I signed up for our wellness coordinator’s Go Green program. I’ll get a cool t-shirt when it ends, and I get to examine my lifestyle and incorporate green habits into my daily routine.
I read the list of activities and realized I’m way, way ahead of the people who wrote this list. This is a good program for beginners, but for my family? It’s so easy it’s almost laughable. Encouraging, perhaps, knowing that my efforts are significant. Sad, though, that so many people don’t already participate in easy, easy ways to lessen their impacts on the Earth.
In the Home category:
Insulate your attic. Done, along with the new roof five years ago.
Install a programmable thermostat. Immediately when we bought the house 13 years ago
Get an energy audit. Shortly after we moved in; we’ve gradually taken steps to improve the energy efficiency in our 1890 Victorian. Currently on the list? Replacing old windows.
Create a compost pile. Hahahahaha! I’ve had one for ten years and plan to start a second.
Install a low-flow toilet. Turned off the old water guzzler in the basement, the other two in the house have been replaced with low-flow.
Insulate your water heater. Again, we did this years ago.
As single items, these make a lot of sense. The way I use them in combination, they work even better.
- Collect rain water in a rain barrel.
- Buy biodegradable (kitty) litter.
- Use a green cleaning product.
- Use rags instead of paper towels to clean.
- Skip preheating the oven.
- Reuse packing materials.
- Reuse materials for gift wrap.
I think I’ll clean the rabbit’s litter box, dump the soiled and biodegradable litter in the compost bin, and rinse the litter box with rain-barrel water.
Next I’ll use a rag formerly known as Husband’s t-shirt to clean the oven window with my 7th Generation multi-surface cleaner. Then I’ll be able to watch what’s baking without opening the oven and releasing heat, forcing the temp down and starting a mid-cycle reheating.
I made a serious and successful effort to reuse packing materials as gift wrap last Christmas. Packing material is also great for mailing books with my Paperbackswap account.
Some goals have to be modified. Using a clothesline is a great energy saver. In my climate and due to my family’s environmental allergies (hay fever, etc.), a clothesline isn’t realistic. Instead, I choose to wash by color and fabric type, then dry by weight and wetness. The heaviest and wettest clothing (jeans, sweats) get washed first and dried last. They hang on a drying rack in between so they’re merely damp when go in the dryer. I just started using anti-static dryer balls to save money on fabric softener and use fewer chemicals. The balls work well on regular laundry and not so well on delicates, so I’ll continue to use Downy on sweaters. The change is still worthwhile. The fact that the box from the dryer balls is the perfect size for wrapping gifts (in re-used packing material of course), is a bonus.
It’s a good feeling, this knowledge that I’m doing right by the planet. Going Green is more than just a 30 day activity. It’s a way of life.
>What kitty litter do you use?
I have done great with all your ideas except rain barrels which still have to be set up. I’m amazed how one drying rack and a few hangers above our utility sink will dry almost a whole load of wash!
>I also am wondering what kitty litter you use. And thanks for the tip on drying the jeans, etc. last!
>It never occurred to me to use biodegradable litter, but I love the idea of dumping it in the compost instead of the trash. Definitely on my list. I do most of the rest.
I’m going to order some soap nuts from Dlyn’s site for my washer, and pick up tennis balls for the dryer. I’ve read several places that tennis balls with a slit cut in them are great for softening and reducing static. Worth a shot.
>I just started using white vinegar as fabric softener–1/4 to 1/2 cup added to the rinse cycle instead of downy or bounce sheets in the dryer or anything like that.
And no, the clothes do NOT smell vinegary once they’ve dried.
>Thank you another greenie that can’t use a clothes line due to allergies! I want one so badly, I love putting clothes on a clothes line but my husband and I both have some many allergies.
Just wanted to point out to your readers that you should NEVER put cat poop or dog poop in a compost bin. Rabbits are fine of course. 🙂
>I came into the comments to post the same suggestion as JML. We switched to vinegar about 2 months ago partly for the green effect, partly for the cost, and partly because the residue that fabric softeners leave contribute to your clothes wearing out faster. We’ve been very happy with it, even for sweaters and towels. The only items I find it’s not enough static reduction on is anything made of polar fleece.