Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Green" goals for 2011

As you can probably tell, I like lists and goals. I’ve been thinking about ways to become more “green” around the house and I’ve come up with yet another list. I’m certainly not to the point of cloth toilet paper and eliminating trash 100%, but small steps toward being less wasteful work for me!

We already do a few things that are considered environmentally friendly. Probably the biggest one is that we moved close to work. My commute is 5 minutes. My husband’s commute is 10 minutes. Before we moved, we were commuting 35 minutes, one way. We did carpool, but it was still a long trip. So, moving to be closer to work has helped reduce our driving time by quite a bit. We also use cloth napkins, and we’re replaced all the bulbs in our apartment that we’re responsible for with CFLs. There are some fixtures that maintenance takes care of, so those bulbs are still standard or fluorescent.

Jan – Started using my klean kanteen, which I love. I didn’t buy plastic water bottles all the time, and I always reused them, but this way I’m set for use at work. I can’t say I’ll never buy a water bottle again, but this is a step in the right direction. I also want to come up with a natural air freshner for our office and master closet – both of which get stuffy and stinky for some reason. Well, I understand the closet getting stinky since we keep our shoes in there!

Feb – Start using our re-usable bags every time we go shopping – groceries, target, etc. Start carrying small bag in my purse for misc purchases and the library.

Mar – Wean off of paper towels; use flannel rags, dishcloths, etc instead.

April- Work on shutting computers off at night; talk to Dave about shutting off/unplugging power strips also. Work on getting as many electronics as I can onto power strips to make unplugging as painless as possible.

May – Start buying produce at the farmer’s market; try to keep this up all summer! Bring my own containers/bags so I don’t need plastic bags – maybe make some cotton drawstring bags for this. Our closest farmer’s market is only open May-Oct, so while I’d love to shop there all year, I just can’t at this point.

June – Make yogurt and chicken or veggie stock; get Ball glass jars for this (maybe at thrift store – but get new lids!!). I found this method for making chicken stock in the crocknpot, which sounds super easy:

July – No spend month! Obviously we’ll still pay bills and buy food, but no extra spending for me, not even at the thrift store! This is a good month for me to do a no-spend thing, since it’s one of the few months in which we don’t need to buy birthday presents and such.

August - Experiment with homemade cleaners (vinegar, baking soda, etc)

September – Research ways to reduce junk mail. I know there’s a way to get on a “do not mail” list and I need to work on that.

Oct – Start walking to/from work one day/week, on Fridays. I feel badly using my car for my 1.2 mile commute; however, like a lot of women, I don’t want to deal with the shoe issue! Most of my professional shoes are just not suitable for walking long distances and I don’t want to schlep a second pair to work. My job has the wonderful dress-down Friday, so walking on Fridays will be relatively painless, since I can wear comfy shoes. I will need to pack my lunch and also bring my ipod since the break room gets really loud and annoying at lunch time.

November – Research community recycling options. Our apartment only has a dumpster – not separate recycling containers. Right now, everything just goes into the dumpster, even stuff I know is recyclable. So, I want to see if there are nearby places where we can take our recycling. It will have to be convenient; otherwise I won’t do it.

December – try cloth pads (such as lunapads); if I like them, use them full time. Or, if they aren’t practical for a work day, use them at night when I’m at home. This is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while anyway. When I had a communal washer and dryer I was more hesitant, but now that we have a washer and dryer of our very own, it makes sense to give it a try.

All the time – work on not wasting food, using less soap/shampoo/conditioner/etc, turning lights off in rooms I’m not using, wear slippers and a sweater before automatically turning up the heat (in summer, wear loose cotton dresses before turning on AC), work on planning one meat-free dinner/week.

Even with implementing all these changes we still won’t be perfect environmentalists. But I’m ok with that for now – every little bit helps, right?

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