Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Always room for improvement

Although I haven't posted about it recently, I think about environmental stewardship almost every day. It's very important to me to continue striving in this area.

Areas in which I want to see our culture improve in being better stewards of creation:
  • Turning off porch/outdoor lights in the middle of the day; actually, it drives me nuts anytime a light is left on in an empty room (other than being gone for just a few minutes).
  • Wasting less water--when brushing teeth, washing dishes, or taking unnecessarily long showers. (I worked at a camp for several summers and quick showers--less than 5 minutes--are my routine).
  • Not throwing food away. Since we frequently eat at the campus cafeteria, I am often appalled by the heaping trays that enter the dishroom. I try to only take what I can eat, and to eat whatever's on my plate.
  • More effort in recycling. When I see aluminum cans or plastic soda bottles in trash cans (or worse, in the street), I cringe. I have been known to bring them home for recycling. It's difficult for me to understand apathy towards this valuable process.

Areas in which I personally want to improve in being a better steward of creation:

  • Re-using paper. I like the crisp look of blank white paper, and admit I do not like to print recipes or even rough copies on used pages.
  • Reducing disposables. We do a fair amount of hosting/entertaining, and it's often easier to use paper plates and napkins. I want to make a more concerted effort to lessen our consumption of these items.
  • Adding layers (blanket, a sweater) as a first step before turning up the heat. I don't like being cold, but even a degree can make a difference in the savings of energy (and money)!
  • Buying more staples in bulk (frequently used items that have a long shelf life). I recently purchased huge bags of rice, flour and sugar. Because we have ample storage space, this works for us. It's nice to know these items won't be on my list anytime soon, and that it's a small way to reduce all that packaging!

I have so far to go in this area, and desire this post to be a challenge (to myself as well as others), not a rant/complaining session. I would love to hear what some of your green wishes and goals are--please share!


Niki RuralWritings said...

Good Morning Carrie :)

We have recently switched to tote bags for groceries, along with a couple of plastic grocery "bins" in an effort to reduce how many plastic bags we use. I hate them at the best of times and they say some of these bags take up to 20 years to decompose! We swtiched our light bulbs to the new more energy efficient ones and have installed a wood stove in our basement so hopefully the furnace won't be on nearly as much. We do have a woodlot on our property so this makes real sense for us, but might not for everyone, especially if you have to buy the wood.

Anyway just a few ideas we've implemented that I thought I'd share...going for a warm up on my morning coffee now...lol

Judy B said...

Hi well as for plastic gracery bags,I reuse them in my small trashcans and now I am trying to learn to make tote bages with them,and some of our grocery stores here will give youpaper bags if you ask for them instead of plastic.I also conserve water,when rinsing dishes I collect as much as I can for our garden,the soap in the water also helps to get rid of bugs in the garden and is not harmful to the plants or to us.When I have sheets of paper that are used I cut what is not written on and use them by the phone to take notes or for gracery list.We recycle,aluminum cans,tin cans,newspapers,and plastic bottles.If everyone found a way to recyle we would have a lot cleaner environment.Most of our left over foods or pealings from fixing meals goes into our compost pile.There are so many ways to recycle,we just have to think.

Mary Ann said...

I think about this so often too, Carrie! I was raised to be conscious of those things and now a lot of what I do has been driven by frugality. But more and more, I'm wanting to make "green" changes because it is just so much better and is a responsible way to live.

I have many of the same goals and wishes as you do. I've been thinking a lot lately about just simply reducing. We get really good at reusing and recycling, but I'm making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of stuff I have, the amount of extra packaging in foods I buy(which in turn lends well to a a fresher whole foods diet), the amount of energy, gasoline,water, etc. that I use.

I have really gotten into buying second hand first before looking at things new. Of course, it is not always possible or even wise for some things to buy used, but for clothing and many household items it is. I love to sew and lately I have begun using and buying used clothing and linens at thrift stores and yard sales for many of my projects. I will still buy some new fabric on occasion but it is so much fun to use up what is already out there!

Great post, Carrie!

carrie said...

Niki and Judy B,

Thank you so much for sharing these ideas. I re-use our supply of plastic grocery bags for each shopping trip, which I posted awhile back.

It's so true, Judy--little things can make a big difference!

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...


