Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Going Green

2 years ago we made some changes in our family to help the environment.
We started out not really intending to be greener it just happened with little changes along the way but what I discovered was not only were we being kinder to the planet we saved a lot of money too!!!

Thank you to my friend for loaning me a book that opened my eyes a lot, a class that taught my son about global warming, and Curious George(the cartoon)for going to the recycling center. It truly has been a family effort and I am grateful for their efforts. I thought it would be a huge sacrifice for us but it was little changes  that made a huge difference.

We have accomplished a lot over the last few years. We have more we can do as I look around and every light is on in the house as we speak but we will work on that this year!

Take a look and see how we went Greener..........

1. The Gas Tank

I used to fill my tank every 10 days now every 21 days.

What I did not to drive around so much...I used to run an errand everyday. Now if I am in one spot of town anything I have to do there gets done. If I were needing to go to return something to the library I would also take the kids to The Center of the Arts or send it with my husband when he went to Young Men's or if I needed to run to go to Lowes or Home Depot I would grocery shop at Meijers, stop at Micheals, and Target. The funny thing was not only did I save money on gas because I was getting things done in one area, I also saved money because I was trying to get the things done before the kids errand timer ran out and there was no time to browse. It was here's my list, get the stuff, get out, go to the next place, next store.

We got netflix so no more running back and forth to the movie store. This movie is due the next day, this one in five days, this one is a 2 day rental you get the picture we would run to the movie store 4 days a week and not to mention the late fees that would sometimes happen.

No more shopping out of town- which is a big one. If I really needed something from a specific store not in our town I usually could just find it at their on line site and the sites always have a clearance section(guess what I never ordered a thing all year, there was never anything so special that I had to leave this town to go get it or have it shipped to me either). I started going to Sam's quarterly instead of monthly and now I go bi-annually and to the cannery once a year or whenever my can of carrots runs out then I know it is time to go!

Just staying home-we have a ton of fun stuff to do just at home and my kids love being here. We have movie nights at home complete with popcorn,pop,and movie candy. We have game nights. We color and paint and we love playdough. We sing and dance around the house. We have adventures..did you know the tree outside our house has a troll and there are goblins in our yard, thank goodness we have the safety of our tree house. We sidewalk chalk and blow bubbles. Honestly what more could we ask for than our kids loving Fun at Home!

This is how I quit driving so much and went GREEN!

2. Reusable Shopping Bags

The hardest part about this one was remembering to bring them. I finally hung one of the 3M hooks(that come off without leaving a mark)on my back door and hung them there so I wouldn't forget them when I left. I still do sometimes but not as much! I found ones I love at Target for $1.00 and a large one at Ikea for .79.

3. Fluorescent Lights

They are more expensive than regular bulbs but it is true they last longer. We bought 1 or 2 packs every couple of weeks until our house was converted as much as it could be. I have not changed 1 of my fluorescent bulbs since we put them in over a year ago and before I was changing them about every 3 months. They certainly have paid for them self!

4. Buy Local-(within a hundred miles)

This has truly been the hardest.  Over time I found local bakeries and dairies and a store that carries mostly local produce.  I take advantage of the local farmers market and other farms and orchards in the area canning and freezing my finds.  I even froze my own pesto and besides the Parmesan it was all local.  I don't know if I have saved one penny in this endeavour but I know I have contributed to my local economy and that makes me happy.
* did you know that if every US citizen ate one meal a week organically and locally grown or raised (with in 100 miles) we would reduce our country's oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels of oil a week! Think for a moment how much it cost to ship bananas to the local grocery store. They are harvested, trucked, flown, shipped, and trucked before they get to our local grocery store all using oil!

5. Recycling

This we love we started out slow and worked up to full blown recycling right down to the tags on clothes. We use our roadside program but they only come every other week and we are a family of 6 so we visit the local recycling center at least once a week and the kids love it! The love sorting the recycling and learning more and more about it every time we go. We have went from 2 heaping garbage cans a week to one partly full one. It makes wish we had been doing it all along!

6. Buying Used Clothes

This is not my favorite event in my life but I truly have found some great basic pieces for a steal-a jean skirt for .50 and silk PJ's for a 1.00 I am not great at this one but I will continue to buy more and more used clothing. I even know some people that trade clothes amongst themselves and that works for them I however am not that organized enough and will not pick up that habit in the near future.

7. Shorter Showers and Shallower Bathes

This was hard for some in our home. The shallower bathes came easier and shorter showers were harder but we have one that could take a 30 minute shower no problem and now is down to 10 minutes. We all shave at the sink now and we turn the water off when we are brushing our teeth. I researched a little bit and it takes less water to run our particular dishwasher which I will add I was grateful for because I don't know if I could make that sacrifice. All in all we cut our water bill down over $10 a month.

8. No More Water Bottles

I used to be a huge consumer of water bottles(did you know it takes oil to make plastic). Those days are gone. We started with cute Dora, Spiderman, and Diego water bottles in Easter baskets. Then added to the grown up collection some we found at Walgreen's for .99(they were full of emergency stuff so they really were a steal, because we took the stuff out and added them to our 72 hour kits-extra bonus for you they still have them). . I was at a local dollar store one day and quickly added Nemo, Cars, and Princesses to our water bottle collection. We have a spot for them in our cupboard just like plates and every other thing and my kids now fill them up for themselves every morning and they find their spot lined on the back of the counter.  This was one of the easier things we did to go green!

9. Greener Cleaners

There are a lot of these out there. Some of my favorites are Method at Target, Seventh Generation(if you have child with eczema this laundry detergent is for you) at Walgreen's, and Simple Green has a naturals line I love. Vinegar is great too and baking soda works well too. Do I still use bleach and Lysol? Of course I do just not as much and all the time in the winter. I just use them less.

10. Task Lighting

This started a few years ago and we weren't even thinking about saving energy it was just more of a convenience and had under cabinet lighting installed. We have added lamps in key places and we still have more to add. I don't know if this really saves energy but it makes me feel better.