I'm trying to think what all is out there. I buy or make green cleaning products, like dish soap, dishwasher detergent, floor and counter cleaners, and all that. I used cloth diapers and use rags instead of paper towels.
What do you get? What other areas are there where I could go greener? My thoughts as far as the environment goes seem to be focused around cleaning products, but I'd like to make other changes in my home as well. Any ideas?
Hmmmm, let's see if I can come up with a good list for you.
In our house we:
-garden in every.single.sunny.spot.we.own. There aren't many and I rent so I can't rip up the lawn but I pack as much as possible in. Anything decorative looking even goes in the flower beds in the front.
-compost our kitchen and yard scraps(after cooking down veggies for stock).
-buy a small amt of toilet paper per month but no disposable paper products otherwise(paper towels, feminine products, "swiffer" type stuff, etc)
-make all our own cleaning supplies(think baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, borax, washing soda) including floor cleaners and laundry detergent.
-buy quality "green" bar soaps from local vendors during the farmer's market season and small wahm businesses on the off season for homemade cleaning supplies and making into body wash for us.
-limit our consumption. Everything we own pretty much was purchased used in one way or another. Yard sales, craigslist, hand-me-downs from friends and relatives, thrift stores, etc. We don't buy new unless it's something we have searched for used and cannot find and it's something we can't get by without.
-drive as little as possible. This is partly due to high gas prices but also to offset our carbon footprint. It's wasteful to run errands multiple days a week and little trips here and there for things everyday so we combine as many things as possible. If I know I need to return library books on Friday, I'll put off a grocery shopping trip until that day since they are on the same side of town.
-library books. Our library has a great e-zone and my oldest and I like to request e-books for our nooks instead of buying them new to avoid consumption AND lower the cost. We read a lot and the library is a huge help in that.
-buy groceries with as little packaging as possible. We do a once a month bulk shopping at Whole Foods and stock up on rice, beans, oats, nutritional yeast, spices, etc and then do weekly shoppings for perishables after that. All the bulk stuff is without packaging obviously and perishables have minimal packaging usually.
-recycle or repurpose plastic and glass containers. My plants all have beer bottles upside down in them to keep them hydrated. It's quite classy. Our seedlings were started in plastic yogurt tubs this year.
-I sewed up some simple drawstring bags for bulk items or produce. Instead of using plastic baggies for those things, we simply use our own cloth bags and wash later. If it adds any weight at all, it's ridiculously small.
-We carry our own cloth bags for any shopping we do and if we acquire a plastic bag somehow, we use it for cleaning cat litter boxes and disposing of waste. More often than not, I have to beg plastic bags off my mom for that purpose because we don't have enough.
-We reuse absolutely everything possible, even yard waste. I tasked my kids with filling wheelbarrows of pine cones this past fall from my parents' house to use to mulch the garden. It's free. The pine cones will be composted when the season is over. But otherwise the town would have taken them, chipped them up, and charged people to buy them back. Ridiculous! Likewise, I nabbed a few large bags of leaves to put in my shed to use in the compost pile.
-When my kids were small I cloth diapered them in flats and covers or homemade t-shirt prefolds, wore them in homemade ring slings(home depot, stainless steel rings, $2.49 for two plus a worn-out bedsheet cut down to size and hemmed), made their babyfood or fed them from my plate as they came close to a year old, etc.
A lot of these things we did mostly because I was too poor to do anything else but over the years I've come to love it and see it as a normal part of life to reduce our carbon footprint and not be wasteful. My kids don't know any different. I'm constantly surprised at their ingenuity in reusing and reducing. They bring me too-small clothing to cut up. They offer to turn the compost pile. They find me to tell me they are putting the rest of their yogurt bowl in the fridge because they think it would be good in muffins and they are full.