Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kermit Was Wrong

It is easy being green. And even if it requires a little effort, I believe it’s critical we all start making that effort—or else we’re going to watch our planet go to pot.

Last night I watched Oprah’s Earth Day special and it got me even more fired up about this critically important topic. She aired footage of the floating landfill in the Pacific ocean that is twice the size of Texas. Twice the size of freaking Texas. She showed images of turtles tangled in plastic, sea birds eating trash and debris, dolphins swimming amongst old water bottles and floating gunk. As an animal lover, I find this absolutely atrocious and unacceptable. This is as much—if not more—the animals’ planet as it is ours. We have to solve the problem of excessive trash and waste in this world. And I believe we can if everyone would just make small efforts.

It really doesn’t take much. There are so many green things you can do that are free—and can even save you money! Here are some things I do that have not in any way cramped my style or made my life more difficult:

• Switch to cloth napkins. They’re great not just at mealtime, but at meal-prep time. If I wash berries or tomatoes or anything, I dry them on a cloth nappie instead of a paper towel. Saves money and trash space.

• Use a real coffee mug at the coffee bar. I actually worked at a coffeehouse throughout college and the great thing about reusable mugs is that you get more bang for your buck if they’re bigger than the standard paper cups.

• Keep a stainless steel water bottle on hand. Paired up with a Brita Water Pitcher, this prevents me from spending money on designer water and it reduces consumption of plastic bottles.

• Reuse tissue and wrapping paper. All you have to do is neatly fold up tissue, keep it in a box somewhere and it works good as new in a cute gift bag you pass on to someone else.

• Wash and reuse plastic utensils. I started taking home any plastic silverware I used at work and washing it so I could bring it back and use it again. I should probably just start bringing real utensils in my lunch bag…

• Use Tupperware instead of baggies. Plastic bags are so last decade. Packing food is even better in Tupperware because things don’t get smooshed in your lunch bag.

• Clean with earth-friendly products. Method makes a great line of stuff that’s comparable in price to other tried-and-true solvents. An easy switch.

• Shop with reusable bags. In addition to using big canvas shopping bags, I bought string bags that can be used for produce purchases. They’re awesome—they expand to fit all sorts of things in them—so when you go to check out, you can put other groceries in the same bags as your fruit and veggies.

• Save pasta or steamed veggie water. If you let it cool, it’s a great thing to water plants with.

• Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. They take a few seconds to get to their brightest point, but they last longer and require less energy.

• Recycle. This one seems like such a no-brainer. But I’m sure there are still people out there who don’t do it. I put every piece of paper, junk mail, cardboard packaging, Styrofoam, plastic, glass and aluminum I can in my recycling bin.

• Terracycle. These guys are taking recycling to a new level. They turn wrappers, drink pouches, wine corks and more into new products. Trés green chic.

• Compost kitchen scraps. Despite the fact that I accidentally killed one batch of composting worms, I’m going to modify my receptacle and take this up again. It removes a lot of bulk from my trash each week. And the worms aren’t gross...after awhile, you develop an affection for them!

• Donate old clothes, knick knacks, books, etc. etc. to the Goodwill. Landfills are overflowing with stuff that other people could be using right now. Just because you don’t want something anymore doesn’t mean it’s trash.

Other great ideas I’ve seen people around me doing: Using biodegradable bags to pick up pet waste, using disposable bamboo plates and cutlery in place of paper, buying Preserve products, skipping meat once a week to cut down production costs associated with the industry, buying clothing made of recycled materials, making new candles out of the wax left from old ones, actually going to the library instead of filling their homes with newly purchased books, and the most noble of all: biking to work.

Any little steps we can take will make an impact. And when you add them all up, the impact could be huge.


christina said...

I think I just had a mini orgasm. Love this post. F Kermit and keep up the good fight. (Totally kidding about Kermit, I love him...even if he did get the whole green thing twisted.)

Semicharmed said...

I have yesterday's Oprah on dvr ready to watch tonight, it's amazing the little things we can do as a country to cut down on trash - such simple things, like switching from baggies to tupperware & to cloths from papertowels. It really is a no brainer. Makes me hopefully that our grandchildren and great grandchildren might have a healthy environment to grow up in.

laura said...

good tips...i am not nearly as green as i should be...and you've succeeded in making me feel guilty. ;) But I am still not getting worms.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

I'm down with most of these ways to make the planet a little bit better. Except one. No plastic utensils in our house. Period. My husband sneaks them into the dishwasher. And inevitably they melt. Every. single. time. I told him no more. And that he can take our old, pre-wedding-registry silverware to work instead.

Amy Turpin said...

We have really focused on recycling in the past year. We ended up getting another recycle can and now we only put our trash can out every other week. If your can isn't full, don't put it out - then the garbage truck doesn't have to stop and start in front of your house = less pollution.

Hannah said...

I am so happy you care. Thank you for doing your part. Thank you for posting this information. You’re a good little earth muffin :)

My dad worked as an environment and animal preservation educator so most of this list has been drilled into me since I was in the 5th grade

The more people who know what to do, the better off we all will be. Still though, I am just astounded so many people are too stubborn to change. It's as if they don't think it's a real problem. I guess I am a bit naive when it comes to people not doing their part, I'm like "what do you mean you don't recycle?"

Kim Wilson said...

I will go ahead and toot my own green horn b/c our family pretty much subscribes to everything on your green list (although there's always room for more changes). I committed myself to making some serious changes about a year and a half ago after taking an environmental health class-it rocked my world. Some other suggestions (some of them Oprah inspired) are:

-Recycling old t shirts and using them as cleaning rags
-Consume less processed foods (along w/ cutting down on meat consumption). A good rule of thumb is that if it comes in a can, box, or plastic, buy in moderation.
-Along those lines, buy food in bulk. I buy beans, rice, nuts, flour/sugar, snacks, etc from the bulk bins at the market (and store them in plastic containers @ home)
-Grow a vegetable garden
-Only buy fruits/veggies when they're in season and buy produce that's grown locally, if possible.
-Stop buying bottled water! I think you mentioned purchasing some reusable water bottles-amen! Also, if you're like me and not a big fan of the taste of tap water get a filter on your faucet (or in my case I drink the filtered water from the refrigerator)

Thanks for posting this and reminding us how important (and easy) it is to make changes in and around our homes that have the potential to make a substantial impact. Keep fighting the good fight! BTW--I'm about to start my compost pile out in the backyard and I never thought a heap of garbage could make me so giddy. Will keep you posted on my veggie garden too! Hoping the compost does it's job as an ideal fertalizer :-)

Dingo said...

This is a great post. I look for ways to be green but I'm lazy, so I look for easy ways to be green.

About a month ago I went online to look for homemade cleaning products. I found a great recipe for after shower spray and other things. It takes almost no effort to mix them up and my apartment smells clean and not chemically.

Hannah said...

Hey there, I nominated you for a sexy blogger award. :)Come to my post to get it.

Anonymous said...

I got spoiled by my old office that had Sparklets in our kitchen, so now I bring water in bottles to work.