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.