Happy Earth Day!
“The Blue Marble” photograph of Earth, taken during the Apollo 17 lunar mission in 1972.
For as long as I can remember I have been a water conserving, “you’re going to take that home, right?”, put it in the recycle bin kind of girl. I credit most of this to my hippie mother.
Since this is my first Earth Day with a blog, what better to post about than my own personal – tried and true, slightly nuts, mean green tips on being an Earth saving machine!
Always shut the water off when you brush your teeth. You heard them say it when you were five too. If you don’t do it, do it NOW. Think of poor California and her drought. It’s your fault. Shut the water off. Think of me tonight in your bathroom shaking my head and giving you a dirty look as I hear the water running. I’m pointing at YOU. Shut it off.
Shut the water off when you wash your face. Sploosh your face with water, shut it off, lather, turn water back on and rinse. Your face may have a smile on it now when you look at yourself in the mirror. That’s right – the person looking back at you is saving the Earth.
If you have to let your faucet drip during the winter so your pipes don’t freeze, collect it in a big jug or pasta pot, and then make pasta the next night for dinner. Poetic.
When your refrigerator ice machine revolts, pick up the ice cubes and put them in a plant to melt.
If you or a guest doesn’t finish their glass of water, pour it in a plant. As an added bonus your plant will think you love it because you finally remembered to water it! Ha ha, plants are dumb.
Only run your dishwasher when it’s full. I’m happy to come over and rearrange it in case your husband can’t load it either. Editor’s note: Sorry honey, love that you “do” the dishes, kiss kiss.
Only run your washing machine when it’s full. Pick a day and make that laundry day every week. It helps you schedule your week and as a plus you know if you wear a good shirt on Tuesday it won’t take it out of the rotation for too long.
Shut off lights. If you are not in the room shut the light off! I promise if and when you return to the room turning the light back on is as easy as flipping a switch. I set up cameras in your den. I can see you. I WILL come to your house, put a nickel jar on your table, and use that money to buy myself wine.
Open your blinds, guess what – free heat and light compliments of Mr. Sun! Just remember if you are suing Brenda Walsh for hitting you with a car, shut your blinds before doing calisthenics in your living room.
I’m a huge ceiling fan fan (wacka wacka). I was very excited when we initially toured our house and there was a fan in every bedroom! I prefer ceiling fans over air conditioners in the summer, especially with the windows open.
Run your dishwasher and washing machine at night. A year later I still do a happy dance at the idea that I own my own washing machine.
More a gas savings than energy – but I try to coordinate my errands with where I’m going so I’m not making ten trips to the same area.
Reducing Garbage and Using a Better Product with Better Results:
Keep oversized wash cloths (you know the ones you somehow have and that annoy you when you accidentally pull one out of your closet) in the kitchen to clean up quick spills. I use them to wipe down my son after he looks like the picture below and after lunch and dinner. They are 10x more durable then the best paper towel. Those annoying terry burp cloths you never used are perfect for this too.
Use stainless steel straws. I have a four pack and am never without one. I also think things taste better through stainless steel than plastic.
I was an avid tushy wipe user until I switched over to a bidet. Plus I can pretend I’m in Europe for 30 seconds every morning. Bon Jour.
Your dinner last night is your kid’s dinner tonight. It can be ready in 30 seconds and involves no.work.at.all. Teach them to like cold food. Suckers.
Reuse glass baby food jars. They make great storage jars for anything – from tofu to nails to beads to dried herbs to paint to black beans to rings to jello – to name a few. You can fill one with water and tie cellophane around it to make a pretty weight for balloons. My daughter used to eat finger food exclusively out of these jars while sitting in her stroller as we walked around the city. She didn’t drop a jar once – which still impresses me. They stack up great in the shelf, you can put them in the microwave (without the lid of course), and at the end of the day if they get gross and you don’t want to bring them home, just throw it in the recycling bin wherever you are!
Reuse Ziploc bags or use reusable bags like SnackTAXI. I remember Oprah once talking about this being one of the habits she couldn’t shake despite her billionaire status. I reuse the bag if something in it doesn’t have crumbs, I don’t go as far as washing the bags out. I miss Gayle.
Use reusable cups, plates, and bowls for meals outside. If they are made from recycled plastic you get extra points!
Keep tons of reusable shopping bags in your trunk so you always have them ready. If you can find one with a zipper you can shove all the others in it. As you know they mate at night and double in number in your house. Putting them in your trunk kills two birds. Plus some stores give you a credit or a raffle ticket for bringing in your own bags. I use the bags if I’m returning something, shopping – not just for groceries, if I need to carry a few things where I’m going – I am ALWAYS happy to have a bag in my car. Or 10. I keep one of the folded ones in my handbag.
Use coffee grinds in your garden. I tried this and the result was impressive. I keep them in a jar all week and spread them out on the weekend. Washed egg shells work too.
Open your windows. It’s easy, right? Open your friggin windows and get air in your house. Make sure your alarm is off first.
Go outside. Breathe fresh air. If you take 3 deep breathes of fresh air you will feel better. I offer this with a money back guarantee.
Let your kids run around outside. Kids like to run. We do not. But they do. Throw a ball. Play fetch with them. If they grow a tail call your doctor.
Do yard work. Not necessarily mowing your lawn – go pull out weeds, cut down branches that are bothering you with a lopper. It feels goooooood. Plus you can get a good action shot for Facebook.
Plant a garden, grow flowers, grow vegetables, grow anything. It is so much fun. You bond with the dirt. Even if you grow only one thing it will make you happy. It feels good to eat something homegrown or see a pretty flower come from a seed. Plus you can totally pull off overalls in you have a garden.
Keep a plant on your window sill. Watching it grow is super satisfying. Look at it when your kids are whining to relax. Enjoy it’s Borophyl.
Recycling as a Form of Art
AKA: What random crap can we use to create an art masterpiece?
Garbage X + Garbage Y + glue = hours of fun. If they are old enough throw in a hole puncher and some string. Hear those STEM people cheer.
Toilet or paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, cleaned out drinkable yogurt containers, bottle caps, the list can go on for pages.
As living green is a constant work in progress I’m always trying to find new things to do, new projects to make out of reusable garbage, and most important – teaching my kids not to waste.
What do you do?
I would love to hear your green ideas and habits, as silly as you think they may be! The best one will win a container of fresh air, a jar of sunlight, and possibly a milk gallon full of compost…
Originally posted on April 22nd, 2015.