Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day One Hundred - Progress Report

Evaluating My Changes To See What Is or Is Not Working

Wow! One Hundred Days of Going Green! That's so awesome! Big pat on the back for all of us who have spent the last few months trying to be good Planeteers. :-)

Ok. Celebration is over, back to your desks, everyone. We've still got a long way to go.

This has been such an interesting adventure thus far but honestly, I'm surprised that I've lasted this long. Usually I get all excited about one cause or another and within a month or two I've forgotten all about it. However, I am learning so much about the environment and am really enjoying all the research that goes into the blog. Hubby thinks this is my midlife crisis, but really, it's an addiction. I don't smoke anymore and I no longer hold my liquor well enough to be a respectable alcoholic, so other than trying to raise my children, run a business and keep a home, what else is there to do?

I'm going to mark this centennial occassion by taking a temporary break from instituting new changes and will instead look back at the changes I've made and tell you how things really went. You see, I'm an eternal optimist and my posts reflect what would happen in my perfect little fantasy-ecobubble. Reality is always MUCH different. I slip up every freakin' day on one thing or another. But the good news is that this undertaking has so opened my eyes so to the fagility of the planet, that I could never, in clear conscience, stop trying.

This review is going to take more than one day, for sure, so bear with me. To make things easy (on me), I'm going to go in chronological order, listing twenty changes per day. And to raise the level of the laziness, I'll be taking a long weekend in the middle of it, to celebrate Autumn with my family. But, If you're new to the blog or haven't been playing along at home, this would be a great time to start, since I'll give you the real scoop on what is working and what just sucks.

So, without further ado, let's see how the first twenty changes have gone:

1. No More Plastic Grocery Bags - I love being the nutjob who pisses off the bagboy at Kroger. Mwah ha ha! (that's my evil laugh, but the keyboard doesn't do it justice). Actually, I'm surprised at how many good comments I get from cashiers. From Babies R Us to Target, a lot of people tell me that they think it's great. And after 100 days, I almost never forget to bring them with me!

2. No More Paper Invoices (Online Banking) - What? Paper invoices? Did I live in a cave then too? This is working out very well.

3. Picking Up Trash In Public Places - Hmmmm, pride is a funny thing, isn't it? I'm still way too embarrassed to do this during the middle of playgroup or anything, so I only do it when the park is empty. Also, it annoys the hubby..... so I do it more when he's with me ;-)

4. Purchasing Used Clothing - Not a perfect solution. For instance, I just can't bring myself to buy used underthingys, socks or shoes. However, when shopping for any other clothing item, I do check out Goodwill and the consignment shops FIRST then hit the regular stores for what I cannot find second-hand.

5. Canceling My Newspaper Subscription - huh. Forgot about that one. Yeah, we no longer get the Friday & Saturday paper and I don't miss it one bit.

6. Turning Off The Lights When Not In Use - Some of these changes work a little too well. I have turned poor Ethan into a one-man light brigade, so to speak. He runs around the house demanding the I shut off any unnecessary lights to avoid "wastin' lee-lectrickities".

7. Learning What Can and Cannot Be Recycled - OMG, if you only do ONE THING on this list -- make it this one! Even if you think you know what your municipality can recycle, please double-check -- I was amazed by what I learned!

8. Programming Our Thermostat - Did it, bought the t-shirt, and in a few weeks I'll need to re-program it for winter. It was a simple task and it cut down on marital disputes. Well, HVAC-related ones, anyhow.

9. Buying Locally Grown Produce - YUMMY!!! This has inspired me to the point where next summer I will probably join a local CSA and also grow some of my own tomatoes, peas and cucumbers right in the side yard.

10. Bringing My Own Mug to Starbucks - Ah, from bagboys to barristas, I'm annoying people all over Richmond! I forgot my mug a lot when I first started, but now I have my "car mug" that stays in the van at all times so I'm ready for a pumpkin spice latte whenever and wherever the mood strikes me!

11. Turning Off the Sprinklers - You know what, I bet no one even noticed. Our county has recently set mandatory water restrictions and a lot of people are bitchin' that their lawns will dry up, but hey, we haven't watered in months and ours is still alive. I'm beginning to suspect the whole irrigation system idea is just a farce created by the Sprinkler Industry of America. I bet they have an entire PR department dedicated to spreading pro-watering propaganda.

