Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Little Things Can Make a Big Difference!

by Anna Sugden

It’s a beautiful spring day -- the sun is shining, the birds are singing and squirrels and chipmunks scamper (at least they will until my cats go outside). The sky is bright blue with white wispy clouds. The trees and bushes, which only last week were winter-bare, have exploded in a profusion of leaves and flowers. The air is fresh; summer’s humidity hasn’t set in yet.

A perfect Earth Day.

Is it too much to hope that future generations -- our children’s children and beyond -- will be able to enjoy the Earth as much as we do?

I must admit, I’m not a stridently ‘green’ person. I like to do what I can to help. But, I am not prepared to compromise my life too much to do it.

What I’ve learned, this year, is that you can make lots of little, seemingly insignificant, changes to your life and they add up to a much bigger change. Imagine if we all made those little changes … the impact would be huge.

It is easy to make a difference, if we think about three important tenets:

1. Use less
2. Reuse/recycle
3. Reduce waste


If you're like me, you need practical tips. I’ve listed below, ten things that are easy to do, which barely inconvenience our lives and yet which can help our planet.

1. Bottled Water - drinking tap water is ideal. But, if you prefer to drink bottled water, then make sure you choose brands which are made locally or in the same country (think how much energy is spent to transport bottled water!). Buy water dispensers instead of cases of plastic bottles. Re-use or recycle the plastic bottles.

2. Shopping Bags - ideally, use your own instead of taking the store’s bags. But, if that’s not convenient, ensure that you reuse the bags and/or recycle them. eg you can use them to line bins, get rid of pet waste etc.

3. Lightbulbs - changing to Energy Star lightbulbs can significantly reduce the amount of energy you use. The bulbs last much longer too, so you spend less on lightbulbs, lower your energy costs and reduce the waste from lightbulb packaging.

4. Car journeys - can you reduce the number of car journeys you make in a week by 1? Can you walk, take public transport, cycle or car pool for one more journey a week?

5. Billing - many firms offer paperless billing and paperless payment. Not only does this cut down on the paper used, think of the energy used to transport both the bill and the payment.

6. Reduce food waste - make a shopping list and stick to it - a great way to reduce food waste. We all do it -- buy more than we need, buy food we think we need, only to find we had some, and then throw out food that is past its sell-by date. This is especially true around the holidays.

7. Use colder water - with the quality of laundry detergents and washing machines today, it is possible to wash clothes at significantly colder water than we used to. 40 or even 30 degrees is sufficient. For lightly soiled clothes, often cold water will do. And don't forget to reduce how often you use your tumble drier ... can you dry clothes in the sun? Or use the central heating and drying racks?

8. Change your thermostat by 1 degree - set it to be cooler by one degree in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer. Get a timer on your thermostat so that you don’t waste energy overnight or while you are out. You’d be surprised by how little difference one degree can make to how it feels, but what a difference it makes to the energy consumed (and to your bills!)

9. Buy local produce and goods - wherever possible, choose goods and produce that have not had to be transported over great distances.

10. Plant a tree - the best way to redress the balance in the energy chain is to plant a tree. Many companies are now doing this - we, as individuals, can too.

Hopefully, you can see that none of these suggestions is too onerous. Maybe there are one or two that you hadn’t thought about which you could incorporate into your daily life.

If we all try to make these little changes in our life, it really will add up to a great big difference.

Do you have any hints or tips that you can share with us? Are you dark green or light green? Are there things that you do now, that you weren’t doing a couple of years ago, to help the Earth?

55 comments:

Shannyn said...

Hi - Can it be the GR is back in Illinois?

Shannyn said...

I'd say I'm light green. I grew up in Chicago and recycling never happened. Even as a teacher, years later, the city supplied blue bins to recycle paper. We watched these bins get tossed in the regular dumpsters, so recycling never clicked with me.

Now that I have kids and a house in the burbs where we have a separate recycling can and a separate truck that picks it up, we have totally cut back on trash thrown out.

With 3 small children, we don't really waste a lot of food, so that isn't an issue.

For us, cutting back on energy is the toughest one. We all leave more lights on than necessary. Part of that is because I hate having a dark house - it makes me feel like a vampire. We don't use lights during the day because we get plenty of light through our windows (lots of windows on a corner lot). We've tried switching to the curly fluorescent bulbs, but they really don't last as long as the 5 years they say.

