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Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Green SAHM
Ways I’m trying to go green

1. My family only owns one car, which is fairly fuel efficient. This has forced me to plan my errands better. Helps me buy less too, since I can’t go out and spontaneously shop.

2. I walk my daughter to preschool. It’s only a few blocks, but it amazes other parents that I walk it. I know from watching my neighbors drive their kids to school that the time difference is about a minute. We left at the same time once, so I got a really good feel for that.

3. I’m slowly converting my husband over to organic gardening. He’s used to buying fertilizers and such, but I’ve got him more interested in composting now.

4. I’m also working on adding vegetarian fare into the regular rotation. It will be a challenge, as my husband is a devout carnivore. But with great patience I weaned him off most deep fried foods, to the point that he can barely stand them now, and I think I can get the amount of meat we consume down too if I go about it the same way.

5. I love living in Southern California. Except for the occasional rainy days I can just open the blinds to get enough warmth in to heat the house in winter, as well as sufficient light for most activities.

6. In summer I make sure to wear light clothes, keep the blinds shut and use fans rather than the air conditioner. It only takes a few weeks to adapt to where warmer temperatures aren’t bothersome.

7. I work at home. This wasn’t initially intended as a green measure, but it means we can get away with one car and I don’t have to commute.

8. I’m trying to learn to make more things such as bread for my family. Healthier and cheaper and better tasting.

9. One of my challenges in going green is my in-laws. Wonderful people most ways, but they don’t understand the need to think more about the environment. Unless I feel like hearing about eco-Nazis I know better than to bring the topic up. But it doesn’t stop me from doing things my way in my home.

10. My mother and I have a lot of fun talking about environmental topics. We share a lot of interests in that area.

11. I only use warm or hot water in the laundry if I absolutely must. Most clothes seem to come out smelling just fine with cold water.

12. One of the things that can drive me nuts is trying to figure out which solution causes the least damage overall. I can look at light bulbs, for example, and know that incandescent ones are responsible for more of my carbon usage in my home than compact fluorescent ones. But which is less polluting in manufacture and disposal?

13. I love buying fresh produce for my family but still get frozen too, even though I know it takes more energy to store. I’m not sure how that balances with how it enables me to go to the store less often. Plus I would have the freezer anyhow.

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7 Responses to Thursday Thirteen

  1. Wow-I admire your level of commitment to going green! I’m not sure I could give up my carnivorous tendencies or the second car. You did get me thinking that I should come up with plans to change things I can easily give up though. I’m sure if everyone did a little bit, it would make a big difference! I will let you know what I come up with!

    Happy TT- Jessica

  2. awesome – i sympathise with you on which things are less harmful – sometimes i am paralysed trying to work it out – i think i am now thinking that there is a trade off but rather than choosing none of the options to choose one is better than choosing none πŸ™‚

  3. Interesting list.

    So many people think that being more environmentally responsible means living in 1800s-western North America conditions. They don’t realize that a few people living extremely low-impact lifestyles won’t turn things around. Everyone has to reduce the amount they use irresponsibly by a little bit – pick up after themselves a little bit – buy locally a little bit – and before they realize it, they’ve changed their lifestyle. Not drastically, but a little bit. (And if only everyone would do a little bit…)

  4. It’s so true that many people don’t understand that doing just a little bit would help. I suspect that’s a big part of the problem my inlaws, especially my father-in-law, have with environmentalists. They only see the extremes, not the midrange or even the minimal things that could be done.

  5. Hi there, I just found your blog. Good on you! I was just discussing similar things with a coworker tonight. There are MASSIVE things which could be done, HUGE changes that could be made. But the resistance to these can be offset by “baby steps”. Drive less. Buy less. Purchase things that are made to last. If you have something that works but is no longer to your liking, don’t throw it out automatically, give it to someone else, trade it, sell it…

    Stop drinking from plastic water bottles. This only furthers the notion of water as a commodity, already a staggeringly large industry – water is a human right to live with, not a “product” – choose reusable bottles (a few companies even make non reactive stainless steel or metal ones now), just think every time you use a plastic water bottle how much petroleum, how much energy, how many plasticizer was used, how many chemical catalysts were involved.

    If you get groceries in plastic bags, reuse them as many times as possible. Preferably, purchase inexpensive reusable grocery bags instead.

