Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It *can* be easy being Green!

Happy Earth Day!

Get out your hemp sandals and organic cotton t-shirt! Jump on your hybrid shooter! Zip down to the farmers' market and buy locally grown tomatoes!

What? You don't have hemp sandals? No hybrid shooter? No farmers' market? Don't like tomatoes? What kind of environmentalist are you!? Oh.. the lazy kind?

Well, that is the beauty of being lazy in this day and age. It is actually EASIER than ever before to be a 'tree hugger'. It used to be HARD, tedious, stinky and soooo uncool. You had to like, grow your own veggies just to have simple, natural choices. You had to actually drive your recyclables to a dump, which is totally oxymoronic. You had to wear scratchy wool hand knit sweaters. You couldn't wear deodorant.

I found the following list in my grandmother's house. Dated circa 1991, you can see how difficult it was to be earth friendly 20 years ago.

“Helpful Household Hints for the person interested in conserving and recycling”

Wash used saran wrap and drip dry

Press used paper towels

Water down ketchup and mustard

Wash and reuse toothpicks

Wash, fluff and drip dry Q-tips

Sell all moldy bread to a penicillin factory

Deep fat fry potato peelings for handy dandy snacks

Take a bath with laundry-saves water and soap

Pressure cook old leather (makes good stew!)- for flavor throw in old stock!

(Author's note: KEEP reading folks, just gets better!)

Press clothes between mattress and box spring to save electricity

Save scrap mail for writing letters

Save bath and laundry water to wash car

Reuse tea bags at least 5 times a piece

Slice thin spaghetti lengthwise to make it go further

Save old egg shells for ashtrays

(Author again: And, to know you are a TRUE hippie!)

Save old newspapers, cut into 4” strips, perforate at 4” intervals for toilet paper.

I don't know about you, but by the time I was at the end of this list, I was on the floor, laughing my head off. Not only are some of these practices just gross and unhealthy (do they know how many chemicals are used in processing leather? yuck!) or possibly dangerous (paper cuts on the bum?, no thank you) but some must surely be outlawed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Isn't that why paper towels get thrown away- they are full of germs?)

See, even just 20 years ago, it was hard work to be an environmentalist. You had to shower with your clothes, eat watered down mustard and smoke to be able to use those egg shells.

Today, you can be an environmentalist soooo easily. Just be a consumer. As InSync used to say, “Buy, buy, buy.”

What? Oh, you think that is contradictory? You can't be a consumer and care about the environment? Well, we ALL are consumers, some more than others. And, in just our everyday life we can all make purchasing choices that push recycled materials, better energy options and a greater impact on the environment than washing out a Q-Tip ever could.

Each and every time you make a purchase, see if there is a better earth friendly option to buy.

~Purchase copy paper, envelopes, pens and pencils made from recycled materials

~Check out sneakers made from used recycled plastic bottles, like these

~If you don't/can't go to the farmers' market, look for 'local produce' signs at the grocery store

~Try Marcal's line called 'Small Steps', which are 100% recycled paper products. They are using the concept that it is 'small step' toward having a smaller carbon footprint. (I buy the bulk pack of t.p. at Staples. It comes out to be cheaper than the 'regular' type.)

~Don't take a bag for a small item or small amount of items.

~Look for organic cotton goods in such major retailers such as Walmart(t-shirts) and Target(sheets).

~Look out for bamboo clothing also! Silky smooth and made from a resource that has a fast renewal rate, bamboo fiber has been sneaking into more mainstream fashion.

~Buy that hybrid! Now that car manufacturers have been making hybrid for 10 or more years, the price of a used one has come down greatly. This used Prius can be bought for less than $6k. This used hybrid Civic is less than $8k!

~Or, splurge for that electronic car! The Tesla Roadster is only a little over $100k!

Once you have consumed, dispose properly.

~Pass on used but still wearable clothing to homeless shelters, thrift stores or the Red Cross.

~Post gently used furniture on freecycle or Craigslist. Or, donate to local shelters or community centers.

~Read up on your jurisdiction's accepted items for recycling. I know in Alexandria, they keep adding to the list of things they will take.

~Offer items to friends and family that might be able to use (but not old saran wrap)

~Get rid of your car totally. With ride share, public transportation and flexible borrowing programs, if you drive your car less than twice a week, chances are that you don't really need to own it. For example, Zipcar is a easy, affordable alternative to owning a vehicle.

See! I told you, EASY hippie earth friendly buying habits. NO leather tinted stew, with a side of watered down ketchup!

Happy happy earth day! ~Jen

Green Tip~ Don't beat yourself up!

Yes, with technology and eco commerce, it is easier than ever to have an eye on the environment in everyday life. But, it is just as easy to forget or be put in a position due to time, money and effort, not to.

First and foremost, I know I 'preach' a lot about what one could do or buy or go to or not do or not buy or no go to. All merely suggestions! I am not as 'good' as I could be, but also not as bad as I could be either. I figure that everyone does what they are comfortable with and just hope that means they are doing a little everyday.

If you want to do more, then just make some baby steps to begin with. Change what little you can, at the beginning. Do something small each day, it will become habit!

In the very near future, I will post a 'full disclosure' list of things I do that aren't environmentally friendly. It will make you feel better about yourself, really.

Here's a teaser~ When I go to 7-11 to get coffee, I don't bring a reusable mug. I just use a Styrofoam cup. :(

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