Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Every little thing...

This post has been in "draft" waiting for me to think of things to add to the list. I've been pecking away at it just as this pileated woodpecker has been completely de-barking one of our pinetrees, eating all the beetles and larvae on it! He worked here tirelessly for weeks, but has now flown on. And alas! I have nothing more to add just now so will post and continue to seek inspiration for further change...

Cherrybean's Death to the Climate post has been mulling in my mind... Along with all the headline news about climate change and the wake-up call to the world to pull up our socks...

In the journals I keep for my children I keep a list of everything we do to try to save the world. I have a feeling they are going to be very angry in a few years that people of the generations before them didn't do enough to keep their planet clean. I want them to know that I'm keen and open to do as much as I can. But I'm always looking for what MORE I could be doing, and so I'm hoping that by sharing some of the things I'm doing, that I will manifest into my life (comments, people, comments!) ideas from others...

So here's the new things I've taken on in the last few months or so:
* inspired by Andrea, I no longer turn my dryer on. I found an old flower-drying rack that I'm using over the stairwell. I'm stunned by how quickly everything dries with our woodheat, and how easy this one change has been for me. I've always used my clothesline in the spring/summer/autumn, but didn't think I had much option in the winter. Surprise!
* this isn't entirely new, but if I don't have my to-go mug, I skip the drive-through. I've been doing this for a couple years now, but I would get a coffee for a friend without much thought. Now, if I don't have my guest-to-go-mug, my friend doesn't get coffee either.
* I refuse to buy anything packaged in styrofoam. I refuse to use styrofoam. At Christmas time we were served hot chocolate in styrofoam cups and that was the last time any styrofoam will go to the landfill because of me.
* I've replaced all of my non-stick cookware except cookie sheets (if you see stainless steel ones somewhere, will you give me a shout please?) and am trying not to buy anything with perfluorochemicals in or on it. This is NOT an easy change (good-bye most shampoos, take-out pizza (the boxes are coated) Gortex, Stainmaster (carpets, mattresses), microwave popcorn, Teflon, etc), but this is a chemical that will NEVER leave the earth (it has a half-life of tens of thousands of years), is found at alarmingly high rates in our bloodstreams and breastmilk, causes cancer and who knows what else, and is slowly killing everything from polarbears in the high arctic to butterflies in the Amazon. It's in my children's blood and there's nothing I can do about that. But I can try my darndest to try not to add to it... Skeptical? Google "perfluorochemicals" and see if you don't want to make some changes yourself.
* inspired by Linda, when I turn my oven on I'm ready to cook nearly everything for the week. Yesterday I made 2 loaves of bread (thanks for the recipe, Andrea!), 2 batches of cookies, roasted cauliflower and honey (!) soup, roasted the last spaghetti squash from our garden, roasted a chicken, and sweet potato fries, all in 3 hours. SO gratifying!
* inspired by Linda and many of my friends, I am trying to arrange everything I need to use our car for into one or two days out. This has been incredibly freeing, so far! We have lots of days of really free time, and our days 'in town' are full and productive. As soon as the ice is off the roads, I'm planning to start biking most places. You'll have to hold me to this one as this has been a goal for well over a year. oops!
* I'm trying really hard to use almost every single thing at least twice. Paper is easy, food packaging is more challenging (but all the more motivation to buy food sans packaging!). I buy everything I can in as big of a container as I can find, as these are so much easier to re-use. And I shop at a store that allows me to bring my own containers in and fill them from their bulk containers.
*Also inspired by Andrea (I should probably just have a whole post on what this incredible woman has inspired in my life...) I no longer buy any plastic bags or plastic wrap (and now hate to admit that I ever did. ugh!) I'm still using up some that I bought about 2 years ago, and trying to make them last as long as possible. Also, I find that I'm forced ? no, make that choose! to buy some things in plastic bags, and so I wash and store them for future use.
*We have commited as a family to plant 10 trees per year (here's a super easy way to do this! that only takes about 5 minutes!). Annika came up with this number as one tree for everyone in her 'family', which includes us 4, our dog, our cat, Gma & Gpa, and our 2 Foster Plan children. I love seeing the little wire cages up around our land, protecting these little promises of hope...
*This one will have loads of controversy (or skepticism, or laughter?! ha!) for those who know me and loathe my packrat ways, but I really think there is virtue in keeping for re-use rather than tossing. How many times have you gone to give someone a gift only to bemoan the fact that you just got rid of something they would've loved not two months ago? And all those little wires and hooks and bits of paper that you're dumping in the trash? They are SO handy at the right moment. It's all about organization and I'm always looking for ideas on that one... Loving Martha's book on this very subject just now. It irks me just a bit that people get so excited about their recycling habits, when that truly is not the answer. Oh, I don't mean we shouldn't recycle. We should be recycling absolutely everything we possibly can. But if the guilt of consumerism is eased by recycling, then we've clearly missed the entire point. We must consume LESS (reduce), reuse more. And then what we absolutely can't re-use in ANY other way, we recycle.
*All of my appliances have an Energy Star rating except my ancient washer and dryer. I know nobody else would want to inherit my washer so near to the end of its life, so I will keep it going until it gives up the ghost and then hope I can recycle some of its parts? and replace it with a super-efficient frontload. And maybe I won't bother replacing the dryer? When do you really NEED a dryer?
* I've switched to using a DivaCup along with Lunapads. I'm so impressed with how easy this change was, as well. I do have a box of unbleached, fully biodegradable cotton pads in my cupboard for travel or what-have-you, but so far I've rarely had to resort to using them. I'm much more comfortable with rinsing out my lunapads than I am with putting anything bloody into my compost! Yuck, right? But really, after using cloth diapers and feeling good about that choice, I decided that having filled a landfill site or two with my 25 years of pads was enough.