Overall, I think as a family we've put in some effort, but we still have a long way to go.

Trish Milburn said...

I admit it -- I'm a card-carrying greenie. :) Good list, Anna.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Shannyn, congrats on the GR! Woo-hoo, give that Rooster a Cubs shirt! (Big W flying over Wrigley tonight...yeah!) Or are you one of the "OTHER" Chicago fans? Grins.

In answer to your question, Anna, I'm a certifiable recycle queen, a nice rich forest green. Grins. Just planted two more trees in the yard - a plum and a birch - and I wash off tin foil so I can recycle it. I give my boys "the look" if they don't rinse things out and recycle them. I've even got my DH more in the recycling groove. It amazes me each trash day how few bags of trash there are, when the paper bin is full and the cans/bottle bin is full.

Shannyn, I know a lot of places where the recycle used to get trashed, but these days, counties and states are hurting for dump space so they're finally on board too. :> My own county, near DC is almost overboard...they've got a 60% waste reduction goal by 2010 or something amazing like that.

Oh, I greencycle too. Yard trim, compost...it's the garden girl in me...Did I mention that forest green's one of my fav colors? Snork.

Great post, Anna! Happy Earth day everyone. Go plant a tree!

catslady said...

I was born to be green :) Being a pack rat, I try to find a use and reuse for many things. Junk mail becomes scratch paper. Bags are reused (plastics get washed), food containers reused or recycled. I'm now buying those lightbulbs that last 5 yrs. and use less energy. Food is rarely thrown away. If I don't eat it as leftovers I at least give it to the ferals or wildlife. This new throw away world drives me crazy.

Jane said...

I'm only a light green. I don't drink bottled water unless I'm out. I use the EnergyStar light bulbs, I don't drive because I live in NY and I wash clothes in cold water. On the other hand, I still get paper statements and get plastic bags at the supermarket. I have to remember to bring a tote bag with me when I go shopping.

Anna Campbell said...

Anna, what an inspiring post! You're right. It is easy to make small changes that make a big difference!

I tend to only drink bottled water if I'm out and I need to buy something because I'm thirsty. Good old tap water does otherwise! And I don't drive (wimpdom rather than greendom) so I have a clear conscience on that front. I also print on both sides of my paper whenever I can. Think - that's a 50% reduction in paper use!

I think some of this is because I grew up on a farm and there never was much fat to be wasted, if you know what I mean. Goodness, Mum used to even wash plastic bags for reuse! Weird to think my parents' frugal habits have now become the ethical standard!

In Australia, not enough water is always a big problem. Where I live now, we actually escaped the crippling drought that's gone on for 10 years but I picked up a lot of great tips from people who were in areas with draconian water restrictions. One that I do fairly religiously because it is such a minor inconvenience is use my waste water on the garden. I live in a big sprawling ranch-style house and it takes forever to get hot water in the kitchen. All that lovely clean water used to just go down the sink. Now I've got a bucket to catch the cold water and then I put it on the plants. The plants love it and honestly it's no big deal!

Goodness, I'm feeling quite green all of a sudden. Might go and turn a light on before all that goody-two-shoesness turns my head!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Shannyn, congratulations on the Rooster!!! He's a bit of a flirt at the moment, so watch yourself!

Donna MacMeans said...

I'm a light green. I recycle regularly, but I think as an accountant who keeps backup paper records for my clients who habitually lose theirs - I generate too much paper waste to be dark green. I try to use energy saving light bulbs when I can. I have been known to let the lawn go dormant and let plants wither and die rather than water them, but that's more laziness than a conscienous effort to be green *g*. I do combine errands so as to make only one trip a day in my fuel hog of an SUV. So I'm trying - okay?

Minna said...

Jane and Anna, here's a tip as how to avoid buing bottled water and how to keep the water cool: save a couple of those plastic water bottles. Put water in them and put them in the freezer the previous day. Remember to take them with you when you are going out. They'll melt in the sun and you have cold water to drink. And you don't have to waste your money for bottled water which probably isn't quite as clean as it looks, anyway(I've heard that there tend to be a lot more bacteria in it than in tap water).

Minna said...

And I don't know in what kind of coffee bags you buy your coffee, but here they are really good quality and total waste if you don't do something out of them, like a bag, a raincoat, an Indian tent for the kids etc.

Minna said...

