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Mar 14 2008

It can be easy being green

I had 2 and a half glorious, beautiful, all-to-myself hours this morning and you know what I did? Scrapbook? Read? Catch up on blogs while picking my nose? No, no, and no/disgusting. I scrubbed my kitchen from top to bottom. This is not what I had planned to do, but then I agreed to host playgroup this afternoon. Some of the women coming today have homes that resemble those in House Beautiful, so the least I could do was vacuum. And wipe the stick off of the kitchen table and chairs. And mop the floor. Things like that.

At least the solitary scrubbing time gave me time to think. (Oh, digression…live from my pain…do NOT ever put a textured linoleum with a gray base into a high-traffic kitchen. By the time you finally notice that the floor is getting a little grimy, you have to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the grime out of the floor. Ick). Karen over at Pediascribe is hosting a contest/giveaway for the cutest grocery bags you’ve ever seen. I’m seriously jonesing for one of these Skeeda bags. I’m thinking polka dots…’cause with horizontal stripes I’d be asking everyone, “Do these bags make my groceries look fat?” My faves are the Frost style and (yes, it’s a striped one, but dang, it’s adorable!) Cherry Tree. I’d be so stylin’ hitting King Soopers and Vitamin Cottage with these guys on my shoulder. I do have canvas bags, but it’s a mish-mash of bags you get from insurance agents and the like, and all of them are stained beyond help.

So I’m to write five things I’m doing now to help the environment, and two things I’m going to do. I wrote a Thursday Thirteen in September detailing the things I was doing to green up our household, so this is gonna be a little tough to do again. So this list is in addition to what I’ve already written. But remember, I had a lot of time to think as I was vacuuming the last wind storm out of the deck door track and scrubbing milk splashes off of the deck door.

  1. When not in use, turn off the juice. This was a saying I got from my Gram years ago. I’m finding I’m turning everything off these days and making the boys go back and do it too. We always did before, but I’m really getting on it now. This may have less to do with the environment and more to do with the $200+ utility bills we’ve been getting. You want music? We can listen on my laptop, which has the whole internets as a radio. Right now I’m listening to 80s music on iTunes (ooh, Hangin’ Tough by New Kids on the Block).
  2. Because I do an unholy amount of driving to get A to and from school (just another 15 months…), I’m working even harder to combine errands so I’m not wasting gas…and I keep a mental tally of just who has the cheapest gas. My little town’s sole gas station…holy heck, no. That station I saw in Boulder that had biodiesel at $4.85/gallon? No. Costco…oh yeah…mucho cheaper.
  3. Along with the above, I’m doing more to bring less into the house (see, being green can be inexpensive!). My new mantra has become the old Great Depression mantra: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Missing a recipe ingredient? Use your brain and figure out a solution. I have several different kinds of hand cream, in a fruitless attempt to heal my hands. I’m going to use up every single ounce of this stuff before I get more. And if I run out before I can get to a store, extra-virgin olive oil is a good make-do. Why use gas to go get something you could do without (or work-around)…and don’t forget the gas used to get it to the store, and the gas used to make it.
  4. I am working very hard to shop locally. We just got our 1/2 hog and 1/4 beef in the last couple of months. Not only do I not have to worry about recalls (because these are small ranchers who raise only organic meats), but the meat hasn’t been transported to me from halfway across the country, just down the road. Fruit and vegetables in the winter are difficult, because they are coming from long distances, but I make up for that in the summer by getting all of our produce from our local organic CSA.
  5. Maintenance. We forget about this one, because it’s not a “sexy” green activity, like driving a hybrid (and this will be Tom’s next car, in a few months we’re thinking…and then I can drive this for errands and use the minivan for carpool). Maintain what you have. Your furnace runs more efficiently if you remember to replace the filter. Get the ducts cleaned out every few years. Get your a/c unit cleaned up for the summer. I know my cherubs have been tossing rocks into the a/c unit for a few years and so it’s time for a cleaning and prep for the summer. Keep the air in your tires at the proper pressure so you’re not wasting gas. Weatherproof your home, especially around doors and windows. Why pay through the nose for utility bills, and harm the environment? Keep things running well in your home and they cost less to operate and you don’t have to replace them….and fill a landfill with the reject.

