Thursday, May 19, 2011

Going Green: A Fad or the Future?

By Ellery Adams

Going green has definitely been the catch phrase of the year. I've viewed it with skepticism, because sometimes when you hear about a product that's supposed to be environmentally friendly, that's not always the case. Sometimes, its just good advertising, but not entirely factual.

Still, I'm down with the stuff that makes a difference. I recycle our garbage, use those expensive lightbulbs that take forever to warm up, and pump my gas early in the morning. But that's about it.

Last week however, I decided to count how many takeout cups I used over the course of 7 days. You see, I'm in the car all the time, dragging my trolls to school, to tutoring, and on errands. I end up eating whole meals in the car and drinking everything from coffee to water to iced tea on the go.

In one week I used 15 paper or plastic takeout cups. Even though these materials can be recycled, I decided that was 15 too many. 15 times 52 is 780 cups a year. That's 780 too many!

So I've loaded up on reusable containers and though there is a hassle-factor to cleaning these and actually remembering to carry them all with me each morning, I feel good about making this change.

Have you changed your behavior at all lately in order to be greener?


Min said...

When I was in middle school, my mom's school went magnet and became an "environmental and agricultural business magnet" school (man, did I feel bad for the secretaries who had to answer "Good morning! Thank you for calling East High School Environment and Agricultural Business Magnet High School of Choice!"), so I grew up with "reduce, reuse, and recycle" as a motto.

The biggest thing for me is that I'll go out of my way to tote recyclables home to toss into my recycling container, rather than toss them into a trash can now I live in a city that recycles.

Mostly, I get a kick out of living in a city that has an entirely green building - complete with waterless urinals (I did a paper on the building for my Environmental Health class a few years ago - including a picture of the inner workings of the urinals!).

Aimee said...

We have had reusable tumblers/travel mugs/water bottles for a few years now. We've gotten pretty good at the washing process.

We've used reusable grocery bags for a few years now too along with a market tote. The market tote forces us to buy fewer items in one trip. You take more trips to the store but there is a lot less waste.

We've made a concerted effort to download movies and music to avoid the packaging. Amazon now has a Trade-In DVDs program so we've been utilizing that to recycle the old ones and make some extra cash.

We also donate all our old technology.

The suburbs are full of single use waste but also opportunities to be more aware.

tonya Kappes said...

I don't carry recycled cups. But my life is centered around being green. My DH is a green electrician. He is educated in all things solar. Our middle school was built a year ago and it's COMPLETELY green, from solar panels, to green roof, to all recycled materials including the floor. My DH over saw the entire project...needless to say, I'm SO sick of green:)

Ellery Adams said...

Wow Min, your mom was a definite forerunner.

Oh yes, Aimee, I love the reusable grocery bags!

And Tonya, LOL, but your DH's job is way cool!

Booklady said...

My elementary school is very green. And each month I have to write an article for the PTA newsletter on ways to be "green." My challenge is bottled water. A little while ago I went on a serious life style change as far as diet and gave up sodas for water. The problem is I can't stand water out of the tap. I have at least compromised and buy bottled water for the cooler and then use a re-usable glass rather than multiple bottles. I also like how some of the lunch meant companies are now putting their products in plastic containers that can be used like tupperware or as storage containers for crayons, and other school supplies.

Barbara said...

We complain to companies that sell products in wasteful packaging, and recycle everything we can although we have to take it to the recycling center. I like our well water so I've been washing and refilling water bottles for years and having my coffee in my own insulated coffee mugs.

Ellery Adams said...

Barbara, that's a good point about raising issues with companies. I wish more companies, retail stores, gas pumps, etc. would give you a choice before printing a receipt. I don't want a receipt for everything and would gladly say no if given the option and then we'd save paper!

dollycas aka Lori said...

I bought all the kids travel mugs for Christmas, they said I should have gave them each 2, so that while one was in the dishwasher they had a spare. lol

Lynda said...

I do the usual stuff - recycle whatever I can, take reusuable grocery bags, use a water filter instead of buying bottled water, etc. But something else that I do that is a little thing but adds up now that I foster cats a lot is that I no longer buy cat toys. I attach strips of used fabric to a dowel for a fluttery toy (& sometimes use spray-on cat nip). My cats & kittens absolutely love strips cut from paper towel or toilet paper rolls - which can be recycled when chewed up. You just cut about a 1 inch stip from the roll, bend it back to a circle and toss it to them. It's light weight so they can bat it or carry it around. I've also taken used material scraps and sewed part of a plastic bag (& sometimes a little dry catnip) inside - they love the crinkle. I sometimes do the same thing and add a bell inside. If the toy needs to be replaced, you can usually reuse the bell.

Lynn in Texas said...

Interesting blog, JB! We live deep in the country with NO recycling centers nearby, but I try to be as green as possible when I can. (Tap water filters, reusable bottles & tumblers, squiggly light bulbs, etc.)

Also, besides for monetary reasons,we try to cut down on unnecessary car trips and gas emissions by strategically planning our outings.

But--does anyone else every forget to reload the car with the reusable grocery sacks, or am I the only one? ;)

Lynda, love your cat toy idea, thanks!

And in case y'all haven't seen this, here's a new-to-me creative way to recycle some plastic, which I haven't tried yet but looks interesting:

and one more for a shoulder bag:

Aurian said...

I'm not much for a recycler, besides all glas goes into a glas container. But I do use the lightbulbs that safe energy (and last for years). I have several re-usable grocery bags, but I also use the little plastic ones for my own trash instead of the big grey ones.

signlady217 said...

Small southern towns sometimes take a while to catch up to the rest of the world! Ours just started a city-wide recycling program about three years ago, only paper and plastic, no glass,and an every-other-week pickup. The container is only about the size of a normal storage/tote box. I break all boxes down just to be able to fit more stuff in the space. I'm wondering when they will go to an every week pickup, as some of our neighbors' containers are usually full and overflowing every 2 weeks! We're pretty good about remembering to put the junk mail/envelopes, toilet paper rolls, Wal-mart bags, etc., over in it. That's our main stuff that gets recycled (no kids, so we have less than most people!).

I know I've seen pattern books for making rugs and stuff from plastic bags and I've thought about trying that, but I sure don't need to get involved with any more craft projects right now. I have plenty to do with my scrapbooking, quilting, reading, crossstitching and genealogy researching! :)

Maggie Sefton said...

I'm a big believer in using my own take out mugs. primarily because I am drinking something all the time, so it saves me a bundle of money by taking my own tea, chai, coffee, whatever with me. And no more trees are dying. . .except right now I'm in a coffee shop w/daughter Melissa and we've got chai to go in tall paper cups. Oh well, we can build up credits, can't we?

Vickie said...

We keep reusable totes for grocery shopping

Recycle the glass, aluminum and paper in the recycle can

I turn over notes sent home with Lady K from school and if the back is blank to use as note taking or address labels

We compost the heck out of any and all compostable foods. We turned half of the back lawn into a veggie garden this year. The last few years it was along the back fence, but we decided to turn that into a wildflower garden for the bees and the half of the lawn that has never grown in is now going to be a producer of corn, tomatoes, green beans, peas and hot peppers.

ev said...

I've been using shopping bags for years. I just put them by the door and my purse when I empty them and then throw them back in the jeep. Which is not economical gas wise, but there are somethings I refuse to give up!

Fiona L. Woods said...

When I got married, my husband built me a greenhouse. We just decided this
spring to add solar lights to the greenhouse. We're going to see how well they work, as I live in the Pacific Northwest where we get more rain than sun. If the solar panel works for the lights, we'll be adding another panel for heat next year.