Earth Day 2011

I try really, really hard to be environmentally responsible. I really do. I'm not going to extremes, but I do get the occasional eye roll from some of my friends (not naming any names) when they think I'm reaching a little too far to get in touch with my inner bohemian, tree hugger.

Yes, there are things I need to get better about (like buying new things, reusing ziploc bags, not wasting food), but each year I feel like I'm making significant changes in the right direction.

Last March we watched No Impact Man and I wrote this post. To sum it up, I was tired of complaining about the world going to hell and not doing anything about it. I set up some goals to make myself more environmentally accountable. Here they are with an update on our progress:

Goals from March 2010:
1. My office has sleeves of plastic cups for water and they are used at an incredible rate. I stopped using a plastic cup and brought a metal bottle from home. I figure I have saved over 40 cups in the last two and a half months. That's insane. If any of my co-workers are reading this... Ahem... The Alderman may have to come out on this one.

UPDATE: Success. Yay! Our Office Director gave us all cups when we moved offices in June. We're all in on it now. I have really good co-workers.

2. I've really been trying to bring my own bags when shopping. Trust me, I forget a lot, but I'm TRYING.

UPDATE: 70% of the time I remember. Lately, I've been doing a lot better, though.

3. I'm only buying "green" cleaning products, which I know does not necessarily mean they are good for the environment, but it's the closest I can get.

UPDATE: 90% success. Yes, we wash our floors with vinegar, but I have yet to break up with those easy little dish washer detergent blocks.

4. I'm trying to turn off the lights. You're welcome, Mom.

UPDATE: Work in progress.

5. Guess who started taking the train? Yup! It increases the commute time, however gives me some nice quiet time to read and a nice mile long walk between the station and my office.

UPDATE: LOVE the train and since my office moved I only have to walk a few blocks now.

6. We're doing some home improvement that will help us with controlling temperature, including replacing five windows and covering a basement window well with insulation.

UPDATE: Windows were replaced and basement window covered and yes it made a big difference in heat and gas bills.

7. Less meat. Cooking with less chicken and more tofu than I usually would. (I don't cook red meat, so this isn't a huge stretch.)

UPDATE: Kind of failed.

8. Only buying organic milk/yogurt and trying to stick to organic vegetables and fruit when they look ok. (Hey, Jewel, your organic produce sucks.)

UPDATE: 80% of our fruits/vegetables are organic and I only purchase organic milk and eggs these days. (Hey, Jewel, your organic produce still sucks and is overpriced.)

My other goals were to start composting (SUCCESS!) and get my vegetable garden going (it's built and we had minimal success with tomatoes last year).

All in all, not so shabby. This year I have fewer goals, because the above are still being worked on.

Goals for 2011:
1. Get a real vegetable garden going. Tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, and herbs shall make an appearance this year. Come over for a salad!

2. Less paper towel use. I have actually been trying to do this for the last few months and I've noticed a huge difference. Not everyone in our household is quite as compliant, but he's trying.

3. Stop wasting food. I have a terrible habit of forgetting what's in the fridge/cabinet and end up dumping stuff that's past its prime. I've gotten better, but I have a long way to go.

4. Reuse plastic ziploc bags. I have significantly cut down the number of plastic bags that I use by about 60% after a small investment in BPA-free plastic containers. Plastic bags were previously my go-to for storing food and packing our lunches. Now I use maybe two a week. Big difference.

Now that I've shown you mine, I want to know how you're being more responsible to our Earth... Did you make any changes last year that made a huge difference? What are your green goals for this year?


Oubairouk Mama said...

We just purchased some stuff from Natural Family Supplies... they have a great selection of Gear to Go Green (as they call it) and I'm so happy with what we got. In line with wanting to use less paper towel, we bought SKOY towels, which are super-absorbent quick-drying towels (kind of like a shammy), and you can microwave or dishwasher them. I just used the first one and I'm so excited! We also got the gauze drawstring produce bags (they are washable and to use instead of the little plastic bags at the store), dryer balls, and detergent for our cloth diapers.


Stacey said...

Love this post and will definitely write my own goals on my blog based on what you wrote. I love my inner bohemian/tree hugger but sometimes feel I don't always have time for her.

I recently bought bento boxes to significantly reduce my use of ziploc bags.