Friday, April 22, 2011

The Good Earth

I think every year I have blogged I have meant to do a special Earth Day post and I botch it up every time. I went through most of today thinking it was Thursday and I therefore had another day to get my post together. Well, that wasn't right. So, here I am at one hour 'til midnight trying to get this posted in time. I'm such a goober sometimes. Sorry for the lack of photos too. Would have been nice considering the post material but my computer is in the shop for a few days so I am posting off Jack's laptop and it will not accept the card from my camera, so, photos later I'm afraid.
Anyway, I know there are tons of better blogs out there for information of recycling and reducing our impact on the earth but I just wanted to write a little about what I do. I'm sure most of it you've heard before but there might be a little new info and ideas in there. Plus, I usually write about building and creating but I advertise my blog as being 'green', so I thought I should write a little about my efforts there.
We all know the mantra of Reduce, Recycle and Reuse and of course, ya'll know I try to use salvaged and recycled building material whenever possible. I do also try to apply these principles to everyday activities too.
Mainly, my big goal lately has just been to Reduce my dependence on many things so that I don't have much to Recycle or Reuse. Reducing my dependence on store bought things also isolates me from problems when there are shortages in the stores or price hikes, like with gas. Being able to work at home has greatly reduced the amount of fuel I go through. My truck often sits for several days without being cranked. Of course, this saves me lots of money and I am fortunate that I am able to do this. I know most people cannot work at home but I think lots of us could find ways to reduce our gas usage and many people are finding ways to work closer to home.
I am also working on reducing as much of our garbage as I can, whether or not it can be recycled. As soon as I am able to produce a decent tomato harvest I hope to start canning my own sauces and salsas, etc. thereby reducing having to buy these items and discard or reuse the containers. We have recycling in our area but not much for glass, therefore, when I do have to buy a glass container I try to make it one that I know I would like to use for storage later. For example, I get jars that are a good size for storing broths and juices in the refrigerator, dried foods and herbs in the pantry or homemade dressings. I use small yogurt cups for potting seedlings and reuse all of the ones from buying plants. I wash and reuse all Ziploc baggies. I don't use as many as I used to because I'm not on a construction site anymore (we could not bring glass onto a site) but I still use some. This freaked Jack out at first but he has gotten used to it. It amazes me so many people will throw them away after just one use. They are throwing away money to me. We save some cans or jars for holding nails and screws and such. I use cloth napkins but I must admit, I have not succumbed to using cloth toilet paper. And I don't know that I ever will. I'm not convinced that the energy expended washing that much cloth is actually less than the energy expended to create a roll of toilet paper and you can get toilet paper made from recycled sources so no new trees are chopped. Also, I just don't buy stuff that comes in layers of packaging. Another good thing about buying a side of local beef; it comes only in freezer paper. None of those nasty Styrofoam trays. Any paper or cardboard that does come in packaging and mailings is recycled, used for firestarting (if not shiny) or composted if plain. Did you know you can also compost wine bottle corks?
Of course, anything I don't reuse I recycle. I have bins in the pantry and on a day when I am going to Birmingham anyway I drop off my recyclables. This is usually steel, #1 and #2 plastics and maybe some paper. Also, there is a small family in the area that collects scrap metal for their living and anytime I have any metal besides cans, like an old lawnmower or such, I take it to them. Let me tell you, they strip that thing down to nothing and sort all the different metals out, selling it for scrap. This helps me and them.
Besides reusing containers I also try to reuse clothing. If I don't want it anymore I either take it to Goodwill or maybe sell it in a yard sale. If it's not good enough for that I tear it up for rags. You can always use rags. It can be stuffing for a pet's bed too. You can make rugs out of Denim or sacks for storing supplies. Old pantyhose are great for tying plants up with, like tomatoes. Just cut them into strips. The pantyhose that is. Lots of crafty people make neat purses or backpacks out of old jeans.
Well, this post is getting long and I could go on and on but you get the idea. Mainly, I just try to think, 'do I need this or can I use this for something else?' before buying or throwing anything away. And ya'll know I'm a bit of a neat freak so I'm not the hoarder type that has a packed house of crap I never use. It gets used or it gets gone!
All these habits help me reduce my impact on the environment, although I know I could do much more (and am trying) but they also save me money!!
Do ya'll have any cool ideas for reusing everyday items that I did not mention?


ignatz said...

didn't know you could compost wine corks....and here I was saving them for a I just toss them in the compost pile or shred/chip?

Ed said...

I think we do just about everything you listed except wash plastic baggies and mass compost. It is against city ordinances to compost unless you buy a $300 approved bin so I just do what I can discreetly in my garden and out of site behind a garden shack. I mostly use 'tupperware' and don't really use many plastic baggies so washing them hasn't been a big concern yet but if I used them everyday for lunch, I probably would do so. I probably use a plastic bag once or twice a month.

I think one of the biggest things people can do is just live close to work and drive a fuel efficient car. I fire my car up everyday to get to daycare, work and back in a timely manner but I only have to gas it up probably once every 40 or 50 days. High gas prices? What high gas prices?

Although I disagreed with the politics and price, our city recently went to single stream recycling which means every person in town received a 60 gallon container on wheels which can be filled with newspaper, plastics, glass, metals, magazines and just about 75% of all trash our family produces. It has really reduced how much stuff we actually threw away.

Excellent post!

edifice rex said...

Hey Page! ha! I've been saving those things too! not sure what I thought I was going to do with them! I imagine they would break down eventually even whole but it would probably speed things up to chop them somehow.

Hey Ed! that's great that your city provides such in depth recycling. However, I can't believe they won't let you compost unless you buy their bin! well, somebody's buddy the bin-maker is behind that.
You are right about living close to work. I think that, in America, is the single most suck of oil. That and each family having 4 cars when they could do with two and driving to the store that's 1/2 mile away rather than walking or biking.

Jenn said...

Thanks to Jack for his generosity! This fan appreciates it!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hey Annie, WOW upper and lower case now and easier (at least for me) to read and maybe some other folks too. Yes, I do know that some fonts come out in all small caps. It's not too bad for limited text, but can get overwhelming. Thanks for listening to my input - much appreciated.

WOW, I thought I was being nuts rinsing out zome of the freezer bags we only used for freezing veggies and then reusing. I don't do the same with any that had meat, chicken, seafood or cooked food in them - but then rarely would store any cooked food in plastic bags of any type.
We also recycle and reuse store jars, expecially ones that certain tomato sauce comes in (Classico brand has good tomato canning jars).
We reuse newspapers for packing materials.
Egg shells and raw veggie matter gets composted. We go to recycling on a weekly basis and it's a single stream drop-off which means you can combine everything. Our garbage output is minimal.
I walk to the thrift store where I volunteer, also walk to the post office and local CVS when possible. Grenville volunteers teaching English as a second language and I hitchhike a ride and volunteer at the local library the same day. We grocery shop once a week and combine as many trips as possible. Gas was $3.79/gal here as of last night.

edifice rex said...

Hey Jenn! I will let him know!

Hey Beatrice! well, like I told Jenn, ya'll please don't hesitate to let me know if somethig is hard to view on here. I know some monitors show the blog a little differently than others also.
Yeah, those Classico jars are great! I save all those. It's great you can walk so many places and Jack and I often combine trips with one another also.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

We can walk to the P.O. because it's really close by our home and the CVS in as well. The "Y" isn't far, but involves crossing a highway so it's safer to drive the 2 miles. Forgot to mention that we also installed compact flourescent bulbs in all the lamps, except for a couple of 3-way lights.