Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Green Challenge #1

In my head, the title goes along with the "Da-da-duh - GREEN GIANT" tune. I've spent entirely too much time in front of the TV. :)

When The Man and I were living together for the first time, we were very na├»ve. Our rent was half of what our mortgage now is. We worked 10-20 minutes away. We spent every waking moment spending money on something and complained about how broke we were. We smoked. We didn’t save money. We didn’t recycle.

Well, that’s not entirely true. We recycled paper. I had a grocery bag propped next to the garbage can that we put paper in. When it was overstuffed, it made its way outside. Where it sat, usually until it started to decompose. Also, after a while, we started throwing our soda cans in a big box outside for my step-grandpa to take for the boy scouts. My reasoning for not recycling anything else was that we didn’t use much of it. A couple glass jars here, some steel cans there. What did it really matter, anyway?

The true reason? My garbage company made me rinse everything out. (Who wants to wash garbage??) And sort them out. (Who wants to organize garbage??) And carry the little plastic tote they gave me down my long-assed driveway on the *special* garbage day. Really, who has that much time?

Between the sale of that house and the purchase of this one, we stayed in a duplex in a different city. There, our recycling can looked exactly like our garbage can. Both large carts on wheels. And we didn’t have to sort anything.

I don’t know if it was because I was pregnant (pregnancy overwhelmed me with this feeling that I had to save the world - or at least make it a little better) or what, but I decided to try it. I set up one bag for paper and one for all the other recyclables next to the garbage. The rinsing still got to me. It felt like a lot of work just to get rid of something. But soon, I noticed that our recycling cart was full before the garbage one. [Insert immense feeling of guilt here.] I had been throwing all of that into the same bin, to be taken to the same landfill, dumped in the same heap - and all the while, I could have saved over half of that stuff. And not only saved that space at the landfill, but also saved the precious natural resources it used, the production costs – both economically and environmentally - that it took to make that one can or jar or bottle.

I was something short of devastated to find they didn’t have such a wonderful recycling program in my new town. In fact, the friend I had living out here already told me they didn’t recycle AT ALL. I called my new garbage company determined to change their ways - and they offered me the standard tote for an $8 deposit. I really wanted to use all the same excuses I did in the first house. Sorting, lugging that stupid thing to the curb… But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t throw ALL THAT stuff into the garbage can knowing the impact. So we bought some sorters for the garage and I stuck with it until last summer when they introduced the new carts.

Since I made that change, I’ve started noticing a lot of other things I do that aren’t really the best choices for the environment…or even for my family. I look for ways to improve what I do and make small changes to become … well … better than I was at protecting the environment.
With Earth Day approaching, I really wanted to organize some kind of thing in my neighborhood to get my neighbors more interested in recycling. However, with the Walk, Easter, and several birthdays coming up, I’m pretty sure I would go crazy trying to plan something else. So I got the idea to start here. Every Tuesday for X amount of weeks (I’m cRaZy like that), I’ll post a Green Challenge. Some tips for living a greener life, resourceful websites and, of course, a challenge.

This week’s is to confess your environmental crimes. “Crimes” too harsh? How about “bad habits”?

My top three environmental crimes:

1. I use A LOT of water. I try not to let it run, but I often do. I never understood why it was so freakin’ bad to let water run. It COMES from the river…it goes BACK to the river, right? It’s not like it disappears into space because it goes down the drain!! But, with age comes wisdom. And that “Oh, DUH!” thing you get once in a while. Yes, people, it takes ENERGY to PRODUCE the water, huh?? And guess what? Money doesn’t grow on trees, either!! Who knew?

2. I use chemical cleaners. Like, Lysol Kitchen Cleaner. Again…never thought about the impact they might have on the environment. I do (because I’m cheap) dilute it with water a couple times and then recycle the bottle, so this only makes it half a crime, right? I plan on researching more earth-friendly cleaners soon.

3. I’m addicted to bottled water. Again, I recycle every bottle. However, it would be MUCH friendlier to the Earth if I were to … say … umm … refill the bottle. My office did recently get a filtered water system, so I’m sure since it’s filtered that even though it still smells like swamp water, it’s cool to drink … right? … This one may take a while.

Alright, it’s on YOU…Confess!


Undercover Angel said...

My environmental crimes are:

1. Like you I use a lot of water
2. Also like you, I use chemical cleaners
3. I use aresol sprays
4. I burn all of my garbage

I'm sure there are many more, but that's all I can think of right now...

Kristina said...

Here's mine:

1. I only really recyle paper and plastic bottles :(

2. Also a bottled water junkie...at least I'm drinking water though! One step at a time!

3. I use a few chemical cleaners...but I really do try and buy the more natural stuff! I just need to try harder.

4. Water waster here, too!

I'm sure I have a TON more...I'm trying though, I really am!

exskindiver said...

i do not recycle paper.
i do recycle plastic, glass and cans but being from a third world country--i often find myself worrying that i am in fact wasting water when i WASH THE GARBAGE!!!!!!
this green challenge is a good idea.
not that you need more blogs to check out (but i will be back with a link to my SIL's post about this issue, that actually got me to START recycling)
if i had to admit my most terrible environmental crime...it would be that i JUST STARTED recycling.
i'll be back with that link.

Sugar Kane said...

I'm working on this, but sadly my list is turning into a novel....

exskindiver said...

the link to my SIL's post:

check it out. it moved me to start recycling.


Brillig said...

I get five newspapers every Sunday (for the coupons--yes, I'm one of THOSE) and so I have all this newspaper sitting around. But where I live it costs an arm and a leg to recycle, and since the point of the five papers is to save money, I don't do anything with them. I just stick them in the garbage!!!

You've inspired me, though. I signed up for the Global Warming March through your link.

Wanderer said...

Thanks for checking out my blog! Since some areas are hard to fix right away, here are some easy fixes I have found over the last few years:

1. Method cleaner--at TARGET and they smell great! The cleaners (all of them) use earth-friendly solvents and again, they make my house smell great (even with an in-house smoker).

2. Reusablebags.com--a little pricey at first, but you will use them for many years (I am on my 2nd year with these bags) and they are easy to store in your purse or bag. This will cut down on grocery bag uses: http://www.reusablebags.com/store/acme-bags-workhorse-style-1500-p-1.html . I found cheaper ones at my local store, but I live in California which are uber-conscious for this. I want to purchase the water bottles on their site too since they are stylish and EASILY recyclable when needed.

I will send you more information if you want?! I don't want to be earth-friendly Nazi...which are also plenty in California to my distaste.