This has been on my mind a lot recently. I have just started to recycle. Currently we recycle aluminum and steel cans, plastic, glass, newspapers and magazines. It is a little more work since I have to take things to the recycle center. (We can have curb side pick up for $5/month, but I am too cheap!) It drives me crazy that so many things are packaged in cardboard and we have no way to recycle it around here!

I lived in Germany for 3 years and the US is so far behind the times when it comes to recycling. It was manditory in Germany and if you didn't do it correctly they would fine you.

I also have a long way to go in this area and look forward to hearing your ideas. Thanks for the inspiration!

Lisa said...

Great topic Carrie! I try to do my best out here too as I think reduce,recycle, reuse is very important! I love my reusable grocery bag all the time but when I do forget it I don't feel bad getting a few plastic bags as I use them for kitty litter removal and paper bags are great for making decorated wrapping paper or as a dropcloth for craft projects and such. I think my downfall is using too much paper, at home and at work. I always have the best intentions of finding uses for paper remnants but sometimes it is on the bottom of my list...bad Lisa! Your post has encouraged me to find better solutions for the paper that doesn't make it into recycle bins :)

Oh, I also started buying my spices in bulk as I realized they are all getting low and I didn't want to buy new in containers since I already have containers from the last batch. It cost mere cents to buy in bulk to fill the containers instead of $3-5 for new packages and the cost of throwing away perfectly good containers!

Susan said...

Oh man. Living in Germany, everything is recycled. Utilities are triple the cost, gas is $6.00 a gallon. Shower, Wet hair. Water off. Soap hair and body, water on to rinse. No plastic bags at all for shopping, the cashier checks items and throws the items at you and you throw it back into the cart at lighenting speed. Roll cart to the car and put into your items in fold up pastic crate in the car. It is unbelievable how they conserve EVERYTHING.

Sarah Markley said...

Great post! I am a saver by nature so water, electicity, etc is already on my list. I just began using reusable shopping bags too, so I have no new ideas. Its hopefully going to be a easy task to teach my kids this type of stewardship because of the current focus on this in society. Good post!

Molly said...

Great post! Check out this article I read today on CNN. It has some fun ways to involve your children.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Carrie -- I was interested to read your post and the comments you've received. It is sometimes discouraging to observe so much waste in our culture -- but if we each do the things we can, it will make a difference (and set an example for others!).

As you know, we have recycled for years and also compost. Weather permitting, I like to hang laundry outside on my "solar dryer" (AKA clothesline!) -- especially sheets. They smell so fresh when they have line-dried. I also try to plan errands so that I am driving efficiently to conserve fuel.

Mostly I think this is an attitude -- I want to be a conserver rather than a consumer. Remember when camping, we always tried to leave a campsite cleaner than we found it? That is how I look at my little corner of the world -- I want to leave it cleaner than I found it.

Keep up the great ideas!
Love you, Mom

justabeachkat said...

What a great post Carrie! Every little thing we can do will make a difference.


A, B & C said...

I just made a list of my own today. The one thing I forgot on the list is my quest to live more mindful of the environment. I have also been known to pick up cans for recycling! I don't do it so much now that I have a sweet babe who needs my germ-free hands.
I also use canvas bags for my groceries. I put single purchases in my purse or diaper bag. Anytime I forget a shopping bag and have to carry something home in a plastic bag, I put them in a container and use them for something else.
Oh, and for entertaining, like you mentioned. I have bought inexpensive hard plastic plates and cups. They wash well in the dishwasher on the quick cycle and it doesn't matter if they break or get lost.
We have radiators in Europe, but I love the timed thermostats in the US. You can turn the temp down at night and during the day when no one is home.

Tamara said...

does your campus recycle? Many do not. It might be a fun and rewarding project to start.

I just started a project with a local high school to compost the cafeteria waste and that will eventually turn into organic no-till gardening

thehomespunheart said...

Carrie - I've continued thinking about this the past couple of days. It seems like in my stage of life, it is easy to waste things - because the girls do not care if the water is running or the refrigerator door is open or a light is left on.

I am actively training them to remedy this - but in the meantime, I look forward to what you could suggest in this area as you approach this with Nathan. And, it may be that your thoughts come in a year or so - I'll still need them then! :)

NeedANap2 said...

I know I take too long in the shower (closer to 15-20 minutes, used to be longer!) but it's my relaxing time. I know showers use a lot less water than baths (I was surprised when I first learned this) so I'm doing something right (well, maybe?).

Sounds like you're on the right track.