* I'm hoping to expand the growing of our own food every year. Our small garden plots last year produced an amazing amount of food to eat, can, freeze, pickle, jam and store, and I'm hoping to expand those plots by at least half again this year. Our chickens keep us in plenty of eggs and I'm thinking of raising some fryer hens as well, this year. I have to admit, I'd LOVE a jersey milkcow like the one I grew up with (and yes, J, her name was Annabelle!). Think of the cheese I could make and the fresh yogurt and butter and how lovely and large we'd all get. Ha! My A doesn't do well with dairy, but I think raw milk would be a different story. What do you think?

* I'm always hunting for more ways to buy from local producers. If you live around here, did you know that Anita sells local honey and coffee in addition to the huge service she does for those of us who get in on the Rancho Vignola orders each Autumn? What else am I missing out on?

* I'm trying to make as much of our food as I can -- bread, crackers, soup stock, jams, jellies, pickles, etc.

Okay, so those are the major new things I've implemented.

But there's one big smear on my conscience. Santa brought us a hot tub. I love the warmth and comfort of it but I just can't get past the monstrosity of unrecyclable, uncompostable plastic that it is... not to mention the toxicity of the chemicals and the energy that goes into keeping the water hot... My husband has always wanted one and this was clearly something that was really important to him. He works hard and it took him an entire month away from us to pay for this beast (this is one of his rationales for deserving it, and one of my reasons for not wanting it). We've gone round and round on this one and I'm attempting to surrender to the fact that it is here to stay and looking for ways to open my heart and enjoy it with my well-meaning husband... I have a hard time with the chemicals, for sure, but if it were a big hole in the ground lined with stones, and still took the same amount of chemicals and electricity to heat, I'd feel better about it. But it's NOT, and so it is what it is.

Anyway, hot-tub aside, I'm hoping to be able to add to this list every month. I would love to replace my beloved car with a hybrid, but I'm not convinced there's an all-wheel-drive-hybrid (and barring moving, I need all-wheel-drive) out there that's truly a better choice. Care to disagree? I'd love to hear what you have to say.
About anything... xo


Lisas healthy solutions said...

i think it is fantastic that you are so conscientious.
you mentioned that you have given up using plastic wrap...plese tell me what you use now instead?
i hope you will read my blog and post some comments.

Andrea said...

Wow! So inspiring! I think I'm going to print it out... and where do they let you take in your own containers? Simply Delicious?

Heather said...

Hello Mary-Sue

What a great blog! It sounds like your family is doing a lot to help take care of the earth. Wonderful! My plan for this summer is for my family to build either a solar food dehydrator or a solar oven. Maybe that is something that would interest your family as well. Here is a link to a solar oven that an extremely earth-friendly family has made.


Marce said...

Keep the Hottub. Learn to love the hottub. Love your husband in the hottub. Maybe compromise and unplug the energy guzzler for part of the year? Negotiate. At the end of your life, the positive you have made will far outweigh the negative effects of this plastic monster. I like the rocks in the ground idea. Maybe you could bury it?? It would be like free insulation.
Seriously though, kindness to the earth can NEVER come before kindness to our loved ones. If this is important to him, suck it up, compost your head off tomorrow. But tonight, strip, dance a bit, and jump into those bubbles with your hottie hubby.