Earth Day 2009 marks the one year anniversary of our family’s transition to sustainable living. For us, this meant more than simply taking advantage of our town’s recycling program; it is the one year mark of changing the entire way we live and how our family will impact the earth. Some of our changes were simple, some of our changes were massive, some were inexpensive, some have upped our budgets; all of our changes are innate now and that was always my goal.
Pictured below: Abby and Max after one year of green living.
When we decided to build our new house environmentally friendly and sustainable in April 2008, I realized that we there were things we weren’t doing that we could be doing. Our family has made a lot of changes this past year, and I decided that our Earth Day post 2009 could serve to review how we’ve gone green and to challenge others to review their lifestyles and see if there were more things they could be doing.
1. No more bottled water. Seems simple right? We had always recycled all our plastic bottles but I never thought about the waste stream we were creating. We all bought Kleen Kanteens or equivalent and have switched completely to tap water.
2. Switched to CFLs. Again, simple enough but I had a hard time justifying getting rid of light bulbs that worked to make the switch. Ultimately I couldn’t ignore the statistics that stated things like “a global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world’s electricity bill by nearly one-tenth”. We’re not global but in one year we’ve lowered our monthly kWh usage by an average of 180 kWh per month.
3. Organic eating. This is one place we have increased costs. I used to shop at our local Belmont but they just do not carry enough organic produce, so out of season I head to Whole Foods. On average I spend $100 more per grocery shopping trip (which is about 2 times per month) but I have the whole family on board on the importance of eating foods free of preservatives, hormones, pesticides, trans fats and processed sugars. I’ve changes family recipes, even creating some that are simply better than they were before. I think over time, these costs will level out, but this change was worth it.
4. Going local. From shopping at local farms to buying from local retail shops, I have dedicated myself to buying things from gifts to clothes within our community. I’m kind of lucky in that I live in a small state and nearly everything is local to me, but when it comes to this I really focus on shopping in Wakefield and Narragansett. It’s really not that hard and I’ve gotten to know so many of my neighbors!
5. Conserving water. We added aerators to all our faucets and I only run the dishwasher when full. I scrape, don’t rinse. We pee 3 times before we flush (TMI, sorry, but we still have 1.6 gpf toilets and can’t afford buying new ones). Jeans get worn three times before washing, pajamas get the same treatment. If we have water left in a glass or a pan, we use it to water the plants. Being green means not wasting blue!!!
6. No paper. No plastic. I always use my own bags. I don’t think about it, I always have one with me, no matter where I am from a local shop to the grocery store to the mall or the pharmacy, I always have them with me and even keep 2 EnviroSaks in my “World’s Greatest Mom” bag.
7. Less driving. In total, since April of last year, I have only driven 7211 miles in my car. My husband and I commute together 2 days per week as our schedules allow. I shop locally when I am at work and all the shops are within walking distance or at least within a mile of my office. When I do have a lot of places to go in one day, I drive in a sensible pattern to minimize the distance travelled. My two biggest offenses: my parents live 40 miles away (but on the way to Whole Foods!) and sometimes I have to drive for a business trip. I try not to drive needlessly and I think, do we need it before I get in a car. My gas bill is 68% less than the same period the year before, granted gas is cheaper, but I also drove almost 3000 less miles than the previous year!
8. Educating my children about how they can help the earth. My daughter loves to pick up trash. She reminds her brother to turn off the water. They both shut off the lights. She looks for the word organic on the food she picks and will turn down treats that have been proclaimed by me as junk. When she outgrows clothes, she lists who they can be given to and she makes the same suggestions for toys. For her birthday we agreed to a home-grown party with no presents but donations to help our local animal shelter. She is turning six and she gets it; she doesn’t feel like she’s giving anything up while living a greener, healthier life. She just lives and this will change our world.
9. I started a Green Blog. We have logged more than 18,000 readers to our website since our launch six months ago, we have shared our ideas, our views, and our knowledge with others and hopefully we have inspired them. Our green community is alive and it is growing and I hope it will continue to be a sustainable force.
10. Building a green home. This is the biggie; this blog, our website is dedicated to our journey through building a green home. It is what has made me undergo the changes we have and preach to anyone who will listen. We are still 4-5 months from project completion, but it has taught me so much about what we can all do to green our homes.
This year has really improved me and I am proud of the commitment that I have made to living sustainably. Making the decision to build a green home was all about my children, but it changed me in a way that makes me a better inhabitant of this planet. I try to remember I am just passing through; my footprint should be in the good I can do.
posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster
Filed under: Family, Green | Tagged: best green practices, earth day, Green kids, green living, green shopping, Greening your family, Narragansett LEED Home, RI LEED home, RI local food favorites, Saving Money, water conservation |