Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve been making some greenish changes in my life (and not just the new blog color!). Along with the seemingly never-ending quest to eat less (making a smaller, leaner Ima), I’ve been trying to consume less in other ways. I want a smaller, leaner life. More balance, less excess. I’m making the move to a greener existence.

I’m buying less packaged foods. By focusing on the outer edges of the grocery store, I’m purchasing foods that have less packaging. I still hit the aisles because I do need some convenience items but I try to stay away from overly packaged goods. I’m buying in bulk when I can and when it makes sense. I’m fine-tuning my grocery shopping in an attempt to not throw away food because it’s spoiled. I could go on and on about my love of the FoodSaver for protecting food from spoilage and freezer burn but Duchess Jane has already covered that topic completely AND with pictures. I make stock from chicken, ham, and beef bones (shrimp is next!) along with peelings from my veggies. There are articles on easy stock making here and here. I’m buying some organic foods.

General shopping:
I’m purchasing less stuff. I’ve never been much of a shopper, so that helps. I use lists to keep me away from those impulse purchases. I try to only buy those things I need and/or love. My new peep-toe black pumps fall into both of those categories!

Gasoline Consumption:
I play a little game with myself since, admittedly, I drive one of those shame-inducing larger vehicles. I have a gauge that tells me what my current gas mileage is. Sure, it does the average, too, but by keeping my eye on the current number, I can see that gunning it makes it go down (duh) while a slow, steady pressure on the gas pedal has less of a bad effect on my mileage. It’s an ongoing contest with myself to see how high I can keep it. I try to figure out the shortest route to where I’m going and I combine trips as much as possible.

Electrical/Water Consumption:
I suck at this. I’m working on it. I leave the TV on when I’m going to sleep; although I do put it on sleep timer. I have a hard time remembering to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth but am working on that one, too. I’m slowly but surely replacing my light bulbs with these super-efficient, long lasting ones. They last for YEARS.

Existing Stuff:
I’m trying to give away much of the stuff I have in my home that I don’t need or love. If I feel “eh” about it, it’s going to end up at Hannah Home or Goodwill sometime soon. I’m not going all FlyLady about it (she scares me) but I’m trying to get rid of at least five things each weekday. MrWurdi’s son was talking last year about people who let their stuff own them. He’d been preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail and was, therefore, figuring his bare necessities so I suppose that had him pondering what he (we) really need. We end up accumulating so much stuff that we soon have to live in a bigger place or rent storage to keep up with all that stuff. We spend large quantities of our time maintaining and repairing our stuff. With all the time and money and effort we spend on our stuff, it ends up being our stuff owning us rather than us owning it. I will not be owned by my stuff.

We’re just getting started on this. Our local pick-up doesn’t have a large range of items they pick up for recycling but I suppose every little bit helps.

How Green Are You?
NPR has a neat, little quiz to help show you how green you are. The Consumer Consequences game asks questions about your lifestyle. While you play the game, it keeps up with how many planet "Earths" of natural resources it would take to sustain the 6.6 billion people on this one Earth - if everyone lived the way you do.

I know I’m not going to live completely green. I drive an Avalanche and a ’77 Corvette (with a high performance engine). That’s not at all green. So, I make the changes I can and am willing to make. I also try to balance the “me stuff” by doing for others. Whether it’s raising funds for breast cancer research with Team GDT or donating goods or volunteering for a local clinic or goofing off, improving my vocabulary, and donating food to hungry people or just trying to help my family when I can, I try to make it all even out. Balance, not fanaticism about anything.

I’m always looking for ways I can be more green. Any ideas?


Lydia said...

Buy reusable shopping bags, and use them at the grocery store (any store, really).

Ima Wurdibitsch said...

Gah! I do that. I meant to put that in there. Of course, now I need to work on always remembering to bring them in with me. ~insert blushing and eyerolling~

I also, on a whim, bought a bottle of Greener Planet wine. According to the bottle it's "a bottle made from partially recycled glass, with a label printed on recycled paper and using sustainable inks."

The wine itself? It's a blend of organically grown Shiraz (40%), Merlot (40%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) grapes. It was a little sweeter and a little less tannin-y than I expected. It was excellent with the Mexican-style dinner I prepared. I would buy it again.

Anonymous said...

More reasons why I think you are one cool lady! I too am working on staying on the periphery of the grocery store, and have been buying a lot more organic foods - particularly when it comes to things that the kids are eatting. We have done a lot of fixing-up around the house, and I have tried to move towards products that are more eco-friendly - we replaced our hot water heater with a tankless sytem . . . it heats the water as you use it, rather than heating and re-heating water that is sitting in the tank (this sometimes leads to longer showers, which is a bit counterproductive, but since the Driving Household believes in conserving water by showering together, we are working on doing our part!) I would love to upgrade to a hybrid vehicle, though I do very little driving, and they don't seem to make many that can accomodate three carseats. I am also getting quite good at clearing out the clutter, and am making a trip to Goodwill almost bi-monthly!

I need to make a better effort on some of the littler things, as they add up quickly and make a big difference (ie., re-using shopping bags.) Thanks for the reminder!

Creative Clayer said...

Heh. Now I feel a little guilty. We just bought a Brand new TV and all kinds of furniture at IKEA. Although, to be fair, I haven't had a dresser in over a year. And our current TV is a 13inch that my mom bought for our daughter. I also just bought this dress (in Tea Rose) for our marriage blessing.

Your post gives me a lot to think about to reduce my consumption. That wine sounds interesting, I've never heard of it before. The only thing I've done lately is to reduce processed foods (and that alone has helped me lose 20 lbs!)

ALF said...

If everyone did their part (like you) it would make a real difference, I think!

Ima Wurdibitsch said...

Aww, thanks, Driving! You inspire me, too. In fact, I have a post coming up next week that references something you posted about a while ago. I'll be sure to link back to your site.

C, I love that dress! It's gorgeous! Good for you for reducing the processed stuff. I know that since I've done it, I feel so-o-o-o much better.

Thanks, Alf. I'm trying. It's little things, mostly, but it all must add up, right?

Jane said...

I do a bunch of the same stuff as you. I am also nagging Duke hardcore to let me put in kitchen countertops made of recycled materials as part of our remodel.

Lou Meigs said...

I konw this is a little late, months late, but perhaps if someone else happens here they will see this idea. Instead of replacing entire counter tops, if you have laminate, you can just strip the laminate and put new on. We have a 50's kitchen with yellow metal cabinets and are dying to get new countertops but knew we'd be redoing back to laminate so we looked into the options. Far less materials, energy and cost go into the laminate than full, new-recycled countertops. Something to look into. I know I am waiting for my 50 year old blah laminate to die so I can get the new retro style, boomerang/atomic laminate.

Social Weight Loss said...

Yeah hard but will really make a big difference not just only to ourselves but to the whole world, If people were going to be like you, Mother nature will be happy and will give us more than what we need. Thanks nice story. Be Green and stay Green!