Part of my new year’s resolutions included working to be more eco-friendly. Our world and it’s resources are precious commodities. We, as earthly-inhabitants, need to work harder to care for it. I have seen too many videos and pictures of the horrors my “American/First-world culture” life style bring to the various ecosystems and habitats around the globe. We are a wasteful, instant gratification society who too often think only in the moment without thinking of the long-term repercussions. I am certainly guilty of this!
As I prepared for the new year I began to research ways that my family could do better to support our environment. My understanding is the biggest issues we are facing when dealing with the environment come from carbon dioxide emissions and massive amounts of waste being created without an effective way to get rid of it. My research reveled that there were two major changes I could make to help. Stop driving and becoming a vegetarian. Insert whomp-whomp noise here… Cars are a major contributor to green house gases, so if you stop driving, you’re helping. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that’s very feasible for our lifestyle. We live in the country and need to get to town for work, school, groceries, church and everything else. We can’t effectively and efficiently get anywhere without driving at this time. There aren’t any mass transit options in our area either. We do try to coordinate our drives to town and limit them as much as possible, but that’s about as much as we can do! The other area is giving up meat. Now this is a very conflicting issue for myself and my family. Animals for food production create enormous amounts of methane gas. In a year, one cow produces the same amount of CO2 as driving 7,800 miles. Now multiply that by the number of cows in our country… and there is a lot of gas going on! This isn’t including all the other species of mammals used for consumption or the driving/transportation that goes into raising, processing and distributing the meat. So I completely see how giving up meat would be a kind thing for the earth. However, we raise beef cattle. Having these cows allows us to stay in our home, maintain our farm, and give this lifestyle to our children. So we will not be going vegetarian any time soon and really hope you don’t either! Instead, think about a meat-less Monday (of other day) or having a vegetarian meal just one day a week. Also look into buying local meat that has less processing and transportation costs. (Hint: Talk to me directly!!! We might have something for you!)
So the best ways to become more eco-friendly weren’t really possible for my family. But I didn’t give up! I wanted to find ways that would result in easy transitions from our current habits along with changes we could maintain long term. So far, I’ve made three simple changes.
First, I made a commitment to bringing my own, reusable grocery bags to the store. When I make a trip to the grocery store, I could easily come home with 20-30 plastic bags every other week. A plastic bag can take up to 1000 years to decompose! That’s terrible! I invested a small amount into bags and use some I already had. I looked into several types of bags, and ultimately decided on three of these “Essential Storage Totes” from Thirty-One. I have a friend who is a consultant and was having a great sale, plus they are super cute! I love their size as they fit in most checkout areas and have longer straps to fit over my shoulder. They are easy to carry, easy to clean and fold up nicely. I keep all my bags stuffed into one bag and just throw them all in the car when it’s shopping day. I also purchased reusable produce bags. They are very light with breathable fabric. They came in a set of three and have worked wonderfully. I have found I can fit many more items into the sturdier bags and have only had to use a couple of plastic bags since I started using these.
The second change my family made was to become more diligent about our in-home recycling. We don’t have trash pick up, and have to take all of our waste products to another facility. In the past this has meant throwing everything in the trash so we only had to make one stop (recycling and garbage are at two different locations.) I decided that this was crazy thinking and I could easily make a trip to the recycling center once a month, or even less if we used the trailer. We have plenty of space in a shed to store recyclables. We had no valid excuses. I looked up our recycling center and figured out all the items they would take, including aluminum, #1 & #2 plastics, tin and glass. I started researching recycling centers and found the bins to be more expensive then I was ready to pay for. So I created my own! I purchased three totes and cut holes in the side, this way I could still put the lids on and stack the bins. I labeled each bins and VOILA! They have been working great for helping us organize and collect our recyclables.
Finally, I needed a new mop. Being a farm family with small people involved means our floors are ALWAYS dirty. It doesn’t matter how often I sweep or mop it could always use another “once-over.” I have used the swiffer wet jet for several years and loved it for the quick clean up, but hated the price of the pads and cleaner along with the constant garbage creation. We figured out how to reuse the bottles to refill the solution (Just use a pliers to screw off the top!), but I couldn’t get a reusable pad to work. When the mop broke I started looking into better alternatives. I found this little guy on amazon. The price was pretty affordable which was lovely, but better yet, it comes with refillable bottles and reusable pads. My only complaint is that when you are trying to scrub vigorously, sometimes it gives a little squirt of liquid comes out. It’s not a major deal, just wanted to share a full review! I love everything else about it! I can use any kind of cleaner (or just water) in the bottles and the pads can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer and come out good as new! It’s fantastic and I would recommend it.
So that’s where we are at right now! Next up, I’m working of figuring out ways that our family can be more efficient with water use and making some travel bags for reusable straws. Do you have any eco-friendly tips I should try? How are you saving the world today?