Monday, January 7, 2008

Being Green

Not only am I passionate about food, but also about being better to the environment, being "green" (as the saying goes).

For the past several years, my husband and I have worked on changing our habits to use more environmentally-friendly items as well continuing our journey in sourcing our food locally.

For the past 5 years we have changed our eating habits dramatically. We eat more nutrient-dense foods and are now almost totally organic. It was a slow transition in some respects and it is always an ongoing journey.

Several years ago we switched all our cleaners to Eco-friendly types/brands. We have always used vinegar mixed with water to wash our floors, we also use baking soda as a mild abrasive for cleaning. We switched to Eco-friendly, unscented laundry detergent. We have tried many kinds and currently are happy using Melaluca brand. We always washed our clothes in cold water (mainly to save money!!) which is also Eco-friendly. We have switched to using Compact Fluorescent bulbs too. We have always recycled to the extent our garbage service would accept it, but in the past year we have really stepped up our role in the area of Reduce, reuse and recylcle.

Our local elementary school has a dumpster that accepts all types of paper for recycling. We now have boxes and garbage cans we use specifically to save paper. We also recycle save things that shouldn't be thrown in the regular trash and either recycle them by donating them to charities or listing them on freecycle. We also save broken electronics, etc. that are considered hazerdous to throw away and either take them to our towns special Hazerdous waste day (they will recycle or properly dispose of the items) or we use other programs that will recycle them.

The above link takes you to the new Costco program where you can recycle your old computer/electronic equipment. This is a great program and if your item has a value you will receive a Costco cash card in that amount. They send you postage paid sticker to send it in, so there is no cost. The program includes PCs, LCD Monitors, Digital Cameras, Camcorders, Game Systems & MP3 Players.

Another thing that my family does, and has done for years, is to use our own grocery bags when shopping. I have A LOT of tote bags I keep in my car. When I go shopping I grab a bunch and use them. If they get dirty, I just throw them in the wash (which really isn't too often that they need to be washed). I also use them when I go to the farmer's market.

A couple of years ago I discovered Laptop Lunch Boxes . I love this company and now own 6 of their lunchboxes. Once I started using their laptop lunchbox to pack my daughter's lunch, she has not once asked for hot lunch (which I won't allow anymore anyway, as it is the worst type of food!!). My son is now in school all day and he also loves to take his lunchbox. I let them help decide what to pack in each container and it makes it fun for them to see their lunch all nicely packed. It also saves on a lot of plastic baggies and pre-packaged stuff. The lunch box system is all washable and they love filling their drink bottle with water each morning!! We also use them for car trips so we can take healthy food and eat it on the go. Works great!!

We have also tried to get out of the habit of just buying so many things new. We try to re-purpose things or fix them. Our big metal (with a foot pedal) garbage can broke recently. The rod that attached the foot pedal to the lid (to avoid touching the lid) broke. We contacted the company about a replacement part, but it was out of warranty and they don't provide or sell replacement parts. They said they would give us a discount on a new one, but then we couldn't see throwing away a perfectly useable large metal and plastic garbage can. So we took out the metal rod and had a friend weld it for us where it broke. Hubby managed to re-install the rod (adding a bracket, since it was no longer bent to the exact same angle) and voila, it works like new!! It may not be a permanent solution, but hopefully will keep us having to throw it out for a least a while longer. Maybe when it does give up the ghost, someone else will be able to use it as is!!

As, I think of more ideas, I will post them!!