Thursday, April 29, 2010

Green Thursdays: Simple Things

I thought this week I would write about the simple little things I do to try to minimize the impact I have on the environment. Obviously, I turn off lights when I'm not using them, turn off the water when I'm brushing my teeth, and I recycle everything possible, but there are other things I try to do that I believe help. I'm really into reducing my consumption of resources. The less I buy, the less needs to be produced, saving all the waste and energy that manufacturing things requires.

Use Reusuable Bags: This is easy. I just bought a few recyclable bags and I take them into stores with me when I shop. I like One Bag At A Time, but these bags are easy to come buy, and don't cost a lot. It decreases my consumption of plastic bags, decreases the number of non-degradable bags in landfills, and decreases the need to make more bags. In fact, I use reusable everything if I can: cloth lunch bags, tupperware containers instead of ziploc bags, etc.

Compost: I have two compost bins in my backyard. I add my compostable waste to one while I let the other turn into compost. There are lots of bins available, there are worm bins, tumblers, you can create a pile in your yard, or just use a plastic storage bin and turn it with a shovel. I personally use the Urban Compost Tumbler, it has a rod in the middle so it separates and aerates the compost when you spin it, helping it to compost faster. But there are lots available.

Buy Organic: I buy organic produce, meat, and dairy products whenever possible. Are they healthier? Maybe, maybe not, the official jury's still out on that one, although I tend to think not ingesting pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics is probably the healthier option. They are healthier for the environment. Organic farmers do not put chemicals into the earth, they have to practice crop rotation, preventing leaching of certain nutrients out of the soil, the animals are fed more natural, grass based diets, and they can't use hormones and antibiotics. I also think organic food tastes better, maybe that's just me, but if you've never had organic bananas, buy a bunch and see what you think.

Buy Local: I also try to buy local. I go to farmer's markets when I can. When I can't, I try to look where my produce is grown, and buy the stuff that's grown closest to me geographically. Buying local not only supports the local economy, you get fresher produce and reduce the waste associated with shipping the produce over long distances.

Wash Cars Less: Ok, this one is a lot of laziness on my part, and maybe I'm just trying to justify our dirty cars. Really, though, our cars don't need to be washed every week. A little dirt isn't going to hurt your car. Now, if you live somewhere where the roads are salted in the winter, you probably do need to wash that junk off your car to prevent corosion. But, in sunny California, and other mild climates, and in warm weather months, it really isn't necessary and just wastes water. Sure, my cars aren't all shiny all the time, but they run just fine, and it doesn't really matter that they're not super pretty.

Use Non-Toxic Cleaners: I have started using cleaning supplies that are made with ingredients I can pronounce and are biodegradable. I really like Mrs. Meyer's products, Seventh Generation, and Planet. I also use microfiber rags with just water and have been known to make my own cleaners. I'll probably get back to that when Penny is a little older and I have a tad more time.

So, those are a few of the easy things I do to try to reduce my carbon footprint. What do you do?

** Disclaimer: I did not get paid or receive any promotional items from the companies I linked to above. I really do use them and like them.

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