Baby steps

I was just watching an old episode of Oprah on Tivo and I am totally appalled. It is about families who waste stuff. Not just a little waste BIG HUGE GIANT ENORMOUS HUGE WASTE. As in, if it has been opened for more then three days they throw it away before grocery shopping again. They did this every week. Every single week they would bring in giant black garbage bags and clean out their cabinets. Half boxes of cereal GONE, half bottles of soda GONE, any left overs GONE, if their daughter had the father drive to the coffee shop and pick up a bagel, then changed her mind before he got home the bagel was GONE. No one would eat it, no one would just pack it in their lunch, it was just tossed in the trash. Their heater was held at 82, all the lights and tvs were on even if no one was watching. One kid alone used 7-8 water bottles a day. She had a closet with over 100 tank tops and about 50 of them had tags on them. Some of her clothes she didn't even remember buying or owning.

Oprah's solution was to make them go one tiny week with out some stuff. No cell phones, video games or computers (unless for homework), and only one hour of TV a day for the entire family, and only one TV on in the whole house. No shopping at all, and they had to eat what they had in their house. The heat could not go over 70. While I think it was a cool concept I really think they should have done it for a lot longer then a silly week.

While watching this one of the things that came to me, was the same reoccurring theme I've noticed lately. That theme being, you need to start early with kids rather then wait until they are fifteen, sixteen, seventeen or even eighteen to try and repair the damages caused. Meaning that waiting until your child is fifteen to say, sorry, no TV, phones, computers and so on IS A VERY BAD IDEA.

Now that I'm done watching the show I've thought of the small changes I've tried making lately. I've stopped using water bottles, I'm trying to ween myself off paper plates and bowls. I'm recycling my plastic utensils at work, and recycling all paper, plastic, glass and aluminum I can at home (this is new, I used to say recycling took too much effort), and trying to use less water. I never throw food away. I take it to work and give it to one of my guys, or take it to family I know will eat it, or send it to work with my husband and he gives it to all his friends. I hate throwing stuff away now. When I grocery shop I only buy exactly what we need so nothing ends up wasted. No longer do you open my fridge and see wilted lettuce or veggies, or rotten cheese. No more buying fruit for looks and then letting it mold, I eat it all up. I buy 5 apples. One for every work day and that is it.

The strange part is how much I enjoy this. I really enjoy doing good things. I enjoy using green household products (side note does anyone know a good green kid safe product that cleans pergo floors?), and I enjoy recycling. I like knowing I'm doing a little something to help my kids future.

However I want to do better. I want to turn off the lights, and TV's and computers. I want to take shorter showers. I want to recycle more, I want to be careful about what I put back into the earth. Mostly I want to do whatever I can to make it so my kids still have an earth (even if my mom just told me they will probably just get bombed and drafted and killed anyway (because that didn't help my anxiety any)). I'm trying to teach Brandon to turn off his lights and Tv when he isn't in his room. When cooking in the evening I open all the curtains and use natural light. I want to do better. This is hard!

What about you? What small things do you do to help the earth? What changes do you wish you could make? What great tips do you have? Any fun little advice? Also, does anyone know where I can buy envirosacs locally? They are mostly sold out online, and I'd rather not pay shipping, and then have to pollute the earth with the delivery trucks and what not when I can just grab them during a routine shopping trip.


Jeninacide said...

We recycle EVERYTHING. Every scrap of paper, all plastic, glass, etc. We are really lucky that we live in a place where we can easily recycle things like shampoo and lotion bottles, plastic containers that produce comes in, and plastic bags. I don't think all places have those things.

Over time we have also been replacing every single lightbulb in our house with energy saving bulbs- which helps on the power bill as well. We also shower about every other day...

Umm.. I think those are the main ones. We only have a tiny garbage can (half the size of the cans in Reno) and we never fill it up. Even with all the diapers we use. If I was a really good person I would use cloth diapers. But I'm not. So there!

Blogversary said...

Good job! The biggest difference for my place is when I plan my meals and buy only what I absolutely need. They cuts down on waste sooo much. I also make my own cleaning products and recently started making my own baby wipes.

I enjoy it too, because it when you start you realize it is not that hard and it is empowering.

Not So Perfect said...

A few things we do are:
-cloth towels
-cloth grocery bags
-compact flouresent lights
-bring your own cup to coffee places
-buy from bulk bins(less packaging and cheaper)
There are other things we do that I am sure I don't even think about because we have just always done them. We support A LOT of local businesses that carry locally produced products.

I have a confession though I love and am addicted to wet swifters I have tried to stop but I can't they are just way to easy to use and we have hard wood floors or wood laminate through out our down stairs. I really need to stop.

Mom said...

I want to use this post Shannon to let everyone that recycles know if you have to wash it out to recycle it just threw it way. I hate that people take dog food cans or soup cans and clean them out to recycle them.

We have more landfill then we do water.
It seem we waste water the most.

I recycle everything and have for every even at the office we do down to every little envelope, spoon, cup or jar.

I remember the days when we only had one TV in the house these days you will have mom in the kitchen watching TV while she cooks, the kids in there room with their computer and TV on and dad in his room playing video games. So this is also a good time to tell you all to go out side and enjoy some quality time with out using energy.

Lainey-Paney said...

I'm known as the "Recycling Nazi" around here. I will dive into the kitchen trash after a coke can. I don't care if it's covered in egg shells & coffee grounds.

Paper plates & plastic-ware are only used for parties where we have more guests than real dishes.

With the next baby: not so many disposable diapers. I'd like to do cloth, or those diapers that have a reduced decomposition time.

Lainey-Paney said...

oh, and after reading "America's Cheapest Family", we make an effort to eat leftovers or take them to lunch.

We turn off ceiling fans when we are not in the rooms.

We use low-energy light bulbs (we did that before reading the book...)

I use coupons like crazy & try to buy things with a combo sale price & a coupon.

I stock up on groceries that are freezable & on sale. We have a big freezer in the mud room....

So---this kind of went to a $$ saving comment rather than energy saving....but, both things are in mind with these recent changes around here.

Save money. Save energy. Saving energy saves you money...etc. You get it...

Nellie said...

I saw that same episode (I tivo Oprah every day!) too. It made me sick! SICK! I was so embarassed for that family. I couldn't believe all their waste.

We recycle everything we can.

We bought large plastic water bottles so we can refill them from the faucet at home or the fountain at work, rather than continue buying packs of 24 bottle that just get recycled.

We've changed our light bulbs to the energy efficient ones.

We wash our clothes only in cold water which preserves our propane.

I'm considering a compost. But haven't done enough research on them to know exactly how they work.

Hey, did you see the Oprah with Julia Roberts and her friend (who's name I can't remember)... it was all about going green.

Oh, and one other thing I want to do better with is grocery shopping... I want to start bringing my own bags instead of taking home 5 plastic/paper bags.

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