Saturday, June 12, 2010

Being Green

One of the reasons that I started researching cloth diapers is that I wanted to do something more ecologically friendly than disposable diapers.  After doing quite a bit of reading, I'm not sure if cloth diapers are truly that much more "green".  While I do use a natural detergent (I didn't always, I started out using Tide), I still use quite a bit of water when washing diapers.  Still, it can't be nearly as much water as is used to turn wood pulp into disposable diapers.  And at least they're not rotting in a landfill somewhere.  (That idea just plagues me, I have to admit).

At first I resisted the idea of being "green", because it seemed too overwhelming.  Then I realized that every little action helps.  Sure, doing all of it, and doing it all consistently, makes the greatest impact.  But shutting off the light switch just once helps.  Doing it twice helps even more.  Developing the habit helps even more than that.  What's the alternative - leave the light on all the time because it's too much effort to conserve energy?

So there are a number of things that I do in my household to try to "be green".  (There are an even greater number of things that I could/should be doing.  It's a process.)  Most of these are the easy ones that lots of people do, so I'm not really patting myself on the back for how innovative I am being.  These are just the things that have been easiest to incorporate into my life.

I recycle quite a bit - and I find myself looking at packaging differently when I buy things.  Most plastic packaging I'm finding can't be recycled in my area.  It's better for me to buy in glass since that can be recycled.

Reusable things - I use reusable grocery bags.  I use tote bags for just about everything.  Whenever I see cheap tote bags on sale I pick up a couple.  I have some plastic grocery bags, but I'm trying not to bring any more of those in my house.

I use reusable sandwich bags I got here.  Okay, I bought one, but I love it and will get more eventually.

Obviously we use reusable diapers, and are using reusable wipes more often now.

In addition to grocery tote bags, I use muslin vegetable bags.  If I forget them, or if the veggies are too big for the bag, I just skip the bag entirely.  It annoys some cashiers, but I think it's pointless to use a plastic bag for all of half-an-hour.

I use family cloth.  That's the term for adults in the house using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.  In the interest of TMI, I'll say this: I mostly use it for number One, and the paper for number Two.

I use mama cloth.  That's the term for cloth menstrual pads.  In the interest of TMI, I use disposable pads at nighttime on my heaviest nights, and the cloth pads for daytime on my lightest days.

I use kitchen cloth.  That's one term for using cloth to wipe up in the kitchen.  The other term is un-paper towels.  I have a ton of cheap washcloths that I use.  They wipe the baby's hands after she eats, they wipe spills on stove, counter, sink, table, floor.  I am even planning to start using cloth napkins soon.  (My dad is going to think I've gone loony,)

Yes, using cloth products can increase the amount of water you use in laundering.  But if you are already doing a load of kitchen towels, what's a few more washcloths?  If you're already washing diapers, what's a few more wipes and some pads?

I'm interested to know what others are doing to try to be "green" - please share with me in comments!


Genkicat said...

Well done!

You are certainly ahead of me. But I cloth diaper Rhian - and started because I wanted to be more green too. It killed me to put that much human waste in our landfill, it just does not belong there!

I recycle lots and buy lots of used things and hand-me-downs (for me and the baby). I'm also all for reusable grocery bags and have lots of them.

I was moving forward with the whole thing by trying for reusable wipes for the baby just the other day. But the solution I used gave her the worst rash ever! We are still dealing with that - so if you have a gentle solution I'd love to hear it.

Sara said...

I got a book called Organic Housekeeping (by Ellen Sandbeck, I think) that changed the way I look at cleaning. Our house is cleaner, safer and less toxic than it's ever been. We're saving tons of money on cleaning supplies and we're not contributing to the harmful manufacturing of chemicals. We buy organic food whenever possible (better for us AND the earth) and I'm researching cloth diapers for our little character coming this fall.

Sara said...

Oh, and all our light bulbs are those twisty fluorescent kind. As you said, we can always do more but even small things make a difference.

Laraf123 said...

I'm always looking for more ideas. I'm also always looking for ways to save time. Therefore our "greening process" is moving more slowly. I did stop using paper towels and plastic grocery bags. Also, I limit the plastic vegetable bags. You're right--it does annoy the cashiers!

Billy said...

Wow,you are so green!
I heard of someone who uses the menstrual awareness method by which she is so aware of when she is going to bleed, she always goes to the toilet when it comes..
I myself, as much as I would like to be green, don't do too much. I mean I recycle and am planning on using cloth diapers (though not because of environment, but happy it helps too),but I don't think I do much beyond.

MommieV said...

Genkicat - can I ask what you tried? The one that works the best for us is a teaspoon baby wash and a teaspoon olive oil in a cup of water. I'd use the baby wash you normally use for her bath, that way you know she's not sensitive to it. I've used Aveeno and the Johnson's lavendar bedtime one.

FruitFish said...

I want to say thank you for the spark your post has inspired in me! In this past week I have started family cloth and am looking into the mama cloth.
I was going to have to buy some tp this week, but instead bought some 3.00 12 pack of wash cloths and some cute ones off of etsy. Eventually I want them to all be cute ones, but so far what I've got is less than a package of the tp I normally get!
Thanks sooooo much for this post! It makes sense as someone who wants to cd (when she finally starts her family) though for me the thought had never crossed my mind!