A couple months ago, I read a post on the EcoWomen site: Four 'R's for Modern Environmentalists.
We've been trying hard to reduce our carbon footprint around here. Even the boys are interested! It's easy to feel all green and awesome when we recycle and reuse commodities, but in fact, recycling burns fossil fuels and creates waste. Recycling plastics is difficult and expensive. Usually, plastic cannot be recycled into the same type of item, and products made from recycled plastic are often not themselves recyclable. So, we keep trying to improve.
I recently switched to recycled, unbleached printer paper. Unbleached paper uses less chemicals in its production. It's not bright white, but since most of our paper is used in artistic endeavours it doesn't matter at all. The kids' schools won't mind if projects are printed on slightly offwhite sheets (I think they look nice, actually). Most other household printing, when you think about it, can be on any old thing. Buying unbleached recycled paper is cheaper and better for the environment. In the UK I use The Green Stationery Company, which delivers paper to my doorstep very quickly. If there's a reliable U.S. one someone let me know and I'll link it! We've also switched to recycled toilet paper, having found one that's nice and fluffy on our behinds.
Almost every single non-food item we buy ends up as waste eventually, but even before it's thrown away it has affected the environment. Food production, clothes, gifts, moisturiser... Production, transport and consumption increase our carbon footprint. The next time you're shopping, think long-term. The cute top that's ON SALE? Do I really need it? I think that wearing the same old things IS cool, it's green, it's the groovy way of the future. I buy good quality, and it costs less in the long run. The bottle of water... I know, I can wait till I get home or ask for a glass of tap instead, if I've forgotten my own bottle. I did buy a new thermos recently, because I broke my other one and home coffee is nicer than coffee in a throw-away cup AND better for the planet. Moisturiser? I've got a few that need using up. I read that we should replace our sneakers every six months, and thought "Oooh, I need new ones!" but really? No. They're old, but they're comfy. Unless I'm training for a marathon, I won't need new sneakers.
We can Refuse to consume. I refuse free samples, refuse sale items if I wasn't going to buy them anyway, refuse groceries that we may not eat before they go off, refuse to shop just because I feel I deserve it, refuse to eat processed junk which comes wrapped in three layers of packaging. We use our library, give and receive hand-me-down clothes from family and friends (poor Max! But he doesn't seem to mind that almost his entire wardrobe is second hand!) and keep our TV unplugged most of the time, since we don't use it much. A TV on standby can cost up to £20 a year in electricity, so switch it off if you're not planning on using it today!
We have regular 'leftovers' nights, and use leftovers creatively in fajitas, omelettes and soup. Most of our meals are vegetarian. Our meat is deliciously organic. We've been getting our meat and veggies delivered by our local Riverford Organic Farm dude, and it's really working for us. Though I did have to give some of my leeks to a neighbour last week!
What have you done recently to reduce your carbon footprint and save money? What more can we do? It's good to think about it.