Today, we went to the Howard County Green Fest. It was basically a bunch of vendors and interest groups all focused on being green. We saw all sorts of interesting things - solar panels, generators, organic and chemical free products... I think the most intriguing item I saw was this contraption that you hook up to your washing machine that makes it unnecessary to use detergents or hot water. Apparently, it uses silver ions (or something like that) to clean the clothes. And it "only" runs about $500.00. Interesting. Carter also got a dogwood seedling which he made us plop in the ground within minutes of arriving home. We'll see how long I can manage to keep that alive (I have a bit of a black thumb)!
Anyway, our outing today prompted the idea for this post. I am not exactly what you would call a tree hugger. In fact, a few short years ago I was classified among the skeptics that questioned whether global warming really exists. I dunno what "turned" me. Maybe it was more like a Pascal's Dilemma for me - even if global warming doesn't exist, we're still better off in trying to preserve the Earth than if we didn't, right? And if it does exist and we do nothing...well, then we're screwed. But I think the biggest factor in driving me to become more eco-conscious is becoming a mother. I just have this sense of responsibility for the state of the world I leave to my children and grandchildren, and feel the duty to pass that on to my kidlets as well. And I've become a bit of a pseudo-crunchy mom to boot (extended breast-feeding, semi-co-sleeping, baby-wearing, organic feeding...).
So, I've slowly, but sure started to implement gradual earth-friendly changes. A few months ago, our county implemented a really awesome recycling program - distributing larger trash-can sized recycling "bins" to every household where you can throw in without sorting any recyclable materials. We estimate that we've cut our trash output by 2/3 since we've started recycling!
All of the appliances we've purchased for our current home are in some way energy efficient - the washer/dryer, HVAC, dishwasher. I'm lusting for a tankless water heater and a dual zone HVAC sytem!!
A few years ago I started using some chemical-free cleaning products to reduce the amount of chemicals we are exposed to and put into the environment. My favorites are Method and Clorox's Green Works.
And for most of my cleaning, I use washable/reusable cleaning cloths rather than paper towels. But I also desire "germ-free" living (inasmuch as that is possible), particularly with an immuno-deficient child, so I can't bring myself to give up my Clorox disinfecting wipes!! I would imagine that Clorox would wise up soon and make a version that is biodegradable like their Green Works product line wipes. But earth-friendly cleaning products come at a premium price, unfortunately. So, I still buy some stuff from Costco in bulk (Windex, Toilet bowel cleaner, hardwood cleaner, and my beloved Clorox wipes!!!). So, while I'm trying, I can't seem to go all the way...
As a general rule, you we don't have bottled water in our house - just think about all the plastic you use up unnecesarily with bottled water!!! Even if you recycle at home, there aren't usually many places to dispose of recyclable materials like plastic bottles on the go. Rather, I carry around a Rubbermaid water bottle that I refill throughout the day and toss in the dishwasher at night. I also pack my and Carter's lunches in washable Rubbermaid containers rather than disposable packaging.
I've found that buying food in bulk often reduces the amount of packaging waste. This past Christmas, I discovered Amazon's "hassle-free packaging" - which is basically the product in the shipping box rather than in the retailer's packaging in addition to the inevitably larger shipping box - and I thought it was a FANTASTIC idea! It turns my stomach when I see the mound of cardboard and plastic that accumulates after Christmas or a birthday party! I would be ecstatic if retailers would begin to seriously cut down on the packaging of products - its so unnecessary!! And, who can live without those cute reusable grocery bags that everyone is selling these days?? I started by buying one each trip to the grosh until I accumulated enough to cover my usual-sized order. And at $1 each, I didn't even notice the cost impact!
Perhaps I could do the Earth a huge favor by cloth diapering; but yeah, I just can't bring myself to go there. Disposables are just entirely too convenient. As a busy mom, convenience sometimes has to trump the environment (although, I'm sure there are many who'll disagree). I also wonder if the use of water and energy and chemicals it takes to get those puppies clean really is all that much better???
So, I'm getting there. Trying. I'm always looking for other inexpesive and "easy" things I can do to help the green cause a little more. Ace has grandeur dreams of building a green home one day. And, I've found him trying to produce hydrogen in our kitchen, thinking he could develop some sort of hydrogen powered vehicle (neverminding the fact that he all but barely passed any science-related class he ever took!!). But for now, I'm looking for simple things I can do!
So give it to me - what are you doing, or hope to begin doing, to keep the world a clean and green place to live???