July 20, 2008

green updates

I seem to have several green issues on my mind as well as some updates to share. I figured it might be good to put them all together in one big, newsy post.
This weekend we will be camping for the second time this year. We love camping here in Northern California. Except this trip will be a little different, as campfires are not permitted at the state park we're going to due to the high risk of wildfires. California has had its share of terrible fires lately and the risk is too high. Some wonder about the connection to Global Warming.
I want to be honest and admit that while I am trying to use the clothesline, I am not using it as much as I should. Now that we're back in our routines after our trip the laundry is piling up. Sometimes it isn't the best time to hang clothes outside (uh, nighttime). I have lots of room for improvement here. One of my kids also complained that his clothes that were dried outside weren't soft enough (he is very sensitive to textures and how things feel). I was hoping he wouldn't notice. Drat.
While I am very good at sorting our waste (tons of recycling and compost) I notice we still have a fair amount going into the trash. We have a 32 gallon trash can and it is about 3/4 full each week. That seems like a lot to me. I am very mindful about throwing things away, but I really need to take a better look at how we can reduce overall.
I am frantically trying to figure out how we can use less electricity as I am analyzing our usage. One tip that hasn't worked for us is keeping the water heater at a low temperature. Our heater is pretty new (about 6 years old) but we have to keep it on the highest setting to get hot water. Awful, I know. It's something about the way our house plumbing is. The water heater is down in the garage, 2 levels below the kitchen and also at least 20 feet farther west than the kitchen sink. Fact is, if I turn down the water heater even one notch we don't get hot water. This is something I need to look into for sure.
This week I had a green cleaning service come help clean my house. It was a big treat (expensive). They brought their own "safe" cleaners and did a good job. I felt that while they marketed their services as being green, it didn't really go beyond their product selection. For instance, they put all the trash and recycling and compost together in one bag. It was a one time thing, but eye opening. Green is a big word.
I do have some really great news (though it is probably old news). The moth spray I was so upset and concerned about was canceled last month. Looks like a political fiasco to me, but I am so glad that the cities around us won't be sprayed with pesticide. The effort to stop the spray is a wonderful example of how grassroots efforts and speaking up can really make a difference.
I finally finished Omnivore's Dilemma and am now almost done with the follow-up, In Defense of Food. The books are enlightening and substantiate my inclinations away from processed foods. Pollan also gives a good perspective on how what we eat effects the planet, etc. Next up will be Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, as recommended by Pauline.

Finally, here's something I plan to look into soon. I loved this post about dangers of playground sand on Enviromom, but almost wish I had never read it. Of course I'm glad to be informed, but in some ways I wish I could go on naively enjoying the sand. Sometimes it is overwhelming focusing on all the environmental problems and dangers. But I do believe it is better to know the facts and then decide if you are concerned or not rather than to blindly believe all is perfect.

That is the point of my blog, after all.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

I had the same problem when I hang dry clothes (even if it is inside) it is another step, but i use the dryer sheets from mrs Myers for a few minutes to soften the garments. I don't have to walk as far to do it like you would but would a green fabric softener in the wash do the same thing? ironing also works. HA!

remember that time said...

A tip for drying clothes w/o using the dryer... we have one of these. http://www.abundantearth.com/store/everestdryingrack.html
(and also clothesline in our basement but not everyone has the space for it.) As for softening up line hung clothes - have you tried a 1/4 c. of vinegar as your fabric softener? We started doing that when we were washing cloth diapers and not wanting to use scented, fat based products which stick to the diapers and make them harder to clean. Once we started using vinegar we never went back for any of our laundry!

Rachel said...

We use a vinegar rinse, and then also throw the clothes (especially jeans) in the dryer for just a couple of minutes after line-drying to soften them up. As an added bonus, it also removes the cat and dog hair that we seem to be perpetually covered in.

Love your blog!

Karuna said...

Hi Amy-
I've got another book for you. But perhaps you've read it: Fast Food Nation. Wow, talk about eye opening. Not that you eat fast food, but it's an interesting take on american culture/food in general. Also, Diet for a New America is another one of my veggie faves..... Thanks again for your informative blogging!!
~KarenC (avl)