12. Putting An End to Junk Mail - pffff. What a freakin' joke. I spend at least a half hour each week on the phone trying to get off of people's list and I haven't seen a BIT of difference. If anything, it seems like I'm getting MORE mail than before. I'm considering giving up on this one, or at least letting http://www.41pounds.org/ give it a crack.

13. Taking A Break - OK, what made me think THIS was a post? What the hell does that have to do with saving the environment? Although, I made TODAY a post and I'm not really changing anything now either. But then again, it is my blog...

14. No Hot Water For Laundry Washes and No Bleach - Don't miss it, don't care. Although hubby did ask about all the pink socks the other day. Doesn't bother me... I like pink.

15. Using All-Natural Cleaning Supplies - Hey! It's only been four months, but I finally used my green cleaning supplies! No, no, I didn't actually mop the floors, but I did wash a couple mirrors and scrub the tubs. That counts, right? It's nice to not feel like you're going to asphyxiate and be found dead on the bathroom floor with a toilet brush in one hand and a can of Ajax in the other. There are so many better ways to go....

16. Switching To Cloth Napkins - Everyone in the family has adjusted and it's just the way we live now. No big whoop.

17. Using Freecycle to Get Rid of Unwanted Items - Freecycle ROCKS! I got someone to take all my toxic cleaning supplies and air fresheners, in addition to a huge stack of magazines and a bunch of kids' clothes. It's like when we lived out in Bumf*$#, NY and we'd put crap on the side of the road with a big cardboard sign that read "FREE STUFF". By next morning, it was always gone!

18. Educating Myself About Plastics - Wow, I learnted a Lot of Smert stuff. Seriously, the more I read, the more I realize that I don't understand chemistry. I have, however, learned enough to know that I can only recycle #1 & #2 where I live, that I should NEVER EVER put plastics in the microwave and that PVC is the WORST kind of plastic ever invented and should be avoided whenever humanly possible. I've also learned that plastic is EVERYWHERE. You can't get away from it. Although many plastic items are truly useful, we should all try to minimize our consumption (not literally. Well, yes literally, of course, but I meant "consuming" -- as in "purchasing") of plastic products.

19. Giving "Green" Gifts - This is fun because it really makes you think. It can require more effort to come up with an idea and a cute presentation, but the effort is all worth it! It's nice to give a gift and know that it won't soon end up sitting in a landfill for 1,000 years. Hopefully the recipients share my view.

20. Talk to Your Friends & Neighbors About Recycling - If you recall, it was my extremely gregarious friend, Leah, who spoke to her friends and neighbors, not I. I speak to exactly one neighbor. That is our 14 year-old babysitter who needs to know where to put her empty soda can. I also have a whopping three physical (as opposed to virtual) friends who know about my greening. I don't know why, but saying "So, recycled anything exciting this week?" just doesn't seem like a natural conversation starter to me. Although it's probably slightly better than "Hi. My name's Erin and I'm an eco-holic".


leslie said...

You're just great!
I started off your list laughing along with you, evil laugh and all, with the line, "I love being the nutjob who pisses off the bagboy at Kroger." Funny!
What a great idea to review all you have accomplished.
Hearty congratulations on 100 days!! I am impressed. I raise my cup of chicken soup with cayenne to you...

Burbanmom said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Leslie! Hope you are feeling hale and hearty soon! :-) Otherwise, I might actually have to go buy a book to read at night....

leslie said...

I am starting to feel better. I have been treating myself to visiting other blogs, and commenting on them. Hope I haven't overdone it over here. You just have so much good stuff to talk about!
Have you been reading the 'trip'?
I've been afraid that I have bored a number of readers out of their minds.
I'll start up again in a few days. In the meantime, go to the Borrow Store :) The Library.
My library card is my favorite credit card in my wallet.

Burbanmom said...


I absolutely have been reading the trip, and have been laughing my a$$ off at most of it! What an interesting time you and Mike have had traveling the US! I can't wait for you to start up again....


leslie said...

Hey Burbanmom,
I am glad that reading about the trip is not a 'bummer' trip, because in hindsight, I find it holds a LOT of humor, in and around some of the wierd stuff.
I have the next episode in the queue, but have to edit and check links.
Your blog needs to be 'discovered' by somebody that could get you a Nobel Prize or something. Seriously.
The last posts of evaluation are great.
You go girl!