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Minna said...

http://images.google.fi/images?um=1&hl=fi&rlz=1G1GGLQ_FIFI261&q=%22kahvipussin+uusi+el%C3%A4m%C3%A4%22+&btnG=Etsi+kuvia

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Minna, what a great idea! I think it's just training myself to remember to take the bottle with me when I go. It always annoys me to pay a couple of dollars for something they probably got out of the tap in first place anyway!

Minna said...

I always have a couple of frozen water bottles with me when I ride by bicycle all the way (over 10 kilometers) to the village and back at summer. One is melting in the sun and the others are in the thermo bag that keeps them from melting. I usually have 3 bottles with me: 2 to drink and one to keep whatever I buy in the shop cool until I get back home. Of course, if the day is really hot I'll just take one more bottle with me.

Annie West said...

Hi Anna,

Great post. Thank you. The thing we're doing more now is turning off appliances at the wall when not in use. It's amazing the number of things that have standby lights. I really don't need those lights on in the middle of the night!

As you say, thinking about how often we need to go out and trying to do several of those things on one car trip makes a huge different (to time and to petrol consumption).

Cheers,
Annie

Helen said...

Congrats on the GR again Shannyn

Great post Anna I am light green I do all of the things that you have suggested I have a couple of big trees in our yard which I and the birds love even if the neighbours don't.
I encourage recycling at work as well and we at home get a lot of our bills on line now so we aren't killing trees.
I really hope that all future generations get to see the wonderful things that we have had in our lifetimes.

Have Fun
Helen

Caren Crane said...

Anna, I have been pretty dark green since I was a child. There was no mass recycling when I was a girl, but we recycled everything we could. My mother would load the station wagon with recyclables and go to the industrial recycling places across town. I'm sure the guys there thought she was crazy - certainly our neighbors didn't "get" it!

My mother is still my hero. She has compost bins for food scraps even now! Of course, coffee grounds make GREAT compost, so coffee drinkers take heed! *g*

Unfortunately, the recycling available to us where I live now is very limited. Only #4 plastics and aluminum cans, as well as newspaper. Finding a place to recycle steel is tough around here! Should be better in a few years, as dump space is getting to be a bigger issue. It's the problem with living in a Big Country - too much space people are willing to fill with garbage!

brownone said...

Well, I can't say I'm totally green but I am probably light green. I recycle my shopping bags by lining my garbage cans and taking them back to the store. And when I'm at the store I try to fill them up with as much as possible so I use less (I usually like to bag my own groceries). All the bulbs in my house have been changed to the energy efficient ones and now they come where they look like a regular bulb rather than that crazy spiral thingy. We have a well so we use bottled water. I just take my gallon jugs and refill them at the grocery store rather than buy new ones. It saves money big time and I buy less. And as far as my appliances are concerned, I buy the Energy Star ones. I just replaced my stove and refrigerator with new ones. Oh, and I rarely use my dishwasher. Maybe I'm not too light green now that I think about it. Maybe an aquamarine...

Gillian Layne said...

My parents farm, so recycling was simply "don't waste anything!" Driving is my biggest bad habit; in a small town it's a necessity. My girls keep me on my toes about a lot of the rest of it. They are growing up with a much different mindset than my generation had. It's a good thing! :) I know I should do better. I try to do one little thing at a time, such as switching lightbulbs each time I need to buy them.

I'm all for tap water whenever possible as well. My dentist says bottled water is why we have a new generational batch of cavities--no fluoride!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Good morning all! Brownone, I had to LOL about bagging your own groceries. I started this in self-defense, or maybe it was egg-defense. The kids who were bagging at my local market would put the eggs on the bottom. I would dutifully take them back in, get my money back...got tired of return trips! I bag a LOT more efficiently than most of them so I don't end up carrying that many bags home when I forget my canvas totes. (Which I ususally do)

Gillian, I had never thought about the flouride thing until my son's dentist asked if he drank tap water. I was so surprised by the question, but he explained about the non-flouridated bottled water creating a whole batch of unprotected kids teeth. Wow. It's the little things. As an adult I forget about flouridated water!

Terry Odell said...

Why don't I see "read e-books" on your list? I invested in a relatively inexpensive eBookwise and whenever possible, that's how I get books. Paper books can't be recycled--they go into landfill.

From your list, I guess I'm a 'dark shade of medium green'.

I don't buy bottled water unless I'm traveling.

