Thursday, January 18, 2007

Top Ten Ways I am Making Every Day “Earth Day”

“It doesn't feel hotter to me.”
— George W. Bu

New Years Resolution 2007: Reduce My Ecological Footprint.

If you talk to anyone out there, they will admit they could be doing more to save the planet. An overused phrase, yes, but after watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, it took on a new meaning. While I am certainly no expert in this area (that’s my brother-in-law, Kevin) I can still educate myself and make more of an effort to be environmentally friendly.

Here’s how:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I’ve always been a fan of 2nd hand stuff and always recycled of course, but now we are getting really serious. We’re recycling stuff like batteries and donating unwanted household items to charity instead of pitching them. We also got a second recycling bin for glass, metal and plastic so we don’t just recycle the various newspapers and flyers that come to our house.
  1. Cloth Diapers instead of disposable. These just use water, a renewable resource, and some biodegradable soap to stay clean and don’t contribute a thing to landfill. Here’s an article you MUST read before deciding to use disposable diapers, which highlights that they are in fact NOT disposable and are a leading contributor to landfills. I love my cloth diapers; not only are they eco-friendly, but they save us a ton of money and are better for Noah's bum as they don't have all the chemicals in them that disposables have.
  1. Push-Reel Lawnmower. In one hour of operation, a conventional gas lawn mower (two-stroke) pollutes as much as 40 new cars. Just imagine how much pollution is being created in a typical suburb on a summer weekend! I love our quiet, pollutant-free push mower and it’s great exercise too!

  1. Reusable Shopping Bags: Bringing along reusable cotton bags for groceries and errand running.

  1. Biodegradable Soap: both dish soap and laundry detergent. Fortunately, these have become easier to find and much more affordable in recent years. We like the brand Biovert.

  1. Composting: I compost kitchen scraps, leaves, and grass trimmings. This, combined with recycling, cuts my garbage output by 50% and helps fertilize my garden, too!

  1. Energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescents use around 70% less energy than a regular bulb. This is an easy way to save energy for anyone. Just remember this – we learned that they burn out quite quickly when used with dimmers.

  1. Energy Saving: Using cold water to wash clothes to reduce hot water usage and by using a clothes line in summer. Also keeping thermostats lower and wearing a sweater instead of cranking the heat (which Danny always chides me for doing).

  1. Less a Car/Walking: Owning just one car for our family and leaving it at home more often for errand running and market shopping.

  1. Buying locally grown produce…in order to support local farmers and also eating more fresh, organic foods, which aren’t sprayed. According to the average meal in the US travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community. Also, frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

Interested in making some changes also? Visit action


J. H. Austin said...

Great tips. Question though: love buying local produce (and even more growing it for my own consumption), but if local strawberries are 2x the price of Californian, isn't that because it uses less energy to grow them in bulk in CA, then ship them up? The law of supply and demand dictating the prices, of course, not government interference. Wouldn't the eco-friendly choice be, say, buying the cheaper strawberries. I'd prefer to be proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Have you taken the time to review the other side of An Inconvenient Truth? There's a lot of proof that there is no such thing as global warming as well. Always good to take a look at both sides, I say.

Amber said...

Any tips on composting? I've wanted to for a long time but am deterred by the seemingly complicated process I have read about on the net (to do it properly). I really miss recycling living in Guatemala, even pop cans are thrown out with ordinary trash here! Plus it's fine to just throw your litter from car windows or walking down the street, that still amazes me to see people do it.

Aimée said...

Good questions, everyone! I’ll try to give a some short answers..
Jer-You Alaskans, you guys are special! Ecologically speaking, I don’t know the answer to your question, but I do know that those locally grown berries are going to taste 100% better than those mass produced, picked while green and shipped 3500miles.

Amber-I think people tend to over-complicate composting by insisting on the perfect bin, temperature, balance of materials, etc. I mean, I’ve seen a $200 composter online! Just remember, it’s been happening in nature a lot longer than we’ve been around with the special bins and trained worms (ok, maybe not trained!). All I do is try to have a balance of kitchen scraps and green material such as leaves or grass clippings. I have it in a pile in a partially sunny spot in the garden where there’s a breeze and a turn it often to allow air in (2x a week). It’s a 3 season compost and produces some pretty nice dark, rich soil. Oh, yea, be patient. If you have more questions, email me, as this is getting long!

Anonymous: I think the documentary is mostly held in question by the media and we all know who controls the media. I agree with your point about reviewing both sides though, and I have. While I do question the accuracy of some of Gore’s arguments, I applaud his efforts in raising awareness on how our actions affect our planet.

Anonymous said...

Some of the theories that were advanced for global cooling were based on an increase of suspended particulates in the air. We all recognize that science can be wrong, but the evidence seems to point to global warming, not global cooling. Regardless of your point of view on what's going to happen climatically over the next 10, 50, or 1,000 years, there is always merit on reducing your environmental footprint, and I strongly encourage everyone to do their part.

I also strongly encourage eating strawberries, and maple glazed duck, which is what we had for dinner

Zaak said...

What about making every day a Girth Day?

Oh, and I've become a neo-convervative: burn it all! Let the next generation pick through the ashes.

Anonymous said...

Aimee - Great to see that you and Danny are being proactive on this.

Jeremy - There is a good debate about this right now, started by an article in the Economist about ethical food. Although local food may taste better than factory-farmed produce, the energy and emissions question is not as clear. "Surely the case for local food, produced as close as possible to the consumer in order to minimise “food miles” and, by extension, carbon emissions, is clear? Surprisingly, it is not. A study of Britain's food system found that nearly half of food-vehicle miles (ie, miles travelled by vehicles carrying food) were driven by cars going to and from the shops. Most people live closer to a supermarket than a farmer's market, so more local food could mean more food-vehicle miles. Moving food around in big, carefully packed lorries, as supermarkets do, may in fact be the most efficient way to transport the stuff."

Anonymous - In fact, there is no "proof" that global warming is not happening now. The science is solid and scientists are all in agreement that climate change is real. Check out for a great resource (from all sides scientific) on the science of climate.

Anonymous said...

Aimee, great post. I agree that it's good to examine your habits from time to time and see if, with a little effort, changes could be made in lifestyle to have less of an impact on the earth. Really it comes down to living simply, and makes choices toward this end.


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