Thursday, November 4, 2010

Going (more) Green Thursday!

As some of you may have noticed, I added a “badge” to my site last week (see, that’s it there on the right)… “I’m taking baby steps!” it says – Sustainable Baby steps towards living a more ‘green’ lifestyle. Tara over at the The Organic Sister has recently launched a really interesting website site that introduces green at an beginner's level and has different ‘steps’ one can take (with associated badges) to implementing, living and understanding the benefit of going green.

I know, I know – many will roll their eyes at “green” and “global warming” and all that, but for me, it is really important. I’ve always likened myself to somewhat of a steward for Mother Earth living as consciously as I can and taking steps to reduce my impact on the planet on which I live. Throughout the course of my 36 years, I’ve had different levels of success and there are some things I have adopted as “routine” for my life.

Some of the “green” things we do:
Chemical & pesticide free yard care and gardening
Used cloth diapers, wipes and nursing pads when our son was an infant/baby/early toddler (he's been out of diapers for months now)
Don’t use any chemical household cleaners
“Freecycle” objects that have more life (furniture, clothing, toys, household goods)
Public transit (to work)

And I know there are more things we do but also more things we could be doing and that’s where I’d like to go. I want to learn more and I want to do more. I want to understand the marketing that goes in to products and understand the real impact – both financially and environmentally.

The one concept that I was introduced to when I first visited Sustainable Baby steps was the idea of greenwashing I have to admit, I’d never heard of it before and I was concerned that it was perhaps a “made up” term – especially when I saw the first item on the list…

Paper Towel.

There are a few things I really like in life and paper towel is one of them. Now, I’m not all “Yes! Paper towel!” but I love it in the kitchen for clean-up and wiping my hands when handling (raw) meat. I went home that night and suggested the possibility of the made up term to my husband – and my reason – paper towel.
He looked at me with just a hint of surprise in his eye.

“Paper towels are like (enter brand name floor dusting device). A broom or vacuum does a great job but people buy them anyway.”

And I took a moment and realized he was right. But what would I use? Perhaps the stack of 20 tea towels I have that get used one or two per week? I argued the laundry factor (and now I’ll admit, I do not do the laundry in our house – my husband does) but he said the cost would be less – especially when you pay $2 (or more) a roll.

And this got me thinking.

Paper towels
Plastic baggies
Garbage bags
Paper napkins
Feminine napkins
Toilet paper
Disposable dish cloths
Plastic wrap
Wax paper
Disposable baking sheets
Cotton balls
Cotton ear swabs
Drinking straws

Those are 15 things that are single use items currently used in my home. And although we don’t often use paper napkins (we switched to cloth two years ago) the rest we do use and I have been using without much thought for a very long time.

I can tell you I will never give up toilet paper that, my friends, was a great invention. But what can I give up?

As I finish my lunch today and toss six (yes, six) plastic sandwich baggies in the garbage I think that can be one of my first “baby steps”. We run our dishwasher every night so utilizing (even plastic) lunch containers for my carrot sticks and another for my crackers would really bare no serious hardship, perhaps that is one thing I can “green” this week.

Can I “Green” one thing a week? I certainly am going to try – I have to, especially if I want there to be a tomorrow for TroubleMaker!

Baby step # 1 – reduce the use of plastic food storage bags

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