I've got a dozen canvas totes in my car for shopping and recycle any plastic bags in the grocery store bins. Love it when the bagger says, "Paper or plastic?" and I say, "No" and toss my bags at him (gently, of course)

Where the fixutures permit, we use the flourescent bulbs

I bought a new car with a low emissions rating that gets about 30 mpg, and I try to limit trips to one a day. If I forget something, it waits.

Could do better on food waste, but if it's vegetable matter, we compost it.

I'm about 50% paperless billing. I pay most bills on line, but I need that paper bill or statement--can't trust internet access enough for access to records when I need them.

Cold water -- always, for laundry (helps that the cold in Florida is probably luke-warm in other parts of the country)

Rarely run heat; run the a/c at 80 during the day, but have to have it much cooler at nigh so I can sleep.

I buy what my grocery stores carry. A lot of it is local, thank goodness.

We've got lots of trees in our yard. No room to plant more here, but it's something to watch for. We did participate in a tree-planting (all we did was pay the money) thing in South Africa.

We always remember Earth Day because in 1990 on Earth Day, my husband became "Point of Light" #122.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I'd say we're a kelley green. We live in the land of ubber SUV's and hummers...(who really needs one of those in the suburbs?), so my Toyota Camry is very conservative on gas, and other than driving to work, I always combine my errands to one trip every couple of days.

We recycle boxes, bottles and any plastic bottles we use, but the bottles are few. We have an Ozarka water dispenser with refillable 5 gallon jugs, so there is less waste there. I do turn off as many lights, appliances and computers as I can.

Given that I work nights, I have to keep my house on the cool side in order to sleep during the day, so it's expensive during the summer, but in the winter we hardly have minimum electric and hardly any gas heating bills.

We don't read paper newspapers, and only a few magazines which get recycled. About half my bills are on paperless cycles.

We have a swimming pool that we converted to a saline pump with a timer to help reduce both chemical waste and conserve energy. And since Rocky swims daily in the summer with me, we don't waste water washing the dog! :)

Anna Sugden said...

Congrats on nabbing that pesky wittle wooster, Shannyn. Ah Chicago - home of the Blackhawks - one of my fave teams, aside from my beloved Devils.

You're doing great, Shannyn - every little bit helps! Light is one of my issues too - I like brightness!

Trish - I'm married to one - does that count?!

Anna Sugden said...

Jeanne - the compost queen. We do that a lot at home. I don't know if it's one of those post-war things or because we have such a small country that there isn't room for much landfill. More and more people are returning to it because of the organic move.

There are quite a few people who don't use chemical pesticides, but who use natural ones - plants which discourage certain insects or attract predator insects.

Anna Sugden said...

Catslady - sounds like you're a dark greenie! It drives me crazy when I can't recycle/reuse or give away stuff and it has to be thrown away or dumped. We had that recently with a really good, clean, guest bedroom mattress - it was only being got rid of because the base was gone. Couldn't give it away, even if I offered to drive it there myself. *big sigh*

Anna Sugden said...

Jane - you're doing great! Where in NY do you live - we're over the river from you in NJ!

Foanna - I print two pages on one and then shred the paper instead of just tossing it. Amazing the difference it makes isn't it?!

Back home we always have water shortage problems so we reuse water on the garden too.

Very few people have tumble driers too (small houses), so we tend to dry our clothes on the line or on racks by radiators.

Anna Sugden said...

You're doing great, Donna. Trying is half the battle. With a dark green husband *grin* I'm learning lots of little tricks to ensure that I can live the life I want without too much compromise, yet we're helping the environment too.

Minna - fabulous tip! For those of you who don't like the taste of your local tap water (ours is yuck!) a Britta filter jug helps!

Anna Sugden said...

Annie - that is an excellent idea about turning appliances off at the wall. See, I'm learning new things to try!

Yay Helen - trees are so important for so many reasons!

Caren - I believe a lot of our generation's parents were into reuse/recycle from necessity. For us, it was the after-effects of the War and rationing. Even the Queen is known to be frugal, as a result! I'm glad to see things changing back.

Anna Sugden said...

Brownone - sounds like you're a nice rich green to me. Energy efficient appliances are big now back home too -it's amazing the difference that a well-designed appliance can make to energy consumption.

Gillian - it is good to see the younger generation stepping up to the challenge of helping the environment! And your dentist is right about the water - fluoride was put into tap water for a reason!

