I am new to this section, and could probably do a lot of reading and get the same information, but I'm posting a thread so a) I don't have to do as much work and b) public decrees make me feel more accountable to my actions!
I am trying to make small, steady changes to greenify my life, become more socially and environmentally conscious and responsible. I come from a very far from crunchy place, and DH even more so. But I'm finding it less and less daunting to make big changes, and I feel like I am on a roll, so I am looking for some inspiration to keep going. So far we have switched to organic fruits and veggies from a CSA, organic local meats, relying less on prepared foods and more on homemade (I canned for the first time this year! Woo!), and making bread is on my short-list. I just ordered some Lunapads and a Diva cup, I am planning the no-poo switch imminently for myself and DD (and DH if I can get buy-in). We are using less paper products around the house, so definitely making a complete shift to no paper towel and to family cloth is on the list. We are going to try growing veggies for the first time this year. I am trying to curb my shopping habits, but that one is hard. At least I am trying, in general, to reduce buying new. I have just learned to crochet and plan to learn to sew, which will hopefully replace my shopping need if I can make instead (and repurpose fabrics instead of buying new). I just read about making greener toothbrush choices. Any recommendations? Oh, and I will be moving to homemade cleaning products as I run out.
Any suggestions on what to do next? I feel like I have planned more than I have accomplished, but since I have a fair bit planned and feel like they are all reasonable goals, I need to set my sights on the next steps. Thank you for reading!!
You are off to a great start! Another area to look at is transportation. Could you reduce your driving and do more walking and bicycle riding? That will depend a lot on where you live but even planning car trips to do as many errands in one trip makes a difference. When it comes time to replace your vehicle you can assess what you truly need at that point and see if your next vehicle can be better environmentally. Making your own cleaning products is better than purchasing chemical products from the store but the best way to reduce your environmental impact when it comes to cleaning your home, car, and skin is to switch to something like Enjo. When you do purchase something new, buy the best quality you can afford as it will likely last much longer and not need to be disposed of and replaced as quickly.
Thanks for your response!!
I have definitely been thinking a lot about travel. Currently we are a two car family, although we really don't like it. I am starting a new job where I have to travel as part of work, and DH commutes to a nearby city. Not ideal for sure. But we have a family goal to start to bike more within city, and eventually get down to one or zero cars.
I'll have to look into Enjo, I have not heard of it!
It sounds like you are on the right track to be more green. I am having a hard time coming up with other ideas to throw at you. Replace all of your lightbulbs when they blow out with those new energy efficient kind and insulation can cut down on heating bills. We compost our veggie scraps and also have a worm bin in the basement. We have eliminated all paper from the kitchen, using hand towels, cloth napkins and placemats. We are trying to get away from plastic in the kitchen, but I am trying to avoid buying new "stuff" so am doing this as a slower process from yard sales, etc. Since you original post is from many months ago... how is your plan working out?
At first I thought, in response to your Q about how it's going, that it wasn't going well.. But I'm doing better than I thought. I successfully switched to no-poo, but not the fam. I'll work on the DDs when hair washing in general isn't a terrible ordeal. We haven't really reduced our paper intake. But we did plant the garden and learned some lessons for this year. I have been shopping less but I definitely still need to sew, as that could do a lot to replace my shopping (which has been low. Too much guilt to buy new). I bought a bike and plan to start riding to work at least once a week once weather is better. We sold a car and joined a car co-op for the days when we NEED two cars. And the best success has been homemade cleaning products. DH has gotten on board w this the best, so much so that he invented his own dishwasher detergent when we ran out
I have lots of work to do, and I'm still motivated to do it. The hardest part is being around people who dont see things the way I do.. The links between purchasing products and the environment, don't understand the environmental risks we are facing. The media has been killing me lately. Why is it every record breaking day for temperatures has to be reported with celebration and enthusiasm?? When do we get serious that above record temps all the time is something to act upon? Man, do I worry
My husband really likes Liggett's shampoo bar--perhaps you might convince of that since it is still soap. It was the only thing to get him off regular shampoo. I am using up our regular shampoo and conditioner (gallon-size each to save money and packaging!) so in another 10 years when that is gone, I'll find something new. (Liggett's uses olive oil, which reddens my skin painfully.)
Our #1 contribution to the environment, or at least one I am most proud of, is our high level of composting. Between the chickens and the worms, every bit of scrap food gets composted--as well as plenty of paper (we have to take our recycling in, so composting the plain paper helps stretch out the trips), paper and cotton products in the house, rags, hair, dryer lint...... Once upon a time BK (Before Kids) I would even compost paper packaging layered with plastic, old undies and socks with lycra, and I would clear those out when I harvested the worm bin. The worms loved my bin, but that particular method was higher maintenance compared to what we do now, and I have no time for fishing out plastic bits anymore. Luckily, most of that paper is recyclable now.
Without hardly trying, it seems, most weeks our garbage amounts to about 1 paper grocery bag per week for a family of 4. I could do far, far better than that if I applied myself.
Now if I can only do something about the gas consumption.....
It is hard establishing good habits. Even harder to get the family on board sometimes. Good luck! Don't give up entirely--even if it is one thing, like swearing off plastic veggie bags as well as bringing cloth shopping bags-- you'll be making a big step forward.
ETA: This year the PNW had the driest summer on record. Seattle had less than 1/4 inch to spoil their record, but our area made it 88 days without any measurable precipitation (that *one* day the rain looked like it would fall but didn't). So many people were basking in our glorious sunshine, and I had a hard time finding an ear for my desire for more normality. It was frustrating.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
You seem to be well on your way already! A few more suggestions:
The single largest source of carbon emissions in the US household: the car. This is where your change can make the largest impact. Good news: with CAFE 2025 rules, the fuel efficiency of new cars is increasing (not as fast as we would like, but it's something).
The second largest source of carbon: home heating and cooling. Move your thermostat closer to the outside temp. Do it gradually, so you don't die the first week. Over more than a decade, I've slowly nudged CelloDad from a 70-72F range to where our house is now 62F in winter, 85F in summer. I'm proud of him!
Then it's meats: giving that up is great for your body, and great for the planet. Excellent for the cows.
All of the above save you money. Because Green=Frugal.
That holds double for buying stuff. (Suggestion: turn off your TV; advertising is manufacturer's direct line to your "buy" reflex).
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