Friday, May 30, 2008

It's not easy being green

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how much we waste in our our home. We're only a family of three and many weeks our garbage bin is overflowing at the curb. It's sad. Not only are we guilty of wasting resources, alot of what we waste adds up in cost too. That's my hard earned money I'm throwing away, and that makes me angry.

In my thinking I've been trying to research ways that we can be more frugal in our consumption and spending. I want to be a steward of the money God has blessed us with. There are many ways in which we've been trying to "do our part" and some days we are better than others, but we've been trying. For a small fee each month we participate in our cities recycling program. Of course I'm guilty at times of tossing out an aluminum can or two, and I also don't always recycle the junk mail, but shred it and toss it into our regular trash can. But, I want to get better at this. We have also started carrying reusable, cloth bags with us when we grocery shop. Again, I don't do it every time, mostly because I forget in hast, but I'm wanting to use these bags nearly every time we shop. I will admit though that having a few plastic bags around the house can be very handy and I put them to use when we have them.

We have begun the transition to all energy efficient light bulbs and would estimate we've replaced about 50% of the lights in our home, definitely the lights we use most often. When I cook, I'm trying to either estimate how much we need at that meal so we don't have waste or at least try and eat our leftovers so they don't spoil and get thrown out. I'm not a fan of leftovers so I'm working on this area of our lives, especially because food prices are still increasing. I hate to waste food and have been trying to keep my meals to recipes that call for fewer ingredients, usually 5-6. I've noticed when I try and get "fancy" with my cooking I often buy extra things that never get used. I'd love to be better at meal planning that uses a number of same ingredients throughout the week. Say I buy a package of green peppers and only need one, often those other two won't get used up before spoiling. To help with this, I've purchased some Green Bags, as seen on tv, but haven't pulled one out yet though. Since then I've seen Green Containers which I think would be a better option, but I need to use what I have first.

I'm also very good about reusing other people's old things and prefer to buy things used for a number of reasons. It definitely saves money to buy things used at a reduced rate and there are many things that just don't need to be bought brand new. Why let something of decent quality go to waste, just because you'd rather have the same thing brand new? I guess it's definitely a matter of preference. I do draw the line at personal things however: mattresses, hygiene products, underwear... I'd rather have my own, thank you.

On that subject, I've ran across references more and more frequently to some interesting products. I have not purchased any of these following items, but find them rather... intriguing for a number of reasons. I'm just not sold on them yet however, they're still a little out there for me.

You can check out what I mean here and here. I'm also considering the world of cloth diapers in the near future and of homemade baby wipes. There are definite advantages to these changes, but many disadvantages too. Plus, cloth diapers can have a pricey up front price tag. But, in the end it's good for the environment and they've made huge strides in the quality of cloth diapers in more recent years.

This past week I've taken action to stop our waste in the area of paper towel use. It seems we're always needing to go to the store and buy another humongous pack of paper towels. We're always using them, to wipe a food covered face, or highchair tray, or highchair itself. And I've seen just how many paper towels my DH thinks he needs to dry his hands, 4. Are you kidding me? And then they get piled up on the counters and I'm constantly throwing them (excuse me... money) into the trash can. So I simply went to a local store and bought a package of 18 simple, white washcloths for less than $3 or so. It probably isn't enough to solve our problem since I don't intend to do this laundry every day or two, but it's a nice start in transitioning from paper to cloth hand towels. I'm just trying to figure out the perfect place to store them, within easy reach and spacious enough that I can just toss them in there without wasting the time to fold them. A cupboard, a drawer or two, a basket? Anyways, I'm weeding out the wasteful paper towel from our home. And once they're dirty I have a plastic bin with a handle under the sink that they are tossed into and once full I have a small load of laundry to carry to the machine. Easy enough.

This leads me to my final "green" topic of the day. I've mixed emotions. I've many thoughts and questions. But it's interesting in the least. Again I'm not sold, but I'm intrigued. So what am I talking about? Check this out.


April said...

I feel your pain on the paper towels. I do like to clean with them(especially the kitchen0 because they are disposable. My husband and kids are the wasters. My son will use 2 to dry off a fork(or his hands) when I keep 2 cloth towels(one for dishes, 1 for hands) easily accessible.

I'm not sure I could do the Family Cloth. I will reduce in other ways before I give up the TP :)

Welcome to FF!

Mom2fur said...

You know those wire chicken-shaped things that people use for eggs? I guess they are called egg baskets. I have one in my kitchen that I use for the dishrags I crochet. I don't bother folding them--I just stuff them in there, leaving one out for use. They actuallyl make the chicken look very colorful, LOL! Maybe you could do a similar idea with your washcloths. I would bet you could find something similar at a garage sale. My chicken only cost me a dollar.

John said...

All right, so I wanted to tell you my experience with a similar cup-like device. I bought a box at Target about 3 years ago, and attempted many times implement the never worked for me. I wonder if I should try it again with a different brand, because I love the concept!

The lunapads intrigue does the "family cloth," but I don't know how it would go over with hubby!

John said...

okay...this is bek, not john!

Sonshine said...


Sounds like you are on the right track to reducing your waste. Don't knock yourself too much...changing habits and sticking to new habits takes time!! Work slowly....master one new habit at a time.

As for the extra green pepper, have you considered just going ahead and dicing or slicing the extra green pepper so that it is ready to use when you bring it home from the store keep out what you want to use fresh and freeze the rest of green peppers all cut up ready to use. :) Also chopped or sliced onions freeze well too.

As for the cloth napkins storage, I say go to the dollar store or the thrift store and pick yourself up a a basket to use for them. This way they are out in plain sight and will get grabbed to use. If you put them in a drawer you will forget about them and the paper towel usage will continue out of control. :)

As for cloth diapers, I have been using them for over 11 years!!! I actually found a local to me diaper service that brings as many as I need for cheaper than getting my own and washing them myself or using paper diapers.

I also want to let you know that I give you a hearty "amen" to drawing the line at personal things...I am the same way!! I also am one that has to have some convenience foods in my freezer and pantry for those nights that I don't feel like cooking.

Niffer said...

with the green peppers (and onions too) chop them and freeze them! works great for putting them in recipes later! then you can stock up when they're on sale!