Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Progress Report Continued....

Days 21 - 40

As I said yesterday, now that I've reached 100 days, I'm taking some time to tell you the honest truth about how this little experiment is going. Some things are great, others not so much. I'd love to hear from all of you, though. Please feel free to leave comments if you've made any of these changes (or others) and let me know how it went for you. It's nice to hear how other folks are dealing with the same issues!

Here are today's good, bad and ugly:

21. Changing My Energy Supplier to A Wind Farm - OK, I did this online way back in early July. I thought I was all set, but on September 15th, I got an email from PowerChoice saying that the name I submitted to Dominion didn't exactly match the name on my account and the whole thing was null and void. Apparently, knowing my service address, account number, PIN, social security number, driver license ID, secret word and mother's maiden name just wasn't enough. Grrrrr. I went through the whole sign up process again and am hoping this time it "took". Guess I'll find out sometime next month.

22. Finding A Second Use for Lint - My lint log worked! I took up to Pennsylvania on a family camping trip and it did a hell of a job acting like wood. It takes a surprising long time to fill a paper towel tube with lint -- I'm still only on my second one. This will probably be my last log though. After I finish this I'm going to just start throwing the lint in the compost pile -- it needs more "brown matter".

23. Stop Using Paper Towels - My dishtowels are definitely getting a workout and sometimes I wish I had just one more paper towel -- but I always manage to find a decent substitute without too much stress.

24. Give Up Bottled Water - You know, we went to Blockbuster two weeks ago and I used a coupon I had for 2 free rentals and 2 free sodas. I didn't think twice about the sodas until they were home and in my fridge and then it dawned on me -- there is really no difference between a water bottle and a soda bottle. So in addition to swearing off water bottles, I've also sworn off any and all plastic, single-serving beverage bottles. Thank goodness my IBC diet root beer and Hornsby's Hard Cider are packaged in glass!

25. Write Letters to Politicians - OK, writing a letter every single Sunday is a bit ambitious for someone who cleans her house semi-annually. Since this post I have written exactly six letters to various politicians. But, that's six more than I would have sent otherwise and now, any time I get a bug up my ass about something, I write someone and let them know. It's seems to be more like therapy than activism.

26. Make Smart Choices About Packaging - Oh man, when I first started this, it was so hard to make these kinds of choices. My mind would start spinning the minute I walked through the automatic supermarket doors. But now, it's become second nature. The order of No Packaging, Reusable Packaging, Glass, Aluminum, Cardboard, Paper, Biodegradable, Plastic #1 or #2, Other Plastic is no harder than remembering the order of the birth of my kids.

27. Turn Down the Water Heater - I cannot BELIEVE I got away with this one. I thought for sure I would be caught by Mr. Shower-Till-I-Look-Like-A-Florida-Tourist. But, the jig will soon be up, as cold times are fast approaching and I'll be forced to turn the water heater back up to keep our house warm :-(

28. Plant A Tree - Oh crap, guess what I forgot to do. Mmm hmm. Yeah. I'll be hitting the nursery this week -- I promise! Any suggestions? And no, I can't plant pot -- my neighbor is a cop!

29. Skip the Plastic Toys in the Happy Meals - You know, it's the tasks that seem so easy that are really, really hard. Ethan only fell for the "they ran out of toys" line twice before he started scoping out other kids' happy meals to see if they got toys. I tried to ration with him. I tried to bribe him. I did everything short of boycotting McDonald's, but in the end, he beat me down. And of course, whatever the boy gets, the girl must get too.

30. Progress Report - This really motivated me to keep on making changes. I'm hoping the current progress report will have a similar effect. Again, feel free to tell me how you're doing!

31. Stop Using Weed Killers - Haven't used them at all since the post and I don't notice any new clover patches sprouting up. Of course, I also wouldn't really care if I did. If it's green, I'm calling it "lawn".

32. Switch from Alkaline to Rechargeable Batteries - This was a GREAT change! I keep four batteries in the charger at all times and I NEVER run out of batteries. Technology is so cool! Why didn't I do this long ago?

33. Giving in on Reusable Coffee Filters - Hehehehe, he may have won this battle, but I still claim victory on the war. I let him have his unbleached single-use coffee filters but I bought a $100 compost bin to put them in. HA!

34. Changing My Shower Routine - Not only does this cut down on chemicals and water waste, it gives me at least an extra three minutes of coffee-drinking / internet-surfing time each morning. To quote Martha Stewart: "It's a good thing."

