Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Even though there won't be much hint of green around these parts for the next few months, I'm still trying to keep up with my newfound crunchy, tree-hugging, green habits. I've tried a bunch of new things this past year - liked some, not-so-fond of others... so as 2008 wraps itself up (eek!) in a blanket of gray and white... here's the update on my greens.

1. Growing veggies on my front porch - all the plants actually grew, and most actually grew fruit (or vegetables, whatever). The only things that actually got big enough/produced enough for us to eat were the green beans. I may try this again for next summer, or I may try to plant an actual little garden in the backyard. Depends on how ambitious I am come springtime... but it was fun to watch everything grow and know that I could grow some of our own food if I worked at it enough.

2. Reusable grocery bags - LOVE THEM. However, I do NOT love the cheapy silly bags that they sell for 99 cents at the grocery stores - mine are already wearing out. I need to find some quality shopping bags to take with me - but I love not bringing home oodles of plastic bags every time I go to the store. I just keep 'em in my car and grab them on the way into the store. Easy cheesy. All the old plastic bags I've got in the house get used as liners for the little trash cans in the bathrooms, so at least they get one more use before they get pitched.

3. Homemade house cleaners - The only one I really still use is the glass cleaner and I love it. It's just cornstarch, vinegar & water - and it cleans great and doesn't streak. What else could I want? (I had a tough time with the others - everything with baking soda in it required one go-over to clean it, and one more with just water to wipe up the baking soda that would remain on my counters... a little too much work for this mama). I am now using Dr. Bronner's and Mrs. Meyer's soaps for all other cleaning in the house (except toilets, which see a slightly stronger cleaner every now and then, just because I don't mind putting chemicals in there so much, and... well, ick!) I love the friendly smells, the lack of chemicals... and everything still winds up clean. (Plus, the bottles will last for-EV-er!)

4. Cloth diapers - Obviously, since I can't stop talking about the giveaway and all - I'm still using them, still loving them. This summer, I did a lot of air-drying on our back deck, and I loved not using the dryer so much. I've been drying them since it got cold/cloudy/wet here in Michigan, until I figured out a good place to set up my drying rack. Now I'm back to (or at least testing out) air drying Haze's diapers - and knowing that our energy use will come back down a bit (especially since the furnace runs all the time these days!)

5. CFL bulbs - I've switched most of the main lights in the house, and I love it. It takes a little bit to get used to the slightly different quality of light, but our energy bill dropped a few bucks within a month or so of using these. Good deal.

6. Recycling - I still SO wish that the recycling center was closer - because it is a PAIN to truck our stuff out there... but I have a good system going in the garage for sorting our recyclables and I love how much less trash we are putting on the curb every week. Makes me want to hang my head a little bit about all those years where I wasn't recycling. Shhh....

7. Replacing paper with cloth - I do almost all of my cleaning with old rags and dishtowels now - and again, enjoying NOT going through the paper towels like crazy (I do still have some paper towels in the kitchen, but that's the only spot in the house). I also just got myself some cloth napkins, and as soon as we use up the last of the paper ones in the house, we're switching over.

All in all - it takes surprisingly little effort (just a bit of focus) to make these changes... and I'm thrilled at what a difference they seem to make. I know it's just a little bit... but knowing that we're at least trying to keep our little corner of the world a bit cleaner makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside. Anyone else got any good tips for reusing and repurposing some stuff around the house?

2 thoughts:

Kaycee said...

Will you post the 'recipe' for the window cleaner? Or email it to me. :) I am super interested in it if it works! I have heard the same thing you said about the ones with Baking Soda so I have never tried those, but if it works and is green I am all for it! :) Thanks Katie!

Sarah Halter said...

Sounds great! The only thing I'd suggest is to go ahead and start using the cloth napkins and set the paper aside for when you really need them for something. That way you have a few on hand.