June 26, 2008

Going Green, Part 3: Some Examples for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I have already posted about how simple and streamlined I am (I refuse to start a blog post with the words "ana1-retentive"), so I thought I'd share what I've done so far to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

When I think about this, one specific time stands out. Last fall when I was going through exactly 4,100 square ft. worth of possessions to quickly and competently choose the best things to bring with us when we left the house, I had to move and edit the crap FAST. I was thinking reduce, reuse, recycle without ever calling it that. I was thinking of how to reuse a piece of furniture in several ways, really thinking over exactly which items I needed and which were just extra. I didn't have room or time for extra - and I love that I did that. (Go me!) You wouldn't believe how short my list of housewares was. Everything for the 3 kids and I (minus our clothes and a few favorite toys) had to fit into a 10x15 storage facility. Aside from photos and a few pieces of furniture, this is what I packed:

6 dinner plates
6 dessert (or child-size) plates
6 bowls
4 Rubbermaid Premier storage containers for cold storage or lunchboxes
2 coffee cups (these)
2 pie plates (they were my grandmother's)
1 Crock Pot
6 bath towels
6 hand towels
6 washcloths
2 lamps

I have added a few things to that list for our new home and still have to pick up silverware, drinking glasses (I'd like to use recycled glass), a toaster and a microwave, but I think I've made smart decisions so far. I still have some necessities to pick up and I get to start fresh and do it the right way. That is exciting.

I'd also like to say that thinking back on all of this - as proud as I am of my brain's editing process - I am absolutely ashamed at what was. Holy cow did we have a lot. I left a LOT behind. A superlot. Like, I didn't even know how much crap we had. Two silver tiered candy stands, dozens of Corningware crocks, a small Pyrex collection, mixing bowls, platters, more platters, 20 towels, several sheet sets, 4 kinds of napkin rings, 5 or 6 tablecloths - just basically think of a bunch of crap. Even though the house was neatly organized and non-cluttered, and even though we had the room to store all of this stuff, we really didn't need it. We were wasteful and we spoiled ourselves. And we hurt the earth doing it.

I really want to live simply going forward. As green as I can be. I can't promise I'll be able to always afford organic food, but I'm going to do my best in the areas I can identify and afford to change.

Here are some things I have already done:

Reused 2 sets of dressers, one from a local antique store and another from the CURB

Repurposed a plastic drawer as a toy box for miss Moo

Using California Baby products, which are free of anything nasty and are totally organic

Using Burt's Bees products (similar to California Baby, but not quite as great)
Similac Organic formula

Gerber organic and Earth's Best baby foods

Seventh Generation cleaning and household products (earth friendly and sustainable)

We have stopped using paper plates and are rewashing regular plates

Remembering to turn off the lights and TV - sounds small but if you have kids, this is BIG

Eventually I want to:

- Find a drycleaner who doesn't use "perc"

- Buy a PUR water filter for the faucet and eliminate the bottled water we use

- Put aerators on all of the sink taps (this adds air to the water and lessens water waste by 50%)

- Use Laura's Lean beef - Hormone Free

- Any new toy purchases must be wood, PVC-free, or recycled

- Organic cotton, baby clothes

- Chlorine free (Seventh Generation) diapers

- Energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs


Yes, I bet you wonder why you haven't heard me going on and on (do I do that?) about recycling paper, plastic, and glass. That's because *I haven't*. Now that I'm all ready to do it, Nana doesn't want "the trouble of having to sort." I even offered to do most of the sorting (which means the kids would be told to do it) and she still said no. I don't get it, but I have to respect it. Anyhow, I can't wait to get to our new house so that we can begin a full-on recycling program. Sure, we have recycled and repurposed plenty of things throughout our house - and it is true that every time you reuse something instead of throwing it away you are doing your part for recycling... just not quite the same way as turning one milk jug into another milk jug. I hereby admit that I am a slacker in this area and I promise to work on it!

Up next: How easy it is to go green!

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