Today is Blog Action Day and it’s about the environment. Way back when (I was in elementary school and jr high) I was one of the few, a weird one who cared about the environment. I told others not to waste. I tried not to. I had a few projects which switched organizations from using a disposable plastic item to a reusable one. I won’t say that peer pressure totally scared me off, but I wasn’t as vocal about my concerns for quite a few years. Er, actually until today. I even have read several books about the environment and various aspects related to it recently and I’ve not said very much. (Warning this ended up quite long, and I didn’t say half of what I meant to!)
I’m sure others will write much more eloquent and timely posts than I am about to. I meant to draft this ages ago, when I first learned of this initiative, that never happened.
First, don’t think that by your doing a little bit or not doing a little bit it won’t make a difference. Trust me. I’ve seen it. I’m not saying we’ll fix all the problems by ourselves, but while it’s cliche, every little bit helps!
What am I doing now?
I try to reduce my consumption of the things I end up tossing out (and not recycling). I try to buy for quality, not quantity. I reuse paper as much as I can and then recycle it. I have a long way to go though… How do I do this? Below are a few examples:
First, I use handkerchiefs instead of tissues. This is partially because tissues gross me out when they get soggy and fall apart. I have a set of (more than seven) that I have been using for the past year and how many tissues would I have gone through? (Especially since my allergies have emerged).
I use my own bag when shopping whenever and wherever possible. Sometimes this gets me a 2¢ discount, not always. It’s much more comfortable for me, I’m short and a grocery sack will hit the ground easily when full of food. Plus it’s safer. I can carry the load in my backpack. Much better! This has, however, caused problems because we do reuse these bags for the garbage.
I try to bring my lunch. Not only is this healthier but it’s generally less to throw away.
I print 2-up and duplex whenever I can. If I can get away with 4-up and duplex I do, but my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be.
What can I do better?
I’m pretty sure that energy consumption in my apartment building is crazy. We don’t have a separate electric bill because it “is too difficult” (in my old building I had one!). I know that while we are careful with our energy use (even over shabbat), I doubt that many of our neighbors are as the cost is just rolled into the maintenance bill. I’m not sure exactly what I can do about it (we’ve complained) other than keep doing what we’re doing by watching our usage. I rarely keep lights on while there is natural sunlight. I need to do better about turning off the kitchen light if i’m not in there while I’m cooking (like right now).
I want to do better about the chemicals I use around the house and in/on me. I have a weakness in that I hate my hands and fingernails. I try to use nail polish whenever possible, even though it doesn’t last very long (buffing isn’t the answer because I want to change the colour). I found a nice colour on me (finally) but I know there’s lots of yuck in there that isn’t very good. Also, in The World Without Us I learned that many of the scrubby face soaps have plastic pellets instead of something natural in them. Those aren’t biodegradable and since they generally go down the sink, then end up in the oceans and worse. I use burt’s bees citrus face scrub and like it. I’m not saying it’s the best product out there but I like it. I’ve not had any adverse affects from the oats. So, to this end, I’ll be doing some research. If you have a product you like and you think would be useful for me for cleaning or my fingernails, please let me know. :)
I need to look into a better alternative to ziplock bags. I can wash and reuse them, but I’m not a huge fan of them in general. I need small collapsible containers. I love my lunch bento, but it’s big and heavy and I have to schlep it to at least two different locations each day, which could mean I’d loose it. Today I bought a small (1.5 qt) crock pot so I’ll be able to make my congee/juk/okayu, I’m just not yet sure how I’ll be transporting it if I don’t use the bento.
Sorry this is so long. I didn’t intend it to be that way… I hope someone finds it useful.