Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trying to be More Aware

In the last 6-8 months or so, Steve and I have started to take steps to become more aware of some of the things we do and how they impact ourselves and the environment. Now, I'll preface this by saying that by NO means are we at the pinnacle of awareness nor are we 100% where we feel we could or want to be with our own individual contributions to this. But there are some steps that we've taken and even if they are baby ones they're still steps.

I'm trying to be more aware and diligent about the small things we do that can impact the larger picture. We're both trying to be more aware of the small things you can do around the house - like... turning the lights off when you're leaving a room. Like (and this is one I'm bad at) not letting the water run while you're brushing your teeth. Another thing that we can all do is re-evaluate how we travel places. If you're going somewhere that's within a mile or two of your home, walking not only benefits your own health (and wallet) but it also benefits the environment by reducing the amount of gasoline you're using. If you don't feel like walking, bicycling offers the same benefits.

A big way that most people help out the environment is through recycling. We don't currently recycle because there's not a good place for us to store our recyclables, but with the spring cleaning we're doing I'm hoping we can alleviate that problem for at least our cans (there's no curbside pick-up where we live). When we (eventually) get into a house, I'm going to make us more diligent about cleaning and sorting all of our recyclables. I also got a tip from my friend Kimberly to save yarn clippings from projects and reuse them as stuffing in future projects. I already use them as yarn markers, but I hadn't thought about as stuffing and had been throwing them away. Then there are those good old plastic shopping bags. A while ago I bought us some reusable shopping bags (and they also supported breast cancer with my purchase!) and we've been using those when we go to the grocery store as often as possible.

I'm also becoming more interested in companies that make efforts in their own manufacturing to be more proactive in the environmental impact of their products. I was recently eating a container of Stonyfield Farm yogurt and saw that they're holding a campaign where you can go on their website and vote for the next yogurt flavor (I'm a Demogurt, I voted for fat free Caramel Apple). While there I noticed that they have a bunch of other campaigns and projects that they work on to protect the environment. There was a whole section that talked about how they went into the selection of the packaging materials they use because environmental impact is huge for them. In fact, if you eat Stonyfield yogurts, they even offer 2 ways to reduce the impact to the environment; you can buy their yogurt in the larger containers (saves something like 11,000 gallons of oil/year I think?) and you can also save/mail in your cleaned and used yogurt containers and they'll recycle them for you. I also found out from looking at their website that there's a whole company that makes toothbrushes and razors out of recycled plastics.

There are also whole groups and forums out there dedicated to finding ways to reuse things. For example, Craftster has a whole forum dedicated to helping fellow crafters find ways to reuse unwanted junk and make in into something useful. One of the most remarkable things I've seen is this resin bottle-cap table made from over 2,000 beer bottle-caps. Seeing these things makes me think of some of the stuff I've thrown away - even recently - due to a lack of storage space and wonder if someone could have made something with it. I also have friends who make things out of what most people would consider trash. On the occasions we do get plastic bags, we either reuse them as small trash-can bags or we give them to our friend Jill who makes "plarn" (plastic yarn) out of them and crochets them into purses/bags. I have another friend Marie who is collecting cardboard juice and milk containers to make blocks for her son. All it takes for these things is a little bit of creativity.

What do you currently do or what ideas do you have for things we can do to reduce waste/help the environment? I'm always looking for thoughts!

1 comment:

Kat said...

That post just spoke to me. We too have decided to do what we can. We're not too rigid about it but if everybody contributes then we can make a huge impact.

We switch off all electronic devices and never leave anything on stand-by nor do we leave the lights on when not in the room or the heating or water running without purpose.

Amen to that and I hope more people will follow suit.