Go Green

I’ve been thinking a lot about environmental issues lately.  It’s sort of a soapbox issue for me, so I’ll try not to be all soap boxy about it, but I want to share a few facts and ask you what you’re doing for some ideas. 

One morning on NPR I heard that we throw away 2 million bottles an hour.

an hour!!!

That’s horrible.  Here are some other facts:

If we recycled every plastic bottle we used, we would keep 2 billion tons of plastic out of landfills.
We use enough plastic wrap to wrap all of Texas every year.

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours — or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!

To produce each week’s Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.
The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.

A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose — and even longer if it’s in the landfill.
The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.

The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.

(These stats were copied from http://members.aol.com/ramola15/funfacts.html and http://www.earth911.org).

So what do you do to help out the environment?  I’m always looking for new ideas.  Here’s what we do in our household:

  • Recycle plastic, aluminum, cardboard, glass, newspaper, and paper.
  • Compost
  • Bring bags to the grocery store (I have really cool ones that roll up so I can fit them in my purse/diaper bag.)
  • Cover Jack’s bum in Fuzzi Bunz.  I love these diapers.  My good friend Rachel let me borrow her size smalls, and a few weeks ago I went a little color crazy and bought mediums in periwinkle, aqua, baby blue, butter yellow, red, orange, yellow, blue, sage, green, turqoise, and white diapers to wrap up his cute little bottom.  Lest you look at the price of each diaper and turn up your nose at the cost, keep in mind that these diapers will fit Jack for at least another year. 
  • Hang out my clothes to dry.
  • Buy as much as possible from the farmer’s market.  This is difficult, because our farmer’s market isn’t very good, but I at least bought what I could.  One family who sells produce there also sells eggs (for only $1/dozen!!), and Amélie actually can actually tell the difference.  She doesn’t like grocery store eggs anymore.
  • Drive fuel-efficient vehicles.  Our car gets about 27 mpg, which is pretty good, and when Matt can he drives his motorcycle to work.  Of course, when he’s not driving his motorcycle, he’s driving his gas-guzzling Jeep, but hey…ya do what you can.

    Here’s where I want to improve:

  • Walk more.  Theoretically, I could walk to the store.  It’s kind of hard to do, though, with a baby and preschooler.  I’m pretty sure our frozen items would be mush by the time we got home.  Sometimes we walk to the library, but again, I could do better.
  • Use cloth wipes.  I’m already using the cloth diapers, so there’s really no reason why I can’t get some cloth wipes and throw them in the diaper pail.  Anyone have any good ideas about what to use? 
  • Use more energy efficient light bulbs. 
  • Eat more locally-grown and organic food.  I wish this option wasn’t so expensive, or I would have hopped on this band wagon long ago.  I need to squeeze more room for this food into my budget (like by cutting out my Diet Dr. Pepper addiction…or maybe not). 

    What else could I be doing?  I’d love some ideas.



7 responses to this post.

  1. Do you use your compost? Do you have a barrel or just a pile in the corner of the yard?


  2. It’s a soapbox issue for me, too. But since you asked what we all do to be greener, here goes.
    I need to compost, too, but don’t right now. Next year, I’m planning to have a garden again (finally), and that will help with buying local food and using whatever compost I have. (I’ve also just dug holes in my previous gardens and buried scraps.)
    Here are some other things we do at our house: Use almost all compact-fluorescent lightbulbs (because of this, we have electric bills in the winter of only $12-15/month!). We really try to work with the sun — catch the sunlight for heat and light when we can, and we have large expanses of glass. That also contributes to our low energy bills.
    I cook low-energy whenever I can, too. You can run a crockpot for like eight hours for a fraction of the cost of using the oven for an hour. Also, a microwave uses much less energy than the stove. One other thing related to feeding people: We hardly ever use paper or plastic plates or utensils. I can’t even begin to estimate how much styrofoam or plastic plates, cups, and silverware have been saved from the landfill. My mom gave us a big set of dishes, and I bought a bunch of silverware for cheap at the Salvation Army, and that’s what we use every time we have big groups over.
    My aspirations: I’d like to use the van or car less, but it’s really hard with two small children. And I haven’t switched over to cloth wipes/napkins and natural cleaning products, but someday, I’m going to.


  3. Posted by karmenl on October 19, 2007 at 6:24 am

    This is so cool. I have growing interest in this topic, but am not sure where to start living it out. Our family does not really do anything to help our environment. Why, as Christians are we not more concerned about this? Doesn’t that seem strange?


  4. Kelly, Matt does the composting (I just collect it in the kitchen), so I’m going to let him answer your question.

    Thanks for your list, Rachel. You are the greenest friend I have, and your recycling inspired me to up the ante on our own recycling. 🙂 I forgot to add that I want to switch to natural cleaning products, too.

    I agree, Karmen. I would think that the same Christians who argue so vehemently that God created the world might actually want to take care of it. However, that doesn’t often seem to be the case.


  5. Posted by Faith on October 19, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I want to go green! This is an area that I am also interested in becoming more educated about. Please share any books that you recommend!

    As of now, besides basic recycling, I don’t do much. I do have bags that I use for grocery shopping (a lot, we need like 10 for our big family)… which may be a bit selfishly motivated as I having all those random plastic bags everywhere in my house.

    I wanted to start cloth diapering with Ava a few months back, but I wimped out. I have a good friend who is so into it, she wants to write a book about it. Really. I wish I would have made the investment early on when I could have used them for all my kids!


  6. Posted by matt on October 19, 2007 at 9:59 am

    composting: we just use a pile in the corner of the yard. My goal is to find a barrel and somehow hoist it on it’s side so that I can turn it….the ‘corner of the yard’ variety doesn’t lend its’elf to turning very easily…and if it’s enclosed then it stays hotter and decomposes quicker. They make them and sell them (Yow! $250: http://www2.yardiac.com/long.asp?item_id=23193) or you can make your own (http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/agguides/hort/g06957.htm). There are different people who swear by different ways. The last house we had we used the stick kind where you throw sticks in to keep air flow. Wood actually makes excellent compost, but it takes a really long time to decompose. But I just like the run-of-the-mill kind and throw worms in when I find them (you can buy them and people swear by red worms as the best: ) and leave only ‘soft’items in it. Leaves compost really quickly but don’t add a lot of nutrients.


  7. Oh, I also have a rain barrel. It is not pretty, but I am saving for a rustic looking one. It takes me longer to water my plants, but it saves water and helps in a spot that we have a draining problem.
    I am anxious to start composting . . . wonder if I can start that in the winter months?
    One more thing . . . I am looking into chickens. We go through at least 4 dozen eggs a week, so I think that chickens would help. Plus, they eat ticks or so I’m told.


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