Anna Sugden said...

Waving at Terry O - great to see you! Hugs about your husband - it makes Earth Day even more special.

I didn't mention e-books because I'm so old-fashioned! I like the paper feel. And, I admit, I rarely get rid of books. If I do, I give them away to charities and/or shelters/old people's homes. But, it's a great point.

On paperless billing - printing it out is still better than it and your payment being transported - plus you don't have the envelopes. See - it all helps!

Anna Sugden said...

Kelley green? I sense the influence of our Joanie *grin*

One of the things I'll miss when we go home is air conditioning. Not that our summers are very hot - but there are always a few days where it is unbearable and opening the windows just won't cut it!

I suppose I could invest in a hunk to wave one of those big fans over me - hubby wouldn't mind too much, would her?!

Gillian Layne said...

Hey, "Earth Day" Banditas and brilliant guests, I have a no-pesticide question-

How should I attempt to get rid of these tiny little ants that have now returned (springtime!) and have invaded my kitchen? We've cleaned and the food is tucked far away and bagged. Any suggestions, or am I doomed to spray? This is a "whole neighborhood" problem according to my neighbors, if that helps.

Nancy said...

Shannyn, congratulations on grabbing the rooster!

Anna, thanks for a thoughtful post. We probably qualify as light green. We recyle paper and plastic, and we'll be planting a dogwood tree in the yard this spring. I'm hoping for some crepe myrtle, too, but we'll see. We prefer to deal with local businesses in general, so we do some of our food shopping there, but probably not the majority.

We're bad about the bottled water thing. I switched to bottles when I was trying to track consumption, and they travel better to the gym than the refillables. OTOH, there are alternatives. I try not to leave lights burning, but I go upstairs sometimes and find that the boy has left every light blazing in the process of preparing for school.

When I was growing up, we had a disposall in the sink, which meant that very little food trash (citrus and melon rind, eggshells, etc) went into the trash. However, running the thing used electricity. We don't have one now, and I wonder whether we'd be greener if we did, or just enlarge our carbon footprint by running it.

I do a lot of laundry in cold water and hang a lot of it on a drying rack, but that's because I'm tall and can't afford shrinkage, not from any noble motive.

Catslady, I'm a packrat, too, but not as good at reusing as you are. I do recycle the catalogs, though.

Minna, that's a great idea about the bottles. When I was growing up, my mother used to freeze a jug of water before we set off on a long car trip. As it melted, we had iced water, but I'd completely forgotten that until I saw your post.

Anna Sugden said...

Uggh Gillian - we've had that problem too. I don't know about no-pesticide options, but, because we have cats, we use the 'ant traps' instead of sprays - they work really well. Raid and TAT do the best ones

Anna Sugden said...

Great job, Nancy. I think it's a tough call as to which route is better. One of the big issues with all this green stuff is that sometimes the apparent solution is worse, because of the energy consumption. To really understand it involves an in-depth cradle-to-grave analysis. That's something my hubby's involoved with right now.

We switched from the disposal to a composting bin.

Kirsten said...

Anna, I'm so proud to see your blog up there today with such a great, practical list of things to do.

I work for an energy utility, so I think about these issues ALL THE TIME. It can be extremely depressing, actually, when you look at projections for future energy use (hint: when India and China start using energy at the rate the US uses it, we're all in big trouble!).

That aside, changing our lifestyles here and now makes a huge difference! It's not easy, and sometimes you have to really plug away at yourself. After months of training, I've only just now gotten in the habit of bringing my bags to the grocery store. You wouldn't think this would be so hard, but I always seemed to forget! And now that I remember, I'm astonished how much less plastic bag waste we generate.

I think this green thing just starts to become a new way of looking at things. I was wrapping presents for birthday parties this weekend and decided to pull the magazines out of the recycling bin and use them for wrapping paper. I bought a loaf of bread and looked for one made locally.

Unplugging or turning off appliances at the wall is a HUGE one, Annie! Good on you! It's incredible how much energy is wasted through these "passive" appliance. (Passive my foot!)

I would encourage everyone to look at their utility bills and see what green options their electric utility offers -- you may be able to contribute directly to renewable energy resources, or decrease the new for new resources (like those ol' coal plants) by using energy at "off-peak" hours or signing up for a green/renewable rate.

I would give a huge pat on the back to everyone who carpools, combines trips, uses mass transit, or (gasp!) walks/bikes to work. Transportation is a huge piece of this puzzle.

