Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, REFUSE

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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have a look at these websites. They, or their associated links, may spark some ideas:

http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/

http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2010/02/menu-planning-with-leftovers-70-week.html

http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

Vicki
(the last one is really interesting so Go back to it when it is up again)

Anonymous said...

By the way, I just came across this

http://2011.bloggi.es/

and thought...hey, that's a good way to find some good blogs!

vicki
soon we'll see you there too :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Thanks for the linky-love!
I'm refusing more and more. Become particular about what I purchase new and intolerant of other people always foisting trinkets and crappe on my kids.

acalre said...

It's a hard one to bridge because when you think about it. Unless we live in a tent (of animal skin) and grown our own food and hunt our own meat (which produce methane whilst they are alive). And use tools that are natuarally made then we are still a culprit.

However I can see that by cutting down we can help toward a better place. I just had my energy review and apparently we don't use as much so they are lowering our cost! Which is always good news! It also helps that most of our electrical goods are now very energy efficient. The average new LCD flat screen TV from a well known brand uses a quarter of the energy of an older one. (And yes I know the engery used to make it in the first place probably writes it off, but it nice to know they try). Apple make their laptops with recycled materials, although you may have to stop buying anything to own one!...hmm perhaps that's their plan... Genius!! And you can buy those energy efficient light bulbs.

You can make your home more energy efficient like this too. Make sure you have good insulation in the loft and windows that keep the heat in the winter.

Bedford council uses their residents compost towards fueling energy. And Hertfordshire uses their's on the farms to grow our food.

Anyway, I could go on... but it is danger into turning into war and peace!

Grandmother said...

Eating locally is a big part of our effort. The local farmers market drives our weekly menu, and bring our own bags and grow our own herbs on the balcony. just finished aa great book by B. King solver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She gives lots to think about as do you- thanks.