22 April 2010

Earth Day or Thursday?

Today is the 40th Earth Day. Maybe you've heard something about it. Well what am I doing to observe the preservation of our planet today? Same things I do every day. Don and I have spent the last 4 years working on greening our lives. Clearly selling our car was one of the biggest decisions we made in this category. Besides recycling all we can (if you're not doing this even a little, you have no excuse these days. Start!), we've changed shopping, eating, and living habits to try and be better environmental stewards. I could go on and on about this, because honestly, it's something that's pretty important to me. But I'll try and keep it brief.

For the last year and a half, we've belonged to a Community Supported Agriculture group. If you've got a CSA in your area, I highly recommend joining one (go here to find out). You order or buy in to shares of produce from a local organic farm. In doing so, you share some of the risk that the farmer takes due to weather, etc. Every week, we get a delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables from a farm in Wisconsin. The produce is organic, not packaged in plastic, and seasonal, not to mention delicious. We also get fresh eggs (most grocery store eggs are 6 months old...). Our particular CSA (Harvest Moon Organics) is really amazing. Not only did they work with Don and I to set up a pick up in our neighborhood this winter, but they've expanded their offerings to include a cheese share, beef and chicken shares, and a fresh, organic flower share. We're participating in all, and I am especially excited about the flower share (traditional flower farms are one of the dirtiest growing industries). When we can't get a CSA share (right now) we shop at farmer's markets and pay attention to where our food is grown and how it's packaged.

Besides buying local and organic, we've started making a lot of our own foods to avoid factory food and the junk that is in so many processed foods. Movies like Food Inc and books like Michael Pollan's have helped educate us on exactly what is in those processed foods. In addition, we are avoiding genetically modified foods (corn, corn, corn). Our CSA farm works hard to propagate heirloom seeds to fight against the terrible things that companies like Monsanto are doing to our crops. And we'd rather just support local farmers and vendors instead of large corporations and factories.

Other 'greeeen' stuff we do:
  • walk or bike to work
  • buying less, recycling more!!!
  • CFL lightbulbs. duh.
  • reduce the amount of plastic we buy, since it can only be 'down-cycled' (we buy the milk in glass bottles that you return to the store, etc.)
  • compost our fresh food scraps (yes you can do this in the city and all you need is a galvanized trash can)
  • reduce internet shopping and shipping
  • shopping in our neighborhood whenever possible
  • cancelled magazine and catalog subscriptions
  • online billing and paying!
  • we have 2 people living in 650 square feet of a 4 unit building in which we don't have air conditioning (also don't need it)
  • unplug stuff when we're not using it, turn lights off
  • base purchase decisions on how much packaging waste is created & started buying things in bulk in reusable containers
  • use biodegradable and 'eco-friendly' cleaning, laundry and skin care products. I'd eventually like to start making all our own cleaning products, but right now I don't have the time or the space for a second set of kitchen utensils for doing so.
  • support business that make sustainable and eco-friendly decisions
  • purchasing products produced in the united states, from sustainable materials'
  • buying recycled products
  • changing cooking and baking habits to use things like silicone mats instead of parchment paper
  • eating less meat, and when we do eat meat, we make sure it is ethically raised, grass-fed and responsibly slaughtered. If it were practical for us to hunt our own animals right now, I would let Don do that.
  • washing clothes in cold water, and hanging more things up to dry. It's better for the clothes, anyway.
  • using cloth napkins instead of paper. We're working on going 100% paperless in the kitchen (that's right, no paper towels). I'm working on hankies instead of kleenex. Not quite extreme enough to go without toilet paper... (but when I have babies they will wear cloth diapers)
  • disposing of toxic items appropriately (paint, electronics, etc)
  • water saver shower head (allows both of us to take hot showers in the morning!)
  • washing and re-using ziplock bags (yes I am turning in to my mother...)
  • making shopping lists on my cell phone instead of using a piece of paper
  • oh, and obviously we take our own bags to the grocery store
Now, I know my decisions aren't practical for everyone. I'm not bragging or saying I'm better than anyone else for the decisions I am making. And I know some of these things are luxuries only available to educated, middle class urban dwellers. I'm doing what I can at this moment. I could certainly be doing more. Everyone could be doing more. I encourage you to take a look at what you can do to make every day a little more 'earthy.'

Now, if only I could start buying wine by the barrel instead of the bottle...

1 comment:

bungalowbungahigh said...

Wow, great and useful list here! We're also big fans of the CSA and rewashing our Ziploc baggies. Your de-escalating reliance on paper products is amazing.