35. Cleaning Out the Pantry to Avoid Waste - The pantry doors aren't closing all the way. Must be time to purge again.

36. Switching to Biodegradable Corn-Based Straws - These things are awesome. I love ALL my corny products and I don't understand why they aren't found in regular grocery stores. Shit like this should really be mainstream -- no one in the family even noticed the change.

37. Reusing Ziplock Baggies - Can you believe I am still on the same box of baggies that I bought in JUNE?!?!? These suckers (the big freezer ones) are damn near indestructible! I labeled them for different uses (ie: onions, bread, veggies, fruit, etc.) so I didn't get any cross-flavor contamination and everything is working just peachy.

38. Keeping My Tires Properly Inflated - I don't do this every time I gas up anymore. I thought I would see huge fluctuations in my tire pressure, but I don't. In fact, all four are pretty much spot-on whenever I check them. I'd say I check about every 4 weeks or so now.

39. Reuse, Reuse, Reuse - OK, my house is quickly starting to look like the home of an eccentric 80-year old shut-in who hasn't thrown anything away since bobby socks and saddle shoes were in style. I can't use all the bread wrappers, containers and toilet paper tubes fast enough. I guess that's my big clue that it's time to either find them a new home or start reducing, reducing, reducing.

40. Borrow from the Library Instead of Buying at the Store - Ethan calls it "The Borrow Store", which is also what he calls Blockbuster. We went quite a bit this summer, but then they caught a convicted child molester hanging out there and it freaked me out. I haven't been back since. Guess I'm not a very brave cowgirl.

OK, I shared with you, now tell me how you're doing....


Mary Elizabeth said...

Just two little thoughts before trying to make myself get back on the exercise train that I fell off of (and everyone keeps asking me about..*sigh*)

One: corn products - I got an ink pen housed in a corn based housing at a FFA convention a blue million years ago. It was so cool! And though I was never a pen/pencil chewer..that one was pretty tasty;) No joke. It was kinda sweet when you nibbled it. Yes, I know I'm admitting how sad I can be.

Two: I'm trucking all of the distilled water bottles from work home. I've paid for a second recycling bin (we have to pay for pick up here..and while I'm perfectly capable of taking to a center, this cuts down on my house mess, and I still have to take mixed paper and corrugated cardboard to the center) to help hold all the recycling we have + David's Bridal has...and we're still having to stomp the bottles flatter to fit 2 weeks worth of recycling in the two bins. Daniel says I'm not allowed a third bin;)

vera said...

We were looking through our gas bill and I couldn't understand why it was higher this summer than last summer; it turns out we didn't turn down the water heater! Doh. It's turned down now, but with the cold weather approaching hopefully we can keep it that way.

gregra&gar said...

Sorry, Erin. I was cruising along, happy for your progress until I slammed into #29!!!

As the old arabic saying goes, she gags at gnats and swallows camels. Worrying about fibbing to your children about the plastic junk and feeding the semi-organic junk of McDonalds, rather than never going back and never having to lie seems like an epitome. Merely supporting McDonalds at all is bad enough.

gregra&gar said...

#36 Be sure to see the new movie, "CORN"

gregra&gar said...

How I'm doing:
50% of my food comes from my garden and the rest from local farmer's markets, and eat all my meals at home. The only packages I buy, yogurt cups, serve as seeding beds and later with the bottoms cut out, protective collars in the garden. I accumulate one bag of trash from package wrapping and junk mail that has chemicals in the paper or ink once every three months. I shower twice a week whether I need it or not. I haven't driven a car in over 30 years. I haven't used air conditioning for almost as long.

I meditate in my garden shed every sunrise on my connection to nature and how that can give me insight into how humanity has gone so far off the symbiotic path, and what, if anything, I might do more to heal the rift.

Burbanmom said...

Wow guys! You ALL are doing wonderful stuff! G&G definitely gets the eco-award for lowest carbon footprint, but you should all be super-proud of yourselves for doing anything that takes you out of your comfort zone in an effort to help the environment!

Kudos to All!

- Erin

heather t said...

Just a thought on toilet paper tubes - I am saving mine to use as seed-starter pots next spring. Haven't done this before, so we'll see how it goes. Also going to check on your "lint logs" - if it works with paper towel tubes, why not toilet paper tubes?