Ok, I’m jumping on the bandwagon to talk about Earth Day. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the day and forget that we can be doing something everyday!! Don't get me wrong this isn't a political agenda or because I feel the need to save the planet!! This is me being a good steward of the gifts that God's given. Learning not to be wasteful and enjoy the beauty in God's creation!! I believe we should be aware of these things everyday. We need to be responsible and respect this incredible gift that God has given to us. I just wanted to share a few things that we do and maybe add some challenges and tips on how you can begin to take care of what has been entrusted to us and to our children.
First of all, we recycle like crazy people. My feeling is, even if I don’t know if it’s recyclable I toss it in anyway...just in case. However, our city has some strict rules about what can be put in our recycling bins. Here are the things you should be putting into those bins, for sure, here in San Diego:
-glass bottles and jars
-empty Aerosol cans
-plastic bottles and jars
-aluminum foil and foil trays
-bagged shredded paper
-paper or frozen food boxes
-mail, magazines, & catalogs
Here are the things that should not go in these bins:
-clothing, textiles, or shoes (take these items to your local goodwill or other charitable location so they can be reused)
-grocery bags (but, check with your local grocery store, they will most likely have a place to recycle those plastic bags)
-round plastic tubs (butter, sour cream, etc.)
-batteries (but, these can be recycled. Our school has a place to drop off batteries to recycle them. I believe they make money from it, so check with your local schools)
-plastic cups & utensils
-toxic product containers (like oil, etc)
For more information on recycling in your area, you can google it. And for San Diego, go to: www.sdrecyclingworks.com
We also grow our own produce, for most of the year. It takes some work and a little patience, but it yields some great results. We had the best tomatoes last year, I think I’ve ever eaten!! Not only will this save you money on produce, but it’s also great for the environment. And I encourage you to try organic gardening. It’s much better for your health and the environment. This year we are planting tomatoes, 3 varieties of string beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, squash, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, tarragon, and a bunch more. This is just the ones we're adding this year. We've had a bunch of herbs that I use about 3-4 times a week...Yummy!! I can’t wait to taste the “fruits” of our labor again this year!!!
Composting!!! If you have a garden or yard, compost!! Here are some items that can go in your compost pile: egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit & veggies that have not been cooked, grass clippings, leaves that fall off trees and plants. Google composting and find out all about how to do this simple, efficient action. And you can get a composting container at any hardware store. There is even a small little indoor composter for those in smaller homes or apartments. You can grow produce and herbs in small pots as well. Our mint is actually in a pot on the deck.
We have put a bucket in our shower to use for the garden & yard. This is a REALLY easy way to save on water usage!! We just have a 5 gallon bucket at the end of the shower and it collects the excess water that is used when we are waiting for the water to get warm. As soon as it’s full we take it down to the yard. This is a great thing, especially when living in San Diego.
Another really easy thing is getting more efficient light bulbs. I just learned today that LED lights are the BEST!! It costs like 38 cents to run them for a year. CRAZY huh??? They are a little more pricey, initially. But, in the long run they are more cost effective. Not only does it reduce on environmental effects, it also saves you money!!! Also turn the lights off when you aren’t in a room!!
Turn your thermostat down 2 degrees. This saves money too!!! Grab an extra blanket if you can’t stand the cold :) If you live in a place that requires you to use the heater or AC, make sure your insulation is well done and weather stripping is a must!!!
Try eating more foods that don’t have packaging. These foods are better for you anyway!! Shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store. Foods that have lots of chemicals and additives or preservatives, usually have lots of packaging as well. Also, shop at stores that have some bulk items. For instance, here in San Diego we have a store called Henry’s. They have bulk items like flour, nuts, rice, granola, and sugar. They do have plastic bags for these items, but it is less packaging than when bought in the traditional way. But, you can also use your own bags for this or reuse the plastic ones you get from the store and recycle them when they fall apart.
Use less paper napkins, paper plates, etc. by using cloth napkins and regular plates. Also, one thing that I have a really hard time with is using less wipes. I love kitchen wipes, cleaning wipes, and baby wipes for cleaning up around the house. I have now discovered micro-fiber and have cut way down on my paper towel/wipe habit!! A great company is Norwex!! They have some awesome micro-fiber and “green” products!! Norwex I also make washcloths, scrubbies & sponges...and I LOVE them!! You can check them out here: Sweet Willo May's
Make your own safe and green cleaning products. Vinegar is often used for surface and glass cleaning. Lemon juice is another one that works well and smells good. Click on this link for a great cleaning recipe. And this link is a good one too. I only use vinegar and baking soda in my kitchen and bathrooms. It's clean everything great and doesn't harm me or my family!!!
Do you drink coffee or tea? You can save a lot on disposable cups by bringing your own travel mug to your local coffee place. Some places will even give you a discount for bringing your own mug. And if you have coffee at work, you can bring your own mug there too!!! Also, if you use those paper covers that go on your disposable cups to keep from burning yourself, you can purchase or make your own. I happen to make them if you are interested. Click Here to check them out!
This one may sound a little silly, but every little bit helps. When getting your next ice cream...get a cone instead of a cup. I got this one on Oprah’s website :) Funny, but wise!! Or if you live by me...Cup of Yo in Point Loma is giving reusable cups away, today only, in honor of Earth Day and their Grand Opening!! Go check them out!!! Cup of Yo And I'm sure you can purchase one from them if you can't make it today!!
Go to this website to stop junk mail. I didn’t even know this existed until today!! How exciting...no more junk mail!! www.dmachoice.org/mps
Don’t forget to get the lint out of the lint catcher in your dryer. Believe it or not, this helps to keep your dryer running more efficiently!!! Make sure to clean it out after even load!!
Shorten that shower for 2 minutes and save 10 gallons of water!!!
Buy yourself your own personal reusable water bottle. We all know the importance of drinking water. But, just think about how much trash we generate with disposable water bottles. You can recycle them, but recycling does use energy. So, the best way to have your water is in a reusable bottle. You can purchase a small water filtration pitcher at almost any local store, use a water service, or purchase your own 5 gallon jugs and fill them at your local water filling stations. For you Point Loma folks looking for a filling station, there is one at Henry’s on Rosecrans and one at Big Lots on Rosecrans. They also have really pretty metal water bottles at Michaels...only $5.
One last tip, if you pack your child’s lunch everyday or even your own, instead of using baggies, use reusable containers. There are also baggy-like products out there that are reusable. Here is a link to one such product: www.to-goware.com Use this coupon code to get 20% off of your to-goware.com purchase: TOGO20 I also make lunch bags out of upcycled plastic bags..check those out: Here
There are probably 100 more ways to be green and conserve, but this is my little list and some easy ways to start if you haven’t already. If you feel overwhelmed by how many things there are to do, don’t fret. This could be a full time job. Even if you just choose one today, you are making a difference. Let Earth Day be the day you change ONE thing! Don’t let this daunting list scare you into doing nothing. Pick what works for you and your family. It sounds trite, but every little bit DOES help!!! If everyone made just one change today, we would seriously impact our precious Earth for the better!!! Remember to cherish and respect the gift that God has given to us!!!
Happy God Created the Earth Day!!!