27 - 2009

What green actions do I still do?

About a year ago, I added a feature to my blog (over in the right-hand column) listing what we do to live greener. With a new year underway, I thought it was a great time to revisit this list and see what we’re still doing.

If you’re new here, the links will take you back to some of the relevant posts on each of these topics.

1.    Hang laundry to dry – SORTA – I hung laundry all spring, summer and fall, but this winter, I have fallen back on the dryer. I’ve been too busy to do a load each day, which is the best way to have enough space to hang our laundry. And Mr. Cheap loves that his shirts come out of the dryer unwrinkled, so he doesn’t have to iron them. I hung laundry out the other day in our unseasonably warm weather, and I’ll do it again this spring. Downside: Our electricity bill has increased.

2.    Use wind-powered electricity – YES – We still pay to purchase all wind power from Xcel.

3.    Do not accept plastic bags – YES – Very seldom does a plastic bag enter our house — usually only when Mr. Cheap goes somewhere without bags or means to carry separate items home.

4.    Compost food waste – YES

5.    Choose recycled purchases when possible – YES

6.    Recycle paper, cardboard, metal, plastic – YES – And in fact, we are recycling more types of plastic (including tubs and plastic caps) and materials like Styrofoam through special occasional trips to Ecocycle.

7.    Turn off lights we’re not using – SORTA – I always do this; my family is less consistent.

8.    Turn off water while rinsing/brushing – YES – Little Cheap even does this in public restrooms while sudsing her hands.

9.    Use high-efficiency washing machine – YES

10.    Dishwasher – full loads, water saver, turn off dry cycle – YES

11.    Turn refrigerator temp up to 43F – YES

12.    Buy many items used – YES

13.    Recycle, Freecycle, consign, donate instead of trashing items – YES

14.    Use cloth handkerchiefs – YES – We have tissues for others’ use at our home, and we are buying recycled tissues.

15.    Use cloth napkins – YES

16.    Print on both sides of paper and re-use paper before recycling – YES, and we try to reduce printing as much as possible.

17.    Unplug appliances – SORTA – We added a timer to our coffee maker to turn it off when not in use, and we unplug what we can. The computer goes to deep sleep when not in use, and we turn off the TV, Wii and DVD player at a power strip when not in use.

18.    Bring own water bottle & coffee cups – YES – I have invested in more coffee cups (on clearance! — including a BPA-free one for me) to help make this easier.

19.    Grow our own vegetables – YES – and we purchased most vegetables this year from a CSA.

20.    Drive gently to get better mileage – YES – although I don’t know if it really helps!

21.    Reduce hair dryer use – YES

22.    Use low-flow toilets – YES

23.    Flush less – YES

24.    Choose EnergyStar appliances – YES

25.    Add low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators – YES

26.    Get books/movies at library instead of buying/renting – YES – We are careful about what we buy, especially movies, which we realize we don’t watch repeatedly.

27.    Use evaporative cooler, not A/C – YES

28.    Use programmable thermostat to turn heat down at night (55F)/when gone – YES

29.    Use bio-friendly soap – YES

30.    Clean with baking soda and vinegar – YES

31.    Buy organic and/or local foods – YES – We have cut down on coupon usage primarily because we’re more focused on organic and local.

32.    Eliminated subscriptions (1 newspaper, 12 catalogs, 2 magazines, 4 companies) – YES

33.    Choose “cleaner” energy-using appliances – YES – This means using the electric kettle (if you read that linked post, check out the update here, too) over the gas stove burner because our wind-power electricity is easier on the environment than our natural gas stove.

34.    Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs – YES

35.    Make own foods (less packaging) – YES

36.    Buy bulk products & refill to reduce packaging – YES

37.    Wash and re-use plastic bags we do use – YES

38.    Use cloth toilet “paper” – NO – I’ve given this up — it hardly seemed worth the hassle of washing all those little cloths and dealing with odor. We used about 35 rolls of toilet paper in 2008, and we purchase recycled one-ply paper. By these estimates that comprised about 0.13 trees.

39.    Use reusable menstrual products – YES

40.    Use public transportation when possible – NO – haven’t been doing this much. It will cost my husband more and be more inconvenient to take the bus to work, especially when he lugs his “teacher bags” along, so we haven’t done much with this one. We try to walk where we can.

41.    Combine errands – YES

42.    Electric blankets instead of space heaters – YES

43.    Reuse gift wrap – YES – and made my own reusable bags this year.

Phew! I have about a 90 percent consistency rate.

Do you have a green action you’re really proud of? Something hard to do? Something you want to try? Something you wonder about?

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