Earth Day Hugs to Everyone!!

Cassondra said...

Hmmm.

I'm fairly dark green by nature. And yet, the inconvenience and aggravation of some of it (where I live) makes my green fade a little.

Those "good" light bulbs? They're dim. I'd have to use a 100-watt equivalent to get 60-watts worth of light, and many of the fixtures won't take those higher watt bulbs. I recently installed the curlycue substitutes in all my kitchen recessed fixtures and it's so dark in there that I feel like I'm cooking in a cave (and there are nine--yes NINE fixtures in there) I hate to try to cook in the dark. So I'll go back to the regular floods until they come up with a better product.

Here they have recycling trucks that come by--in the REST of the county--but not on my road or other roads with sparse populations. The population is too low, so we get left out. They figure it's not worth it I guess--but that bothers me. The choice to participate is purely a financial one on the part of the city/county gov'ts. I understand that--and I know that's the way it is. But as an individual who would like to recycle, I have to let garbage pile up into a mess, then load it up and take it into town to three different recycle centers in order to participate. I do it, but not as much as I'd like.

I wish they'd mandate that the entire county be covered by the pickup. I don't mind the small extra charge on my utility bill (it's like $4 per month here), which I don't have to pay now, but would do so gladly if the service were provided.

The water from my tap is so chemically treated that it smells like chlorine bleach coming out of the faucet. So we do bottled water, but we buy the gallons and refill the small bottles for travel, or we use a glass. Anna, I've been after one of those Brita pitchers for a couple of years now and haven't managed to get one. I think I'll address that this week so thanks for the reminder. I HATE the cost and the waste that bottled water creates. I grew up with well water and it tasted SO good. I really miss it. Municipal water is awful.

I reuse everything--plastic bags, aluminum foil, etc. I never use paper or foam plates or cups if I can help it. I just refuse to buy and eat on something that gets thrown away. It's my depression-era parents and my "don't be wasteful" upbringing I suppose.

There are 27 trees in my yard and I love every one. People see the walnuts falling all over my yard and sidewalk and say "why don't you cut that down?" My husband will say to them, "Cassondra didn't buy a house. She bought some trees with a house attached." And that's the truth.

Christie Kelley said...

Okay, until the remodel I put more out on recycling day than anyone else in my neighborhood. But with the upheaval, I still haven't gotten back to where I want to be. I will say that as we put new lights in, they are all the energy saving ones.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey VA, thanx for being our "conscience" on Earth Day!

Congrats on the GR, Shannyn. Hope he's enjoying springtime in Chicago.

Cassondra, my tap water is the same as yours. Smells just like an over clorinated pool! UGH! I have a Brita pitcher, and while it does take up quite a bit of room in my rather small fridge, it's totally worth it! So is freezing the plastic bottles, though I only fill them half-way and fill the other half with cold water, so I can drink right away.

We live in a fairly small (less than 200 units) condo complex and my DH is known throughout as the Recycle Guy. People leave bags of cans and bottles outside our gate (much to my dogs' irritation). The other thing that KILLS me is all the perfectly good stuff people toss when they move! The DH and I try to stop people whenever we can and "rescue" stuff before they toss it. I can't tell you how many perfectly good towels, sheets, and TOYS we have donated to the local homeless shelter that were destined for the local landfill.

You are SOOO RIGHT, VA! Even one little thing helps!

Happy Earth day all,
AC

Anna Sugden said...

Kirsten - I know what you mean about those projections - scary stuff! Especially as with new freedom and more disposable income, they will have the attitude we had 10 years ago!

Cassondra - the same was true in our old home town back in the UK. We have become much more avid recyclers with the pick-up than we ever were when we had to make a special trip to the recycling centre - that whole thing about compromising life again.

Another sadness about the Big Move is that we won't have plants in the garden this summer.

Anna Sugden said...

Christie - I'm sure the big remodel includes loads of energy saving features!

AC - it annoys me too what people toss instead of donating. Here, the Vietnam Vets Assoc. take pretty much anything and will recycle what they can't use. Scratty sheets and towels or clothes are shredded to provide filler. I noticed that the Lupus Society has started the same thing.

jo robertson said...

Anna, what a wonderful reminder to us. Honestly, we can't be urged too often to go green.

Yay, Shannyn!

