April 29, 2010
So, I’m a little late for Earth Day. But, I did want to write just a bit about it. It’s easy to feel like there’s not a lot that we can do about climate change. With polar bears dying and weather patterns changing, it’s overwhelming. For me, in order not to feel helpless, I have to do something. It’s a mental health thing. I can either be sad, depressed, and feel helpless, or I can decide to do something- anything. My good friend Pam and her family adopt a new earth-friendly product or behavior each year. During the rest of the year, they get used to the new behavior so that by the next year, the new behavior is a habit, and they’re ready to take the next step. I love this. I think it’s a great idea. Each year, just do something that you haven’t been doing. I e-mailed Pam to ask her what her family is doing this year. Over the last year, they purchased a new Energy Star washer, dryer and dishwasher, along with a new furnace which is much more efficient than their old one. They also decided to purchase mesh produce bags so that they don’t have to use plastic produce bags at the market. While the Leffler/Pinilla family dropped some serious cash this year, I know that in years past, this hasn’t been the case. One year, they decided to wash out and reuse plastic sandwich bags. Another year, they started using biodegradable trash bags. They took up vermicomposting another year. Your changes don’t have to be spendy. Just do something. Here are some other suggestions for things that you could try:
Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
Replace paper towels with washable dish towels- buy them in bulk and throw them in the laundry when they get dirty. http://uswiping.com/terrybarmops.aspx I know that you can get these in large quantities at both Target and Smart N Final.
Consider composting or vermicomposting
Buy some reusable bags for the market and use them (store them in the back of your car).
Purchase reusable produce bags http://www.bagthehabit.com/shop_bags.html You can also get these at Whole Foods and Mollie Stones.
Purchase reusable food storage so that you can send waste free lunches to school with your kids.
Buy cheap silverware at a thrift store so that you don’t have to use disposable knives, forks and spoons in lunches.
If you frequently buy coffee or tea in to-go cups, consider purchasing a travel mug to use instead.
Start a small garden.
Join a CSA (I have great suggestions if you live in the Bay Area).
Investigate using public transportation one day a week.
If you can afford to do it, buy local, organic food. This is a whole other discussion, but the average grocery store item has traveled 1500 miles, which translates into oil consumption and carbon emissions.
Consider purchasing biodegradable garbage bags. http://www.biobags.com/
Just a quick word about guilt. Please hear me when I tell you that I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. All of these ideas are great. Just know that my ideals and my actual practice are often two different things. I’m truly not self-righteous with this. For me, environmental stewardship is an important part of my beliefs as a Christian. Just like everything else in my Christian life, this is imperfect. Oh, and if you’re around me, and I get on my self-righteous high horse (it happens), please call me on it. It’s obnoxious.
So what about you? What habits or products has your family adopted? I’d love to hear what you’re doing!