    Once in a while, try working by candlelight. This can actually be fun!

    Don’t use so many fragranced products! It is INSANE how many things are scented. People don’t seem to understand everything underneath all these pungent scents – a)They can be made up of hundreds of chemicals, many of which are untested for bioaccumulation and toxicity, and others which are certifiably toxic – they can deaden olfactory nerves, causing people to use more because “they hardly smell”. More and more people are becoming allergic/sensitive to them. People’s notion of “fresh” is distorted. “Fresh” is not an overwhelming scent of a synthetic “spring meadow”. You want your clothes “fresh”? Hang them up in the air.

    And think of, again, how much petroleum is used in the manufacture of all of these fragrances? An absolutely unnecessary waste of resources. Also – every time these are used – where are they going? Into your bodies, into your lungs, skin, to your brain. In the air, in the water.

    Do you know what is in “air freshener”? (An absolute oxymoron). Do you know what’s in most cosmetics? Products to “beautify” you? Nothing like putting poison on you to look pretty in the short term.

    Stop using dryer sheets/fabric softener. Most people would bust a gasket if they knew what’s in these super strongly scented “necessities”. They are NOT necessary! People have been scammed. They are scented so strongly to mask the scent of everything else in them. Seriously, put a bit of vinegar in your rinse cycle. Then put a bunch of balls of aluminum foil in your dryer to reduce static. Better yet – just wear cotton and natural fibers.

    Do not use products from Kimberly-Clark (such as Kleenex brand tissues). This company cuts down mature boreal forest trees, destroying one of the few tracts of ancient trees left, which is also a huge carbon sink (we need this – global warming anyone?) – all so people can blow their noses and wipe their asses.

    Think about what you’re cleaning your houses with. Studies have shown that stay at home “housewives” have considerably higher rates of cancer due to the constant use of close contact cleaning chemicals. You have to wonder why people would choose to use products which state on the back: “Caution. Use only in well ventilated area. Do not inhale fumes. Avoid contact with skin. If swallowed, contact Poison Control immediately”.

    Read up on homemade cleaners. You can do a heck of a lot with baking soda and vinegar. Invest in a steam cleaner for tough mildew. Health food stores offer a number of safer/safe cleaning products. Don’t be scared of using elbow grease.

    If you’ve got time, don’t drive somewhere that you can walk to in 20 or 30 minutes. I’m SHOCKED when people are shocked that I walk about 40 minutes a day in total to work. Mind you, I don’t drive so I’m used to it. But seriously. You want a cheap way to help keep in shape? Don’t drive so much! Carry your groceries home. Get a good backpack! I will carry 20 or more pounds of groceries home if I have to, walking for 20 to 30 minutes if the store is in reasonable walking distance. When I see someone drive a Hummer to buy a BAG OF CHIPS (I’ve seen it happen), I don’t even know what to think, or what they’re thinking themselves.

    Use things which can be reused. Get a cheap fountain pen and refill it with ink. People tend to keep such pens in circulation, some from 60 or more years are still running and in use today. Just think of how many dead “bic-sticks” are in landfills.

    Choose organic, local if possible, whenever you can. If there are organic farmers with a market in the warm months near you, get to know them! They are some of the friendliest people I’ve met, with a genuine interest in and caring for the food and the earth. Again, think of how many chemicals go into the manufacture of pesticides. And then ask yourself: Do I really want to support an industry which sprays our food (aimlessly I might add, since at least 90 percent misses it’s mark and goes back into the ecosystem) with neurotoxins and carcinogens?

    Reduce your shower time/turn off the water while you shampoo/condition/whatever. There are more people on earth than there is water for them at the rate at which some activities use it. We in the west are highly fortunate in some regards. Let’s not forget the increasing demand for water and let’s not abuse it ourselves.

    The next time you pick up a cosmetics product, read (if you’re in Canada at least, where the ingredients have to be listed), the ingredient list. Take some notes. Then go home and google the ingredients followed by the word “toxicity”. You may never wish to use many things again. Remember too, that the word “fragrance” can denote hundreds to thousands of chemicals, the listing of which is protected by an obscene “trade secret” law, though in the future, awareness and laws should change.