For Christmas my middle daughter -- whom we call Mother Earth -- bought us all those sturdy recyclable grocery sacks. And they are amazing!! I've found so many uses for them and the folks at Trader Joe's are especially cooperative about putting the items in the bags.

Jane said...

Hey Anna,
I live in Manhattan. Where are you in Jersey?

Anna Sugden said...

Jane - we're in Cresskill, a small town near Englewood (Bergen County) - at least we are until this summer when we move back home to England.

Jo - good for your daughter! One of the big things back home, with the growing trend to internet grocery shopping (which is one thing I'm really looking forward to having again!), is having the groceries delivered in a tray - no bags! (And no dreaded trip to the supermarket!)

Minna said...

And what about fleamarkets -or trading? I have done some of that, trading stuff that I don't need for something that I need or collect, but someone else doesn't. Right now I have lots of small stuff to trade. Stamps, coverflats or Winnie-the-Pooh cards, anyone? And, hey, who knows what you might get by trading. That red paperclip guy got a house that way. http://www.1redpaperclip.com/tradingpost/

Beth said...

Great post, Anna. I love all your tips *g*

I'd say I'm a light green - I reuse plastic bags, use energy saving light bulbs, unplug appliances that aren't in use, and with the way my kids eat, there's very rarely food to waste :-)

doglady said...

God bless the guys in the Geek Squad! They fixed my computer while I waited. Of course if it crashes again I will go after them with a machete! Turns out I needed more RAM. (whatever that is. Cost me 100 bucks to get what I needed.) I was afraid I would be without my computer for a week or more. YAY!

Congrats on the GR, Shannyn. He truly is the king of the cads!

I've always tried to be environmentally aware. I have used the big canvas tote bags for my groceries, etc since I returned from Germany. When I first moved to this little town the people in the stores weren't happy with it, but now more people are doing it so it isn't so bad. I try to keep a couple of them in my car at all times.

Wal-Mart has a big recycle campaign going on so I can recycle my water bottles. I have left a great deal of my five acres wild so I think I have the tree thing covered.

I have never been one to leave lights burning as even though he has been gone for ten years I can still hear my Dad's voice saying "Turn off that light. I don't own the electric company."

I only live 8 miles from work so I don't drive very much at all. I try not to drive anywhere on my day's off.

I have bird feeders, bird baths, racoon feeders, butterfly houses and bat houses on my property. Bats are GREAT pest control.

Minna said...

And what about fixing old things instead of always buying something new or making new things out of old stuff? We have this fabulous Kirppis (fleamarket) program on TV and they always give some great tips. Unfortunately the pages are in Finnish, but there are plenty of pictures...
http://kirppis.yle.fi/

Minna said...

And one more thing about bottles... I remember seeing in Ripley's Believe it or Not this guy who had built himself a floating island from plastic bottles and all that other garbage he had found from the beach. Now how cool is that?

Anna Sugden said...

Minna - trading is a great idea. I know people who fund their writing careers through selling stuff on ebay too.

Beth - I bet eating those chocolate covered sunflower seeds is environmentally friendly too!

Doglady - Germay is definitely way ahead of the game when it comes to Green.

Anna Sugden said...

Ah yes, Minna - you Finns are pretty nifty when it comes to Green too.

Isn't it funny how these days it's often cheaper and more convenient to get something new than get things fixed. I think manufacturers deliberately build in a self-destruct feature, so that things go kaput one day after the warranty expires ... and they make it so hard to get things fixed, we don't bother!

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks to everyone who took part in our celebration of Earth Day! Lots of great tips!

Joan said...

Green? Green? Did somebody say green? As in Ireland green? :-)

Just getting back in the groove after flying in from Ireland last evening. Sad to say I noted a lot of litter along Ireland roads (when I actually took my eyes OFF the road) and even in some of their castles....

I recycle plastics, glass, newspapers, aluminum etc. I wish I could get use to the idea of reusable bags for groceries (though I'm with Jeanne...let ME put the items in...no two or three cans per plastic bag)but opt for paper.

My "lawn boy" has a mulching mower so no yard waste.

Wish I could get into the online bill paying but I so often rely on those two days till payday mailings before it gets taken out of the 'ole account :-)

Anna Sugden said...

YAYYYY!! Our Joanie is back in the Lair - welcome home!!

Glad to see it's not just the shamrocks and Blarney that make you green *grin*