“Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It’s not enough to teach well. You have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally ‘ripe’ for learning.”
- Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Practically Green

I heard about Practically Green last week and I think it's a fun website!  When you first sign up you take a quiz about all the different green things you are doing and then they give you a rank:

I am "adventurously green"!

After you get your score they give you a bunch of recommendations about things you could do to live healthier and greener.  You can check off the things you've done and you can add things you want to do to your plan.  It makes it easy to see what you are doing that is good, and it gives you lots of ideas for new things. Right now on my plan I am going to start composting! :)  I'm really excited about it for some reason.  I have put it off for a long time because I don't have anywhere to do it in my yard, and the bins for vermicomposting are pretty expensive.  But I finally realized that it is very easy to make your own bin, so that's what I'm going to do and then I just need buy the right kind of worms.  I'm so excited to stop throwing out all our produce scraps!

Over the years I have slowly built up the amount of green things that I do.  I started four years ago by switching to reusable shopping bags.  I used the cheap dollar bags for a long time, but recently I splurged on a set of envirosax.  This is one of my cute bags:

They are more durable and way cuter than the plain black bags I was using for so long.  They are waterproof, washable, and very roomy to fit lots of stuff, but they roll up to a very small size when they aren't being used.  I am very tempted to buy another set because they are so cute, but I rarely need more than the five bags I have because they are so big!  They have a lot of really cute styles you can buy if you feel like splurging yourself. ;)

Some of the other green things I did after switching to reusable shopping bags was:
  • Making my own cleaners - all you need is borax, castile soap, baking soda and vinegar. 
  • We eat a plant based diet at home.
  • We bought an energy efficient washer and dryer.
  • We switched to paperless billing.
  • I made cloth napkins to use instead of paper.
  • I stopped buying paper towels and just use rags now.
  • I stopped dying my hair and let my natural color grow out.
  • Replaced the burned out light bulbs with CFL's, now that's all we have and they should last a long time.
  • I recycle our paper/newspaper/cardboard.  If we owned our house I would order a recycling bin, but that's not an option right now. 
  • I switched to glass food containers.
  • I've tried to replace the majority of the plastic in our kitchen.  Especially the kind with BPA.
  • We bought a set of stainless steel cookware to use instead of the toxic non-stick variety.
  • We started using bar soap rather than liquid soap in plastic containers.  I am thinking about trying a recipe to make your own foaming hand soap with castile soap, and that way you can reuse the same container.  The foaming soap seems to be easier for little kids, but my boys don't seem to mind the bar soap.
  • When my husbands car broke down we didn't get a new one for him, so we became a one car family.  Sometimes I still wish we had two cars, but for the most part it is better.
  • I try not to buy products with high fructose corn syrup.
  • We bought some house plants to help eliminate toxins in our home.  Only one of them survived, but we will try again. :)
  • We planted our first garden last year!
  • I use the local food co-op when it works with my schedule.
  • We didn't use any air conditioning last summer.  Partially because we were too lazy to hook up the a/c unit, but it did save a ton of energy and money!
  • I started cloth diapering.  Right now I do it part time, and I still use disposables when we are not at home, but I'd like to get into the habit of using them even when we are running errands, because it's really not that much more difficult.
  • I switched to a DivaCup for that time of the month.  It seems kind of weird at first, but it is way less messy and it's reusable and it's pretty much amazing.
  • I just got some reusable produce bags.
That's all I can think of right now.  I didn't do all of these things at once.  I've added one thing at a time over the last several years, and there is still so much more that I can do!  You will also notice that all of the things I do are also things that save me money!  For about a year I tried to buy mostly organic, but we honestly can't afford that right now.  I try to buy it when I can, especially produce on the dirty dozen list, and someday I hope to be able to buy more organic.

I know that there is so much waste, toxins and unhealthy things in the world that it seems like one person can't make much of a difference, but I truly believe that the actions of each individual can add up to make a big difference.  I am also glad that I can make life more enjoyable and healthy for my family.  :)

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