in Grand Junction for curbside recycling.  For $2.50 a month, they pick up just about everything.  We have three bins in our garage: paper, paperboard and plastic/tin.  They also take cardboard and glass.  We have seen an enormous change in our trash bags just by being able to recycle all the cereal boxes and pasta boxes.  Most weeks, we are down to one trashcan ... for our family of six.  I highly recommend checking out their site ... or finding something similar in your area.
  • We re-use almost all our plastic bags.  The grocery sacks we use for smaller trashcans in the bathrooms and bedrooms and for dog dirt clean-up.  The plastic bags from store-bought bread, the newspaper and other packaging we use for dirty diaper containment.  We re-use our ziplock bags, too.  For our wedding, my mom made us a nifty bag drier.  We still use it daily.
Wash, Rinse, Dry and Use Again!
  • For the kids lunches, we use insulated lunch sacks and lots of little plastic tubs and containers for their food items.  Just about everything comes home to be washed and used again.  We even use their little water bottles again and again.  I fill the bottles half-way with water and stick them in the freezer.  In the morning, I fill it the rest of the way and pop it in their bag.  It keeps things cold and they can drink it for lunch.  Double-duty use and no waste!
  • We have accumulated a lot of fabric bags to use at the grocery store.  I stuff all of them in the largest bag and store it under Lydia's seat in the van.  Then I always have them when I get to the store.  I also re-use the thin produce bags by emptying them when I get home and putting them back in one of my fabric bags.  Think: "Baby steps"!  Also ... Kroeger & Target stores give back 5 cents for every fabric bag used ... 5 cents back in my pocket!
  • We pass clothes on and around and back around!  We are hand-me-over professionals!  At each season change, Brett hefts a half-dozen boxes out of the attic and dumps them in the family room.  Then we sit and sort out the clothes to go back into storage, the clothes for the new season and the clothes to give away.  This winter, we only had to buy four skirts and three dresses for the girls.  The rest we have acquired from friends and family.  Is it a pain to keep track of all the clothes?  A little.  Is it a hassle to store them all?  Not really ... the attic doesn't seem to mind.  Is it fun to pull out the bins and see all the "new" clothes? Yes!  It's almost like Christmas in June to pull out the summer dresses and shorts and remember "when Norah used to wear this sundress ... ahhhh".  And now that we are officially moving on to bigger kids, we get the blessing of passing on our gently used clothes to other young families that need them.  The love just goes around and around!
The Baby Girls' Summer Clothes

Bins of "Clothes to Grown Into"

Winter Clothes to Keep Our Baby Girls Warm
  • We re-use a lot of our decorations from year to year.  I have a bin in the garage with the seasonal door hangings and other knick-knacks.  (Christmas has it's own wing in the attic, however.)  I haven't bought a Fall wreath in years ... I just spruce up what I have and enjoy it for the few months it's up, then it's back in the bin until next September.
  • We have replaced many of our house-hold light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.  While they do cost more up front, they use less energy and last longer than regular light bulbs.  We really can't tell much of a difference in the type of light ... although they do take a little while to warm up when you first turn them on.  While I wouldn't recommend them in the bathroom (not your most complimentary light for a glowing complexion), they work great in our living room and kitchen.
  • We use cloth napkins for our meals.  I have a bin of napkins in our pantry ... a set of colors for each season.  We keep the napkins in a little basket to use from meal to meal.  I will be the first to admit that the kids' napkins get pretty nasty pretty fast ... but that's why adults use a different color.  Keeping the colors separate keeps us safe from trying to wipe our hands on a napkin that is crunchy, crumbly and creepy. :)
  • We also re-use our gift bags and tissue paper.  I haven't purchased anything to wrap gifts in for birthdays and special days in .... um ... well, years.  I have a cabinet in the basement where we store the gift bags and a drawer where we keep the re-folded tissue paper.  We do buy Christmas paper and bows ... but we have the rest of the year covered!  This year, Brett was great about recycling all the Christmas wrapping and packages.  Way to be green!
  • This past spring I was introduced to Norwex.  This is by far my "greenest" attempt at being ecologically-minded.  I bought the travel pack, antibac cloths and the window cloth and I use them for a variety of cleaning projects in our home.  Seeing as I have four different cloths to use, I marked the tags with:  "K" for kitchen, "D" for dusting, "W" for windows and "H" for miscellaneous house cleaning.  I simply wet the antibac cloth with tap water and wipe down windows, mirrors, counter tops and faucets and then wipe them dry with the window cloth.  I was astounded at how clean our mirrors were the first time I used it ... they actually sparkled!  For dusting, I use the "D" rag and the microfibers gather up all the dust.  When they get filthy, I toss them in the washing machine.  No chemicals and nothing to throw away.
So ... that's what we are doing to try to make up for the Kellum Diaper Monument at the landfill south of town!  While it might not seem like much, I hope that we are making a little bit of difference.  One little cloth napkin at a time!

How are you practicing the 3 R's?

Maybe you just need some inspiration from Jack Johnson!

1 comment:

  1. We love our hot showers here too, esp. during winter. Caleb has been taking speed showers lately, maybe you could challenge your kids that way. I have done a timer for Rebekah before. It was worse when they took a shower together! We do lots of these things too, I love my bag drying rack! I love my canvas bags for the store. Safeway does not give $$ back for them anymore. I leave them in my car, in hopes of remembering them, and I usually do! It's a good habit! Love you!


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