In thinking back to all that may have started me on being more “green” conscious at home I would have to say it all started when a friend brought over a recycling bin that he got from trash picking. It is kind of ironic that a receptacle that is used to prevent items going into the trash was in fact in the trash. Before you jump to any conclusions let me say that simply getting a recycling bin was not all it took for me to start recycling. After my friend gave me the recycling bin the bin sat on my porch for over two months unused. One day during that two month period, my friend came over and asked if I had started using the bin and I told him I hadn’t. He asked, why not? I told him, I don’t know what I can recycle. He then proceeded to tell me examples of items that are recyclable. Now with some knowledge of what I could recycle I still did not begin recycling. It is hard to explain why I was hesitant to do something that is truly beneficial for the planet. Perhaps, I thought it would be too much of a hassle having to use two different receptacles for my trash, or maybe I event felt a little foolish about recycling. In retrospect I admit those two thoughts as well as others prevented me from recycling. On a second occasion when my friend was visiting he asked if I had started recycling and I still told him I had not. Once again he asked, why not? This time I told him I wasn’t sure if I had curb side recycling and the bin I had was not even issued for Waukegan. His response was, put out the bin and see if it gets taken. His suggestion was a simple one, yet one that changed the way I perceive trash from that day forth. Shortly afterwards I took my friends suggestion and placed the bin on the curb, and to my surprise a recycling truck came by and took everything in the bin. I had started recycling at home, and it turned out to be simpler than I had expected. As I mentioned in my previous blog it is small steps that have added up to make me more “green” conscious, and this was the first small step I took at home.
Just a year ago, I never took stock in the idea of “Going Green.” There was nothing in my lifestyle that prompted me to consider “Going Green.” To me the words green, sustainable, and even recycle meant nothing. I was comfortable throwing all my waste in a trash can. I told myself: “I don’t have a recycling bin, so I can’t recycle.” Sometimes I would use a recycling bin at a store I was at, with emphasis on sometimes. Now, the idea of “Going Green” is taking a strong hold of my conscience, and when I look around I think about how much waste can be recycled. When I am at a store I seek out a recycling bin. If the store doesn’t have any recycling bins I wonder: “Why doesn’t this store recycle?” I find myself grimacing when I toss something in a trash can which is a far cry from my mentality a year ago. For me “Going Green” was, is, and will continue to be a process. Like many things in life change starts with a simple step. Whenever, I take on something new I tell myself: “You always got to start somewhere.” Now, in keeping with being “green” I recycle as much as possible and even compost. I wish to use this blog to show the small steps that have added up to make me more “green” conscious.
Last year, when I was thinking about buying a new car, I looked at all my options. When it came down to decision day, I was torn between purchasing a hybrid or a non-hybrid model. The hybrids didn’t have the best looking designs nor did they offer all the options I was looking for but I knew from a green perspective it would be a wise choice. After a short test drive and my mind pretty much made up already, I purchased the Toyota Prius. With its hybrid engine technology, the Prius is one of the most popular environmentally friendly cars. It boasts high fuel economy (I average 48 mpg) and low carbon emissions. The Prius incorporates the world’s first remote air conditioning system that can function on battery power alone. Plus, it incorporates ”regenerative braking” which means that it recoups the energy used during braking, saves it to a storage battery, then uses it later to power the motor whenever the vehicle is using its electric power source. And the best news of all… the EPA gives the carbon footprint of the Prius as 3.7 tons per year, with the range for all vehicles being 3.5 to 16.2. So the next time you’re thinking about purchasing a vehicle, consider a hybrid. It makes me feel good about my contribution to the environment and I know it will make you feel that way too.
As many families do, my family recently migrated south for a week in the sun. This time we headed to the pristine beaches of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Just imagine beautiful white sand, gorgeous sunsets, and clear blue water. There are miles and miles of condominium buildings lining the coast. We stayed at an older condominium building (you get what you pay for!) and were dismayed to find out that there was no on-site recycling. When my husband stopped by the building’s management office he was told the following: “While the City of Myrtle Beach does not provide collection services, condominium residents are welcome to use any of the City’s Convenience Centers for their recycling needs”. Unfortunately, the convenience centers were not that convenient and we ended up throwing recyclables in the trash. It made me wonder though, if this was a common practice for multi-family residences back home in Illinois.
When I returned from vacation, I checked out the SWALCO website. According to its website, “People who live in apartments, condominiums or town-homes should contact their property management or association to establish recycling services.” Unfortunately, I think that this is a missed opportunity. Recycling should be easy. Asking residents or vacationers to drive a recycling facility is not always practical.
Anyways, the trip did make me think of how to be environmentally conscious on a vacation. Here are the tips that I came up with:
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you. This will cut down on convenience purchases and trash.
- Limit meals that involve carry out containers. We grocery shopped once we got to our location and not only saved money but reduced the amount of garbage added to the landfill.
