Friday, September 30, 2011

Five Things Friday: (Pale) Green Edition

I ought to be a Granola. Or, I should say, I INTEND to be a Granola. My politics suit that way of thinking. My heart believes that way of thinking. But, I slip. Constantly. And find myself apologizing to Mother Nature as I pour the ant killer on my lawn (I mean SERIOUSLY, ants?? You have to form your colonies over every square INCH of the joint??). I glance to the Heaven's with a "what's a girl to do?" as I put down the delicious and so-much-better-for-my-family but so-much-out-of-my-budget organic, locally grown vegetables & fruits and opt for the less expensive version full of Lord-knows-what.

But there are a few habits (sheesh, I hope I can come up with five!) I have adopted that make me feel like I won't win the Worst Guest on This Planet Award. I hope you'll share some of your ideas, too, because goodness knows we could all stand to be a little gentler to our Home.

1. The laundry situation: The summer Elliott was one and Tommy was three I put up a clothes line. I emphasize the pronoun because I achieved this with with no great fanfare but with a ridiculous amount of self-pride. It involved lots of digging and cement, ya'll! I was feeling very fierce about it. Anyway, I (mostly) use it. It's not easy around here given that our weather is 75% snowy or rainy or freezing. In order to at least reduce the amount of energy our dryer uses, no matter the weather or time of year I always hang the shirts on hangers and let them air dry around the house. I have no idea how much fossil fuel or electricity (or money) this saves me, but I figure I'm reducing the dryer output  by about half.
If there's anything my blog audience has been screaming for, it's more photos of my bathroom....

Windowsill, don't think YOU can get out of the work. (Note the POURING rain outside).

I know it would taste SO much better to my kids if they were individually wrapped...!
2. The never never never never single serve containers situation. I just do not buy packaged foods that require an obnoxious amount of "throw away". (I wish I could say "I just don't buy packaged foods because we only consume whole/wholesome foods in our home"... but, like I said, I'm just not that Crunchy!) My kids BEG for individual applesauce packets or peaches or 100 Calorie Packs or even Juice Boxes. I just don't buy them. There's no reason to buy them this way when you can get a "normal" (or preferably bulk) size product and divvy the stuff up in Tupperware-esque containers or water bottles. Actually, my kids are getting better about not asking and when they do, I don't have to tell them. I ask THEM why Mom doesn't buy things like that and they know, "Because it's too much junk going in the landfill." So, maybe some day they'll rebel by going out late at night and stocking up on all the Mott's Applesauce Cups they can get their hands on. But, I can live with that.

Homemade bread. Re-used bags.
3. The bread situation. I don't really know how much it benefits the environment, but I make all my own bread. This is such a routine part of my life that I don't even blink on bread making days. (In the beginning, believe me, it was an EVENT around which the entire day revolved). But since I am home with daycare kiddos all week, getting bread made is pretty simple. I like to make my own bread because it is quite scrumptious and I know what ALLL of the ingredients are (white flour, wheat flour, honey, ground flax seeds, yeast, water, salt). I began reading labels on store bought bread and realized that they have to throw in a lot more "stuff" to keep it fresh. My family consumes enough "stuff" so I make my own. And now when I eat bread from a store, I gotta say, it kinda sucks. No offense, Mr. Strohman.

4. The plastic bag situation. So I make my own bread (we go through at least 3 loaves a week), but I do NOT make my own bagels or English muffins or hamburger rolls. When I buy those, I keep the plastic bags. That way, when I am done with a batch of bread, I just use the bags from the store-bought stuff to store the bread in the freezer. Saves me a TON of money on plastic wrap or aluminum foil and I can re-use the bags a gillion times before even I deem them too worn out for another round. In other "plastic bag news", we of course have reusable grocery bags that we use for normal shopping trips. I'm usually pretty good about remembering to grab them on a general day out and about for purchases at other stores, too. But, we...okay, I'll sell him out... my HUSBAND has a pretty good balance of forgetting to bring the bags often enough that we have a stock of plastic shopping bags. We use those for the bathroom garbage cans, wet or dirty daycare kiddo clothes that need to get shipped home or as a "car garbage" on long trips. I  know you all do this too... but it piggy backed with the bread bag thing so I included it.

5. The (impending) diaper situation. With Tommy & Elliott, there was no practical way for me to consider using cloth diapers. I was going to be heading back to work a couple of months after each of them was born and they just had to be disposable. With Baby Totally On Purpose, though, I'm sort of considering going with cloth. Nothing's in stone, of course, but it seems like I'll probably be at home with this little person for a while, so the daycare situation won't apply. I have done a bit of research (i.e. Google'd and YouTube'd it) and the hard work of it does seem pretty daunting. However, I think that with the habit in place, it will be like making bread: just another normal thing I do a few times a week. If  you have a post-diaper-pin kid and put them in the modern-day cloth diapers, I could really use your feedback on this! (No offense to Moms and Dads who were of the diaper pin era - I just imagine your experience would be different since the options and "ease of use" are better now than they were then). It's a real travesty when you think of all that CRAP (literally) going into the landfill. And the bizarre-o chemicals that go in those things to keep the baby feeling dry? What is THAT? Just seems like it cannot be good for the environment.

Whew! Look at that. I got to five! Now, please please please share some of the ways you try to give back to Nature in these days of consumption. I am always looking for ideas!


  1. On the diaper thing. Have cloth diapers really changed that much? I did find that my kids got diaper rash quite easily, because you have to put plastic pants over the diapers. When they did, I would boil the diapers to really kill the germs (you can't bleach them) and let the kids go without the plastic pants for a while.
    When I was doing this there were two kinds of diapers, thin ones that you folded to fit the child, and thick ones that were already folded and sew together. I found the thin ones worked much better - easier to clean, dried much much faster and could be folded in different ways to fit the baby. Later they became the best cleaning rags.

  2. And that reminds me of another green thing to do. Use rags instead of paper towels. We all have them (old cotton underwear t-shirts are great). They do a better job than paper towels, and you can just throw them in the wash with the rest of your clothes.

  3. I made cloth napkins we use for everyday -- they are super easy using fat quarters from the fabric store. I also second the using cloth rags vs. papertowels.

  4. Phoebe converted me to cloth napkins. I use "farmer hankies". Soft and gentle to the face, easy to wash and dry...and don't require ironing!

  5. you need to post your bread recipe!!! I want it! also cloth diapers are so easy these days. There is an amazing store in Ithaca called Jillian's drawers that has a really great website full of info.
    we went to disposable for a few reasons, the back to work/daycare issue (which I found out later that our daycare will use cloth diapers!) I was so stressed and frankly probably suffering from postpartum depression after Avi was born because I couldn't breastfeed that trying to also continue with cloth diapers seemed monumental and impossible at the time, by the time we were over that, my wimpy husband refused to use cloth....not easy when one parent won't do it, so I gave up.....and still feel super guilty about it!

  6. Can you post your bread recipe? I think I saw it someplace before, but didn't write it down.