Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Green Challenge

Happy Earth Day everyone! Hope it's as lovely in your world as it is in mine!

As mentioned in the sidebar, this blog is about stewardship, primarily of the financial type. But really stewardship is about making the wisest investment in whatever resource is given to us. It really isn’t just about money, but so much more. N and I have attempted to be wise(r) about other decisions in our lives. Being more environmentally aware is one of them. The littlest changes can make a difference. But sometimes those little changes can be a challenge. We finally realized that many of the things we could be doing, but weren’t, were simply out of laziness. Pretty pathetic when you get right down to it.

So last year, we decided that we’d start implementing some changes to the W household. Knowing it was a mindset change, we knew if we didn’t approach things slowly and deliberately, that we’d fail simply out of being overwhelmed. So instead of making a lot of changes at once, we adopted a new “green” method of living every month or every few months, depending on what was going on and what we could handle.

  • Moving to fluorescent bulbs. The whole house is not complete yet. We’re still replacing them as the incandescent ones burn out. Which helps a big on the pocketbook too, since they’re pricier. Spreading the costs over several months is a bit easier to swallow.

  • Stopped buying bottled water. We have a filtered water dispenser on our fridge, so I’m not entirely sure why I bought bottled water anyways. Old habits die hard I guess. I spent $14 bucks on this at Sprouts. I now carry this or a similar one with me almost all the time. It’s dishwasher safe and BPA-free, so it’s convenient AND safe for me and the Monkeys AND doesn’t fill up landfills. Plus I can’t even begin to speculate on how much money we saved not buying bottled water.

  • I started using this. I hate talking about such personal matters on a public forum (apologies to sensitive readers), but let me just say that I am now a huge fan of this product. About one million tons of waste in our landfills EVERY YEAR is due to feminine waste products, which surprisingly enough, is not always biodegradable. This one little detail blew me away! One million tons? I know what I go through every month. If you’re a woman, you know what YOU go through every month. Multiply that with all the women in your city, your state, our country, the world. I was horrified! That alone was enough to send me to the store to purchase one. It took me a few cycles to get the technique down and there is a technique. I’ll be honest, I was frustrated the first month. But I fought through it. The initial cost was a bit hard to swallow (around $33), but after about three months of use, I decided I was not ever going back to paper products. Never, ever! I’ve been won over and I feel very good about my decision. This is one area that I feel is making a huge impact on our earth and only us women can do it.

  • We purchased a recycle bin. Some cities provide an actual recycle bin. Ours does not. But they do pick up recyclables, as long as they are in blue bags, differentiating them from trash bags. They are also nice enough to provide free blue bags once a year at their community center. They also list on their website and in the local paper what recyclable items they accept. So I clipped it out of the newspaper and have it taped above our recycle bin. I go there regularly to remind myself what goes in the bin versus what goes in the trash. So take a look at your city's website listing. You might be surprised what they are doing in your community.

    If you decide to recycle, check with your local city listings to make sure you’re not putting things in the recycle bins they can’t recycle. It’s a waste otherwise. Haha! Get it? Waste? A little green humor. *ahem*

  • Using recycleable shopping bags. I don’t use them for all the stores and I don’t use them every time. But I figure if I use three less plastic bags a week, then that’s 156 less plastic bags I use every year. And for those plastic bags that do follow me home? I use them for liners in our bathroom cans or save them and take them back to Sprouts or Tom Thumb to place in their recycled bag bins.

  • Composting. As a gardener, I understand the HUGE benefits of compost. Talk about making trash into treasure! Rotting fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, cut up egg cartons and newspapers are some of the best things for your garden. Currently our compost is going in an old trash can in our backyard that we don’t use. I actually get excited when I have vegetable remains or empty eggshells. LOL! This weekend N and I will be making an actual compost bin to oxygenate the materials most efficiently. I’m excited! I’ll post later on how that goes.

There are a ton of other things that we need to change about our lives, but these are the baby steps we’re making. Some other ideas that we plan on implementing over the course of this year:

  • Turning off the water while we brush our teeth. I’ve started on this as of last week. Hard habit to break. Something about the calming sound of the water…silly I know.

  • A clothesline. Maybe not for everything, but for large items like towels, bedsheets, blankets, etc.

  • Planting a vegetable garden. This year with M2 coming along, this is just not something I can commit to. But I’m hoping that next year it’s something I can really get rolling.

  • Turning down the heater. N and I are pretty cold natured. So in the winter, our gas heater is on overload. I’m not going to tell you where we keep our thermostat, because, well frankly, it’s really embarrassing. But next year we plan on turning it down a notch and wearing a sweatshirt.

  • Re-insulating our attic. I’m hoping we can get this done sometime this summer. We’ll see.

  • Taking the train. Later this year, the DART Rail is supposed to have a station stop right in front of N’s office. We’re hoping to conserve fuel, money, and air pollution by him taking that instead of driving downtown for his daily commute. An added bonus: we found out his company is willing to pay a stipend for any employees that uses public transportation. Way cool!

I'll try to write more about how things are going green in our household. If it inspires just one more family to make one change in their lives, then great! So far, we're happy that we've made the changes we've made because we feel like we are really making a difference on the earth we leave to our boys. And all of this in just about 6 months. Just imagine in another year what we could be doing!

God gave us this earth to enjoy...are we making the most of what He's given? In celebration of that beauty, what change can you make TODAY to make a difference in our environment?


  1. Seriously, a Diva cup? Cool! I had no idea you were willing to go that green. I've contemplated it but hopefully with my new BC I won't be needing it.

    Slowly doing the bulb change too when I can get them cheap.

    Hate doing bottled water, but haven't found a reusable one I like...maybe I'll have to buy one like you have. We do buy water just to have when we are on the road/running out the door/etc.

    Absolutely we recycle and are so fortunate that Allen makes this super super easy. We're looking for a compost bin and are excited to start doing that so we can have it for our little garden!

    thanks for sharing how you're green!

  2. I LOVE my Camelbak Water Bottle! I've been using a Camelbak backpack for several years now when we go skiing, biking, and other activities. The bottle I use for working out - Sammy has one, too, and I now have two - one in pink and one in red with my HPU logo. :-) I had to have it!

    I don't know about that Diva Cup - I'm going to have to have some more convincing... it kind of wierds me out. Just being honest there!

    Our recycling is really easy, too. Plano now recycles all types of plastics and all the other stuff. You just throw it loose in the bin, all you have to do is be sure it is clean.

  3. I never heard of the diva cup but it sounds really interesting! I"m gong to take a look into that. =) Thanks!!!

  4. I had to stop and think about our "green" incorporations around here. The list is pretty long (and is turning into a belated post)with ideas of things we, too, hope to add in the future.

    As for the DIVA CUP, I love, love, love mine. I will never go back. I am considering some cloth additions for some random cycle issues I have been having. I will let you (all) know how it goes. If you are considering the Diva, just do it. There is a learning curve, but I have to say it is AWESOME!!!

    Loved this post!

  5. I told my sister about the diva cup and she uses it now! I haven't purchased one for myself yet, but I'm definitely going to.