I admit it: my inner hippie adores Earth Day. Kind of like Valentine’s Day, it’s a day set aside to ruminate on love. What’s not to like about that?
John and I try to live a pretty green life here in Park City. We recycle as much as possible- glass, newspapers and catalogs, plastic containers. We rarely buy drinks in plastic bottles (I despise them). We use our reusable coffee mugs for java on the go. We buy mostly organic or local household products and food. We chose a smaller engine and the Partial Zero Emissions option for my new car. I rinse all of our laundry loads with cold water and use eco-friendly detergent. We use cloth napkins at mealtimes. Even our home is green! We were recently awarded silver LEED-certified status. It’s extremely energy efficient: we have a programmable thermostat, use solar power, enjoy toasty radiant heat under our feet on the ground floor, use CFL bulbs, etc. We landscaped with native plants and low-flow irrigation. I guess you could say that we try to make every day Earth Day.
In my past life, I helped spearhead a Green Initiative for our company, successfully making changes in our workplace to benefit the environment. It was about breaking habits and forming new ones, and I found that once people got started, it wasn’t as hard to “go green” as they thought it would be. John and I do a pretty good job at living consciously, but there are so many things we could do better. Obvious things. EASY things. Why are those the hardest? I took a walk around our home this weekend, taking mental notes of wasteful or inefficient things that John and I can do differently for the better of Mama Earth, our future family, and ourselves.
(You know I love a good list.)
Bring reusable bags to the store. This is all me. John is great about keeping some of our many reusable shopping bags in his truck so he doesn’t forget them. I, on the other hand, forget EVERY time. I’ve stockpiled an entire cabinet’s worth of plastic bags, which I rationalize by using them for cleaning up after the dog. I know the icky stats on plastic bags. We have plenty of reusable bags. It’s up to me to make a habit of using them, always.
Eat in season. Despite the short growing season in Park City, we have a fantastic Farmers Market and plenty of fresh produce to enjoy during the warmer months. We don’t have to go far at all to stock up on fruits, veggies, locally made breads, pastas, cheeses. True, it’s a little harder during the winter months, but changing up our recipes and regular meals throughout the year makes so much more sense than eating food that had to travel halfway around the globe to get onto my plate. Plus, it’s cheaper, tastes better, has more nutritional value, and less preservatives. No brainer.
Waste less food. I love a beautifully FULL produce drawer- but we rarely get through all of it before some of it goes bad. We throw away a lot of food- produce we bought too much of, leftovers we never got to, bread that’s started to change color…One of our goals is to cook around what we have in the house, as opposed to shopping for specific recipes for every meal. Most produce will only last for about a week, so I can try buying less of it more often. We are so lucky to live in a place where any kind of food is available to us at all times- to throw it in the garbage is embarrassing.
Plant a veggie and herb garden at our new house. When we both lived in Salt Lake City, we worked hard on a garden in John’s back yard. We grew various tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, tons of hot peppers, and lots of herbs. Our home in Park City has the double challenge of a short growing season and hungry critters in our backyard (elk, fox, deer, porcupine, skunk…sigh). We’ve got some ideas to make a garden possible, like a small greenhouse and container gardens on our decks. There’s nothing like watching something grow, harvesting it in your bare feet, and eating it for dinner. You know what goes in, so you know what comes out– and you save a lot of money on produce! This year, we hope to add carrots and some greens to our home-grown goodies. YUM.
Compost for our garden. We started making compost when we moved in, but without a garden to use it in, the process sort of halted. It’s time to start again! Every day, I trim veggies, peel carrots or potatoes, crack eggs… and throw the waste into the garbage. John would have a lot lighter trash can to lug to the curb each week if those scraps went into our compost bin, and our future garden will be happy, too.
Reduce the catalogs at our house. I can’t tell you how many catalogs we get in the mail between the two of us. These are companies I’ve never heard of or purchased things from, or don’t apply to me at all (Moto-Cross World? Really?). So they go straight into the recycle bin. But why waste the energy and money to recycle these catalogs if I could stop receiving them at all? Check out www.catalogchoice.org. It’s a free service that allows you to opt out of unwanted catalogs, and removes your name from marketers’ databases. I’ll be doing this today!
Use more eco-friendly cleaning products. As we attempt to start a family, this one feels pretty important. If we’re putting all of this effort into a green lifestyle in a home built to be environmentally friendly, why would we fill it with harsh chemicals linked to cancers, respiratory ailments, and allergies? I don’t want my future baby to breathe or crawl around on surfaces cleaned with something that could harm them. Or my dog, for that matter. Or my husband. Or me. There are a lot of natural cleaning products on the market, but I’m also interested in doing what previous generations did: make my own. Check out this link, which has recipes for homemade cleansers using things like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.
Reusable paper towels. We use cloth napkins, and buy recycled paper towels- but I’m still amazed at how fast we go through them. “Disposable” is just a word we should use LESS. I saw these reusable cloth towels, which are meant to replace paper ones, and fell in love. They’re super cute and machine washable. I’m interested in the amount of reduced waste and money saved by making this switch.
Unplug things that aren’t being used. I can still hear my Dad’s voice telling me to turn off the lights when I left a room. He instilled the habit in me, and I now find myself walking around the house, turning off lights and saving energy (and reducing the electric bill). But one thing I didn’t know is that items that are plugged in use energy even when they are turned off. I read that 5%-10% of residential energy use comes from devices that are plugged in 24 hours a day (even if they’re not used). It’s easy to unplug the toaster oven and coffee-maker until I want to use them, and it’s a little-known way to save energy and money. Read more.
I’m sure if I thought about it more, this list could get really long. These changes aren’t difficult, or even that much of an inconvenience. There is SO MUCH BEAUTY around us. I want my children- and my grandchildren- to enjoy a healthy, green, safe world filled with flowers and trees and animals and blue sky. By changing a few habits, John and I can help have an impact on our health, our home, and our pretty little planet.
Do you try to live a conscious lifestyle? What kind of things do you do to be green?
And since it makes me itch to have a post with no photos, here are some of my favorite places that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting on our lovely Planet Earth. These are magical places, filled with wildlife of all kinds, incredible flowers and majestic trees, and views that go on for days. Each time I experience the beauty of a new area, it makes me want to explore more. Take a peek!
The Hawaiian Islands
The Yucatan Peninsula
Glacier National Park
The Northern Cascades
The Washington Coast
Home sweet Utah
Really… what a WONDERFUL WORLD.
Happy Earth Day!
**For more of my wanderings, check out the TRAVEL BUG link above!**