    Don’t buy prepackaged meals. Scrutinize everything in grocery stores. Learn or increase your knowledge of how to cook from scratch. Eventually, you will discover that probably 70-90 percent of what’s in mainstream grocery stores is currently crap. Partly to entirely “non-food”. Remember: After a certain point, the farther away from it’s original state that food is, the less our body can utilize it/the more it can harm us.

    When possible, buy in bulk, and try, when you can, to avoid products with excessive packaging. Companies should be ashamed for putting products into packages which could five of the same item of which there is only one of.

    Consider what furniture is made of. A lot of cheap furniture (and new carpeting) outgasses noxious fumes, including formaldehyde. Whenever possible, go used, go simple, go natural. (I know that this is not practical or financially feasible all the time for everyone).

    Use scrap paper for notes.

    Don’t litter! What lunacy/mindlessness is it that grasps people to throw crap out of their car windows? What, that empty coffee cup is gonna hinder the aerodynamics of your vehicle? Got garbage with you? Who cares! Keep it in your pockets until you get to a can at least. For personal observation, take note of what sorts of garbage you see most often. Junk food, fast food wrappers, coffee cups, coke cans, cheap beer/cheap liquor bottles, cigarette butts/packaging, etc. Then, understand that continued consumption of such things contributes to furthering their availability to a segment of society who seems to realize the least what their impact on the environment is.

    Talk to companies. Talk to the government. Don’t let yourselves and the world be trampled by a behemoth of greed which holds nothing sacred but unsavory gain.

    Talk to other people! Use what and where and when you can as a forum to discuss important issues. Can you speak well? Can you be engaging? Do you know anything? Don’t be afraid of discussion.

    Talk to yourself. See above.

    Weather permitting, dry your clothes outside.

    Don’t put pesticides on your lawn! Seriously people. It’s one of the silliest cases of vanity over common sense. There are many studies linking these substances to diseases such as cancer. A front lawn isn’t even really natural. Don’t let yourself fall prey to the inane quest of a pure green front lawn as a status symbol of suburban success. Let it grow. Cut it if you must. Don’t waste water on it. If it dries, it dries. There are more important things to use water on it. Learn how to weed by hand. Don’t be all “oh my god! Dandelions!” and freak out. Pull them out if they bother you. But think about it. They’re a harmless yellow flower. (My sympathies to anyone with allergies.) Do many people even realize that they can be used in salads and medicinally?

    Take time to find natural areas. Go out. Enjoy. The more time you spend in nature with the right attitude, the more you will respect and appreciate it. If possible, walk or bike there. Have kids? Get them exposed and interactive in a positive way. Some urban children have never seen a farm (please, take them to an organic one – modern day industrial mass scale monocrop techniques are as far away from what farming is about as you can get), seen animals that milk and meat come from, the ground vegetables are grown in, the majesty of a glorious forest…

    Plant your own small organic garden in the backyard if you have the space. It’ll provide you with some food, and perhaps instill a greater appreciation of the process that goes into real food.

    Beware of industry hype. Scrutinize what’s being said to you. Research. Be critical. Remember – the big players in the game are the ones who stand to lose (huge profits) if they don’t change their ways. Some are truly starting to make little steps in the right direction. Others are scared of small sacrifices now. There is some truth, but lies abound. Question and prod until REAL progress occurs. Support yourself, and independent/innovative companies.

    DON’T BE AFRAID of rocking the boat a bit! Someone calls you a treehugger? Who gives a damn! Worse things you could do than hug a tree. The next time you’re in the woods, stop, take a look at the trees, and be thankful for them and how much they do for the planet. Plant some more if you’re able.

    Lead by example. Continue to do things the right way, and eventually others will see, realize, and follow. Don’t be afraid of silly labels. You know what is right – personally, I think others do, too. Some of them are simply afraid of acknowledgment/change. We are in important times. Don’t underestimate the good which you’re capable of.

    Consider your body as part of the environment. Remember that what we put in ourselves, comes from outside of ourselves.
    ——————————-

    This is just a list off of the top. Not much forethought was involved in typing this. You think this sounds extreme? Please, don’t. Much more could be done. Remember, these things involve a combination of contribution and reduction – yes that’s right, as obvious as it sounds, you can make a positive environmental difference by choosing to do certain things LESS. We can make many positive, effective choices today. Spread the word. Be passive by using less of the wrong things, not by letting the wrong things grow. Take care.