Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Piece to the Puzzle

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The book has got me thinking about organic food (which I have been buying some, but not all, in the past few months), sustainability, small farms, shopping locally, growing a vegetable garden this summer, and it's got me thinking about a lot of other things, too.

This is another part of the whole green puzzle that my family and I are putting together. I've been focusing on recycling and conserving energy over the past few months. Now I feel called to incorporate buying as much local, organic food as I'm capable of and starting a vegetable garden this summer. 

When I asked my five year old what kind of vegetables he would like to grow in a garden this summer, he said he wanted to grow a carrot tree. Both he and I have a lot to learn about growing food, but I'm looking forward to learning about it with both of my boys and my husband. 

It's two days until the new year. I'm thinking 2008 is going to year of a lot of new experiences for us.
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Tis the Season to Freecycle

In my last post, I relayed how I was putting all of my shipping/packing materials left over from buying online onto Freecycle. Within 24 hours someone had come and picked it all up. I also was able to find someone who needed the kitty condo that our cat never uses. That was gone within 24 hours, too.

Over the next few days I'm going to doing what I always do the last couple of days of every year - going through the house looking for no longer used things to donate to Good Will. One last tax write off before the year ends. Every year there are things that can't go to Good Will because they don't accept them or they are too cumbersome to haul there. This year, I'm going to be freecycling those things instead of letting them sit around. As we make room for all the new things we got this Christmas, I'll be finding new homes for the things we no longer use but are still very useful. None of it will go to waste. None of it will end up in a landfill. 
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Hate Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts have got to be on my top ten most annoying things ever list. Not only are they bad for the environment, they have malicious little minds of their own. They fly all over the place, stick my hands and my clothes, and take forever to scoop out of a box. There is no easy way to get a box full of packing peanuts emptied. And the entire time I'm trying to empty a box, my cat is jumping inside the box trying play.

Why this rant today? I just spent about 45 minutes gathering up all of the shipping boxes and packing materials that I had thrown in my downstairs shower (which no one ever uses) while getting ready for Christmas. I do a lot of shopping online. I'm always amazed at the huge box that one little CD can arrive in.

In the past, I've always recycled as much of the packing materials that I could, but this year I decided to go one step further. I've neatly put all the boxes, packing peanuts, air pillows, balled up paper, and anything else that can be used for packing/shipping together in the biggest shipping box and offered it all up on Freecycle. There has to be someone out there who sells on ebay or has other shipping needs who can use it all. This way, it can all get reused at least one more time before it is recycled.

Today is glass/plastic/paper pick up day in my town, and as I look down the block, I see tons of useful boxes put out at the curb. I'm not judging - it's being recycled and that 's a good thing. In the past, my curb would have looked just like the rest. But it feels good to know that I'm doing just a little bit to curb the waste instead of putting the waste out at the curb.
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Picking Through the Trash

I wasn't prepared. I had been so busy in the days leading up to Christmas that I hadn't thought to plan ahead to make sure that all of the trash generated yesterday got disposed of properly. And I certainly was not of a clear enough mind when my husband and boys woke my up at 6am (hubby was up first and woke the boys - he's such a boy himself) to open gifts to make sure things got saved to recycle instead of thrown in trash bags. All of the wrapping paper and boxes that the toys and other gifts came in went in to one trash bag.

So today, I went through the trash bag and pulled stuff out. Yep. That's what I did. 

Next year, I'm going to make sure I'm prepared. And I'm putting it on my calendar for late next summer to query some publication about writing an article on being eco-conscious during the opening frenzy.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, December 14, 2007

Anyone want to gift wrap Manhattan?

I read this today on

If 40% of Americans used just 2 less sheets of gift wrap this season, we would save enough paper to gift wrap Manhattan.

We all wonder if the little bit we do each day really does make a difference. See. It does.
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Expanding my Vocabulary

I read a new term the other day - greenwashing. It's when a company or an organization claims to be doing something green when in fact they aren't being very green at all. They are simply jumping on the green bandwagon since right now it's hip to be green.

Today I heard a commercial for the local mall. A husband and wife are talking about shopping. Wife says she's going to save the environment by doing all of her shopping in one place. She then goes on to name a gazillion products she's going to buy in that particular mall - products that of course are not helping the environmental problem at all. Her husband congratulates her on doing her part for the ecology.

My first thought - GREENWASHING! I was amazed at how quickly that word entered my vocabulary. So great, now with my constant nitpicking of commercials and advertisements - bad grammar and faulty logic abound everywhere - I'll be scrutinizing them for greenwashing.

It's a good term, it's just bad for someone with my idiosyncrasies.
Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 10, 2007

When it's Okay to Use Paper Products

We had a neighborhood Christmas cocktail party over the weekend. If you look our my back door right now the piles of beer and wine bottles along with the boxes they came in are enormous. They all must wait until Thursday for the recycling to be picked up.

We had so many people at the party, I simply did not have enough plates and cloth napkins to accomodate them. So this, I decided, is when it's okay to use paper products. I found festive Chinet plates that were made from recyclable materials and were biodegradable. I bought recycled paper napkins. I even brought the paper towels out from under the sink where I hide them out of site. I did use real silverware (well - not real silver, but you know what I mean). 

When I was planning the party, I started to think about how I could make the entire party green. I'm becoming known as the "green" expert in my circle of friends, and I didn't want to seem like a hypocrite by using paper products. But then I thought about how making the entire party green would be difficult. And I didn't want my party to be difficult - I wanted it to be fun. I didn't want to stress over planning it, and I didn't want to stress while the party was happening.

Part of what I write about is finding a way to make green fit my lifestyle. I know that if I don't, I'll probably give up somewhere along the way. So I decided to do the best I could. I made the decision to use some paper products, and you know what? In the end we used about 30 recycled, biodegradable plates, 50 recycled paper napkins, and perhaps 1/4 of  roll of paper towels. That is not so bad considering that the rest of the year, I'm very diligent about not using paper products.

So this Christmas season, as you are getting ready for guests, give yourself a break. If you must use some paper products, find the most eco-friendly ones you can, and then just let it go. Enjoy the party. 
Stumble Upon Toolbar