So my two things I’m going to do…

  1. Karen piqued my interest in BacOut, a “green” cleaner. I got some (or something very similar, mine is called BioKleen) and have been thrilled with it. No streaks. On anything. My floor…the one I had to scrub on my hands and knees this morning…came clean and isn’t sticky from the cleaner. (The scrubbing was because of my hideously disgusting floor, not because of the cleaner). So as my cleaners run out, I’m going to replace them with “green” cleaners. I’m not going to need as many different kinds, because they tend to be multi-taskers (yes, “green” cleaners are apparently moms), but I won’t be getting what I used to get. I’ve already been using a “green” laundry detergent I can find at Costco (and, stunningly enough, it’s cheaper than anything else there!). Also along those lines, I’ll be replacing shampoos and things with “green” alternatives. I’ve been reading about the chemicals going into personal care products and I’m creeped out. Uh, no thanks.
  2. Easter is next week and A’s birthday is next month (and this year, he won’t get shafted! I always forget to prep for his birthday because it’s right up against Easter). Both of those holidays involve….well…junk. Crap. Plastic crap. You know what I’m talking about. Little disposable toys and sugarsugarsugar!!!! So for Easter I’m scaling back. We already have baskets and grass, and reuse it every year. But there will be considerably less sugarsugarsugar!!!! and no plastic crap in the baskets. I’m thinking a new Leapster game for each basket. These two love their Leapsters, best thing Santa has brought. Evah. For A’s birthday, there will be no goody bags. I know kids love them, but tough noogies. I’m not buying sugarsugarsugar and more plastic crap for another parent to have to deal with. I hate it when A or J comes home with it, I’m done passing along the favor. I’m thinking instead the kids can take home a little pot and some seeds, or something like that. Something that will last longer than 24 hours and maybe improve the environment for a change. Still thinking…

So there are my lists. I find that the more I do for the environment, the better I feel about it and the more I want to do. I’m also finding that I want to treat my body with the same kind of respect and I’m making better food choices for my family. I’m becoming “Crunchy Aunt Jen” (as I’m sure Tom’s family considers me…because I feed my kids tofu and the like) and I not only am I comfortable with that, I love it. My Crocs are wearing down, so I’ll recycle them. I love that. Little things like that (and those above) really do make a difference. Every little bit helps.

Including carrying a Skeeda bag. 🙂

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  1. Karen

    You can recycle Crocs? I had no idea!
    Great post.

  2. ChiTown Girl

    I’m sure you’re familiar with Oriental Trading Company. (www.orientaltrading.com) I usually order a craft from them (which are awesome, cuz each kit is individually packaged, you just hand each one a bag!) for my son’s parties. I usually get a picture frame kit (preferably magnetic), and as soon as the kids arrive, I snap a photo of each child with my son. Then they make the frame, and let it dry. In the meantime, I have someone run the film over to my grocery store, which does 30 minute prints (yay!). By the time we play a few games, and eat, the pictures are ready and picked up, and I put them in the frames for an instant party favor that moms love. I know that sounds like a lot of driving around, but my grocery store is literally 4 blocks away. I realize it’s probably not as convenient for you, huh? Well, if you have a digital camera and a printer for it….

    Anyway, I just realized I haven’t done this for my son in two years. Afterall, he is a teenager now 🙁 boo hoo! I just wanted to throw it out there. Have a great weekend. I know I will, spring break starts in exactly 15 minutes!!!!! (My class has their heads down cuz they’re in BIG trouble!!)

  3. Robin

    I won the eggshell Skeeda bag in Phyllis’ (Imabima) giveaway a few months ago. I love it!

  4. Denise

    I love it all! And, I am so there about easter..candy & plastic, nightmare! I was going to order personalized baskets this year, but I decided to just empty out a basket already in use around here.

    I love most of the 7th generation cleaners, I started getting neurotic about the chemicals after Sj’s birth.

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