- We had the car’s oil changed before we left, hopefully improving the car’s performance on the road. I was actually surprised at how little gas we used.
- Anytime you see a recycling center use it. Rest stops seemed to frequently have a place to dispose of recyclables.
- Run the air conditioning as needed both in the condo and in the car. We took advantage of the ocean breeze and kept the windows open.
- Use towels wisely. We changed out the towels only once.
With a little planning, it is possible to care for the environment even while you are on vacation.
Want to learn more about cleaning your home with green products? Drop by the library to check out these books that tell you how to make cleaning supplies and choices that are good for your family’s health and the planet.
Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home – by Renee Loux
Green Cleaning for Dummies- by Mary Findley and Linda Formichelli
Naturally Clean: The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe and Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning - by Jeffrey Hollender and Geoff Davis
Organic Housekeeping – by Ellen Sandbeck
Like most people, I have reusable bags for grocery shopping. But! I usually forget them at home when I go to the food store. I also wasn’t bringing my bags along when I went to the mall or the thrift store or anywhere else. I had oodles of plastic bags under my kitchen sink, and I never seemed to reuse them at the same pace I was acquiring them. Then someone gave me a compact reusable bag that squishes into a tiny carrying pouch. I use it all the time! The brand I was given is ChicoBag, but there are others and they all work just fine.
I’ve gotten some funny looks when I pull out a bag that fits in the palm of my hand and ask, “Can I use my own bag, please?” They always laugh when I unfold it into a bag that holds a surprising amount. Now that I keep a reusable bag with me all the time, my stash of plastic bags is finally dwindling.
While it’s easy to get information from the internet, I think books are the most reliable source for learning about a given topic. Follow this link to see some of the library’s books about sustainable living. My favorites are The Eco Chick Guide to Life and Restore. Recycle. Repurpose. What green books have you read lately? If the library doesn’t own it, you can suggest that we purchase it here.
This post is for everyone who thinks that it’s too expensive to live green.
When I first started to “think green”, I did spend more money than I needed to on green cleaners, laundry detergent, recycled paper towels, and the like. It took me a few years before I realized that spending $4.99 for glass cleaner wasn’t doing the environment any favors. I was still buying a plastic bottle and though they were gentler, that bottle was still full of chemicals. Here are a few everyday changes I’ve made that are both environment- and budget-friendly:
1. I stopped buying paper towels. Try it! You won’t miss them as much as you think, and it saves a ton of money.
2. Before cleaning with chemicals, I always start with elbow grease and a damp microfiber cloth.
3. I clean glass with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.
4. I scrub tough messes with baking soda instead of commercial cleaner.
5. I always try a homemade cleaning product before I buy a specialty one. For example, I have three metals in my home to maintain: copper, stainless steel, and sterling silver. Instead of buying a cleaner for each one, I use different combinations of baking soda, vinegar, and lemons. It’s nontoxic and so much cheaper than storebought.
How do you save money AND live green?
Today’s post comes from Betsy, a staff member at the library. Here’s the story of how she learned to be green:
My dad was born in 1924, just before the start of the Depression, in Brooklyn, NY and was one of ten children. Money was always tight and all of his siblings worked as soon as they could to help care for the family. Needless to say, there was little to no waste. Everything was used until it wore out. When my dad became a parent of twelve, he continued to be very mindful of using resources wisely. Heat was used in our home from October 1st – April 1st each year, and the thermostat set at a chilly 65 degrees in a poorly insulated house. Air conditioning was used sparingly with shades drawn during the hot Midwestern summers. Lights were always turned off when leaving the room. I have a vivid recollection of Dad in his old blue sweater walking through the house turning off lights and checking the thermostat for violations. Of course, we all hated it and were embarrassed to have our friends witness his frugal ways.
Fast forward 30 years. My dad has been gone nine years, but his ways live on through me. I am now the keeper of the check book and the thermostat and follow his wise ways, much to my own children’s irritation. As a family,
- We give as much away as possible.
- We buy used as a rule.
- We return any dry cleaning hangars to the dry cleaners for reuse.
- We use reusable bags for groceries, but return plastic bags for recycling.
- We compost kitchen and yard waste.
- A good portion of our lawn is low maintenance prairie grass.
- We installed a rain barrel for watering flowers in our yard.
- We fill the recycle bins for curbside pick-up.
- We all use reusable lunch boxes and cloth napkins.
- We get rid of home electronics and household chemicals at SWALCO collection events.
- We follow the October through April heating rule, and use air condition sparingly.
- We consolidate errands in order to reduce usage of the car.
I bet my dad approves of our ways.
Have you checked out a ComEd Kill-A-Watt power meter from the library yet? Take this device home to see how much electricity your appliances or electronics are using. I was surprised to learn that lots of things still draw electricity even when they’re turned off. You can place a Kill-A-Watt on hold through the online catalog. Note that a $10 deposit is required when checking out a Kill-A-Watt. Your deposit will be returned when you return the monitor and all its accompanying material to the desk.