it's not easy being green

In the course of my recent LeapBlogging (see #8), I came across this website. And while I don't necessarily have the zeal it would take to convince BG to begin composting our familial feces, I am nothing short of inspired by the Beavan family.

Just out of curiosity, I followed one of Mr. Beavan's links to this site . The disgusting reality is that although we recycle (when we remember to), turn off the lights in unused rooms (most of the time), turn up the thermostat when we leave the house (unless we forget), use public transportation/walk/bike around town (unless it's more convenient to drive), if everyone were to do what I do, we'd need 3.64 more planets for just the human race to survive. No room for cute little bunnies or happy little ladybugs. Put another way, I am guilty of using between 3 and 5 times my share of the planet's resources. How's that for selfish? Quite simply, it's disgusting. We don't have 3.64 planets to satisfy my disposable lifestyle. As the song (incidentally chosen by Mr. Beavan as the No Impact Man theme) says:

And if I think there's something wrong wit it, a wrong that I have had a rather large hand in creating, then it's up to me to do something about it.

Here's a list of what I'm going to do to start making less of an impact:

1. Cut back our garbage.When we first moved to Philadelphia, I was appalled when I realized that the THREE of us could generate as many as six 13 gallon trashcan size bags of garbage each week. Within weeks of that discovery, we were able to cut our weekly refuse down to 4 bags. It's time to get busy cutting back again.
~By the end of this month, my goal is to be taking no more that 3 bags of garbage to the curb per week.
~Instead of using wet-wipes as the cleaning tool of choice, we're going to start using that mountain of rags and washcloths above the washer.
~No more diaper changes just because LG just got up from his nap and I always change his diaper when he gets up from his nap.
~No more sealing each diaper in it's own little bag before tossing it into the can. We'll deal with the odor, spritz a little more Febreeze, and if the odor is still overwhelming, we'll haul the little stink bundles to the garage more often.
~No more bottled water. Half the time I'm dumping some sort of flavor into it or adding lemon, anyways. And we've got enough water bottles from this run or that charity event to supply a classroom of 2nd graders... time to start putting them to work as well.
~No more kitchen sponges. I like my refillable scrubber/soap dispenser better, anyways.
~No more need to answer the question "paper or plastic" at the grocery store. All those totes that I got because teachers are supposed to get totes will take turns making the daily trek to and from the grocery store. We've even got an insulated one, which means we can stop and play at the park on our way home.
~And no more of those cleaning wipes to which I have become addicted. A spritz of my new favorite cleaner (water + a drop of dish soap) and a rag and I'm done.
2. Conserve water. I don't even want to think about how much water we waste in the course of a given day.
~A little elbow grease, the afore mentioned scrubber, and an inch or two of water in the little plastic bin they sent home with us from the hospital when LG was born should nicely take the place of rinsing our dishes under a full stream of *hot* running water before putting them into the dishwasher. And if I need this dish or that dish right away? I will wash it. By hand. The dishwasher only runs when it is full.
~By combining our laundry with LG's (separating it is a habit I fell into when he was an infant and "needed" that fancy-schmancy baby detergent and by washing our sheets and bath towels every other week instead of every week, we can cut our number of laundry loads easily in half.
~Washing everything on the cold/cold cycle and soaking only the items that need to be soaked (no more "stain cycle" on the washer!) not only reduces the amount of energy we use, but it will reduce the amount of time it takes to run a load as well.
~Shorter showers (on those mornings that I manage to squeeze one in!) will give me a little more time to read another chapter in the book that is holding my attention at the moment.
3. Focus on using up the stuff that we have.
~That drawer full of lotions? One by one, they're going into the shower to take the place of a new can of shaving gel. The empty bottles? Straight to recycling, do not pass go, do not spend another $200 on stuff that I will never use.
~And those bottles of shampoo that I tried on a whim and hated? Well, the hair on my arms really doesn't need to be volumized, so from shampoo to body wash those bottles shall be transformed.
4. Become more energy efficient.
~What the crap am I thinking, turning on the lights when the sun is out?!! No more lights between the 7:30's (am - pm), except on the dark, dark stairs and in the inner sanctums (aka bathrooms).
~Adding a drying line above the washer and dryer will allow me to hang dry the cleaning cloths and other items for which wrinkles and drying time is not an issue.
~Change the thermostat settings to 78*in the daytime, 75* at night and pull that fan out of the storage closet where it has been doing nothing but taking up space and collecting dust. A little air movement in whichever room we are in makes more sense than cooling 2000 square feet of unoccupied space. And moving it from room to room doubles as a mini weight lifting session.
It's not the full monty, by any means, but it's a start. I'll take the test again in a month or so and see how I'm doing. First time in my life I'm looking for my score to go down!!!

Thanks, Mr. Beavan. Your "no impact" philosophy has made a huge impact on me!



Lora said...

Good job lady! I've been working to do the same, but I have kinda been slacking.

It was good to run into you this weekend. Thankfully, Philly really is a small town or else I'd never see anyone. Let's make plans for lunch after I get my face cut off.

The Curmudgeon said...

Just for grins, I took the test, too.

Interestingly, there are two "planets" measures -- my "ecological" footprint of 4.72 planets... and we're using the florescent bulbs and everything!... and my "carbon" footprint of 2.51 planets.

I don't put a lot of stock in these numbers -- but I agree that recycling and other energy saving things just makes sense.

Now, if I could just get the kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room....

susan said...

Lora, lunch plans are definitely in order. And please let me know if there is anything at all that I can do to help out while you're recovering!

Curmy, I noticed that discrepancy, too. I just assumed that I had flubbed up somewhere. My test taking skills tend to be, er, unique. Thanks for playing along!!!