Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Going Green

I have joined the Six Kingdoms Yarn Club and am patiently waiting for the arrival of my first package. I will periodically post updates with the projects and goodies from the club and also put the FO's on Ravelry.

This yarn club also has a side theme based on 'being green'. The first contest was to comment on the Clubs blog about the things that you do at home to be green. That is where I got the inspiration for this post.

As I put up my comment and started writing down all the things that I do at home to be environmentally friendly, I realized that I do a lot more than I though. I will admit that my actions may seem a little crazy but I didn't start doing these things all at once and it has taken me a while to get where I am now. I also feel like I'm not really doing that much and I would be very easy for anyone to do the things that I do, it just takes some time to get use to.

Most of my green efforts started showing up after I moved out of my parents house, and started my new job as an environmental technician. As I have probably mentioned in the past, I live with my boyfriend who is about as far from 'green' as you can get, but hes getting much better and probably doesn't even realize all of the green things hes doing.

The first effort I put forth was to practice the 3 R's. We recycle our tin cans, bottles (in Maine you get $.05 back if you return your containers that require a deposit), plastics, and cardboard. I read the news paper online to cut down on paper waste. I also recently learned that you can spin news print and other papers with a drop spindle, so I have been saving the colored pages for that. I reuse Ziploc bags as long as they have not had raw meat in them and I reuse tinfoil whenever possible. I bring my own coffee cup wherever I go so that I don't have to get a paper or Styrofoam one, and I have a Brita water pitcher in my refrigerator that I use to fill up my water bottles so that we don't have to buy bottled water. I have more than enough Nalgene/Sigg/Sport bottles.

Secondly, we have a worm bin that we compost nearly all of our kitchen scraps, vacuum cleaner stuffs, floor sweepings, dead plant leaves, etc. I also use the non colored news paper as bedding for the worms. I think the worms have been my favorite pets so far, I don't have to go out and buy extra food for them, I don't have to walk them or clean up after them, they don't need any maintenance or have to visit a vet, and they don't make any noise. This really helps reduce the amount of trash leaving our apartment, even with 3 people living there we only have about 1 bag of trash per week or less. My ultimate goal would be to get 1 bag per month but I would have to work really hard for that and do a lot of training with the other residents of the apartment to achieve that goal.

When it comes to food, I do shop at the local grocery store but I also try to visit the local farmers markets and farm stands as much as possible during the growing season. Its a short season here in Maine but defiantly worth going out to get fresh veggies. I have a small container garden on my deck as well that provides enough for us to have salads regularly throughout the summer and early fall.

At the grocery store I try to buy products that come in containers that can be reused or recycled with the least amount of packaging. IF (and that is a big IF), we buy paper products like paper towels, napkins, paper plates, they are all recycled materials. The bathroom tissue that we purchase is also made from recycled paper, the brand we use is Earth First.
When we are done with the paper items they are fed to the worms, guests may think its weird but that's just how I roll (I would like to say we here but the boyfriend would just throw them away if I didn't tell him to put them in the worm bin every time). One thing that I need to work on, and have not been very successful at, is bringing my own bags to the grocery store. I reuse the plastic shopping bags to knit with, but I have an over abundance of them now so I really need to spend the money to buy a few of the reusable shopping bags and just start using them.

To save on electricity and reduce my/our carbon footprint I unplug appliances when they are not in use and our other electronics (computer, tv, vhs, dvd, playsation) are plugged into power strips so that they can be turned off when not in use and they don't cause a phantom loading issue. I also make sure to go around and unplug any cell phone chargers that are randomly left sticking out of the wall, drawing energy for no reason. We use energy efficient bulbs in all of our lights. Our apartment has a kerosene heater that we only use during the very cold months, it is temperature controlled so I set it to a lower temperature when we are sleeping or not at home. Starting in April and until we can't stand it any more in the fall the heater remains off and unplugged. We also have electric hot water which really is a pain! I take quick showers and I am a huge advocate of the old saying "save water, shower with a friend", this really keeps the electricity bill down. I also try to hold off on washing dishes until we have a good amount, that way I'm not filling the sink a bunch of times to wash a few dishes. So far my most expensive electricity bill has only been $96 which I think is fantastic.

I think I have covered everything but I would like to hear from any readers as well, its always fun to hear about the things that others are doing to be friendly to the environment.