Posts filed under ‘conservation’
Or should I say, “State.” It’s a bad pun, either way.
I just wanted to point out the fact that New York State agencies will now be forgoing the purchase of bottled water (including water coolers!) and installing fountains in all of its offices. It’s part of a state-wide effort to pinch pennies and deal with our massive budget deficit, and it comes hand-in hand with a host of positive environmental consequences.
Yay for New York State, and yay for the New York Times for bringing us this news. (yay!)
It’s been over a month since I last wrote here, and I don’t really have an excuse. I think it’s because I keep coming up with blog topics that are kind of hard to research and/or comply with. Someone recently told me that it actually slows down your boiling water if you add salt to it first – I always have added salt in the beginning because I thought it sped up the process. Does anyone know what the truth is? I’m too lazy to look it up, but I would really like to know whether I’m wasting a ton of energy trying to heat up salty water all the time.
I’ve also been thinking about greening up my cat’s litter situation, but I’m totally hooked on Fresh Step (which is clay-based and not at all green, plus it costs about $10 a box). I’m not at all interested in potty-training my cats, (more…)
I’m always looking for ways to cut disposable products from my lifestyle. I don’t use paper towels or tissues, having replaced them with dish cloths and hankeys. I use cloth grocery bags and try my best to avoid buying foods and other products that come in lots of packaging that can’t be re-used or recycled. I’ve even swtiched from tampons to the keeper. The goal is to never throw anything out, unless it’s going into my compost or recycling bins.
But there is one thing I’m just too chicken to live without – namely, toilet paper.
I have heard of people who use water and wash cloths to clean up after using the toilet, but I don’t really feel like joining them at this point in my life. In college, when living abroad in West Africa, I learned how to wipe like the locals – with my left hand. It didn’t take long before I’d made a habit of carrying little packets of tissues with me at all times just in case I had to “go”. I simply can’t give up the satisfying feeling of a dry bottom.
So in lieu of giving up toilet paper all together, I’ve done the next best thing: buying Marcal toilet paper. I’m not big on brand loyalty, but Marcal toilet paper is my very favorite, because even though they just recently started packaging their TP in fancy “gree-looking” wrappers, they’ve only ever offered 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper. And it’s just as cheap as all the low-end paper products you’ll find in the cleaning aisle at the grocery store.
Brands like Scott and Kleenex usually don’t use recycled paper – and when they do, they charge extra and less than half of the paper comes from recycled sources. Recycled toilet paper may not be as soft as first-generation paper, but that’s a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? A much smaller price than, say, not wiping.
Look at these snazzy glasses I bought at Pier One. Or Ikea. They only cost $10 each. Can you believe it? What a deal.
Gotcha! I actually didn’t pay anything for these glasses, and they’re not even glasses at all – they’re jars. But I’m using them as glasses, because every time I buy glassware it ends up broken (thanks, Boyfriend), and it’s not worth buying new ones. Instead, we just look for peanut butter and jam and pickles and whatnot that come in glass jars, and when they’re empty we wash them out and use them for drinking. They’re free, durable, and sometimes even attractive. The big ones are good for water and the little ones work well when we’re treating ourselves to a cocktail or glass of wine.
So forget buying new glasses at the store. It’s a waste of time, money and resources. Next time you’re shopping for food, think about the container that it comes in and whether or not you can re-use it. Be cool like me and drink from jars!
Allow me to introduce you to my fabulously understated tea kettle. Boyfriend and I use this every day to boil water for his coffee and my tea, and after over three years of use and abuse, our poor, chickenesque kitchen implement developed a thick coating of greasy stuff that a normal dish washing could not penetrate. Many of us would merely toss out an old pot or kettle once it reaches this point of stuck-on greasiness, or else turn to some harsh grease-dissolving chemical cleanser or magically toxic eraser. Neither of these options is very green, but applying a little elbow grease to the problem is always an eco-friendly option, and it’s cheap too.
The key to cleaning up my nasty old kettle was the age-old practice of scrubbing. Using the scratchy-side of a normal dish sponge, plus a dollop of dish soap (I’m using this brand these days), I was able to rid my kettle of all that goo in about 15 to 20 minutes (I forgot to check the clock before I started). Pointer: don’t run the water while you’re cleaning like this (you shouldn’t run it when you’re doing dishes anyway). Water will wash away the soap and make it way harder than it should be, so just wet the sponge, add the soap, and keep the water turned off till you’re ready to rinse.
I won’t deny that my little exercise in scrubbery took a toll – I warmed up pretty fast and had to take off my sweater in order to avoid sweating – but overall it was pretty quick and painless. For the final bits of really tough stains I sprinkled about a teaspoon of baking powder on to give it a little extra abrasiveness, and pretty soon the whole thing was as shiny as the day I bought it (except for the chipped enamel and burnt plastic that I couldn’t change if I wanted to, and I wouldn’t change because they give the kettle character).
So if you’re considering trashing, replacing or chemically-treating your kitchen tools, think again! A little elbow grease can go a long way.
If you haven’t seen the ads for Shamwow, it means you probably haven’t been watching as much TV as I have over the past month. But it also means you should go to their website and be amazed. Watch the video of Vince (who’s an exceptional salesman and housekeeper) using this magnificent, German-made device. It soaks up wine and other spilled beverages in mere seconds, and even pulls liquid up through carpeting. Truly amazing.
But what’s even better is that the ad for Shamwow is telling people to stop using paper towels. Any advertisement that encourages Americans to use fewer disposable goods is a friend of mine (yes, I have friends who are actually commercials), and even though I don’t intend to buy the Shamwow, I am a huge fan (but if you’re reading this, Shamwow people, feel free to send me a free sample and I’ll give it a try). And if you don’t have a drawer in your kitchen that’s full of dish cloths, you might as well drop the $20 and try it out. It will save you bundles in paper towel costs.
The holidays. They’re over now (phew), but I’m still feeling the aftershocks. It’s time for a confession.
Christmas is about gifts, and this year I bought a lot of them, made a couple (too few), and received even more. There might be a recession on, and Americans might have experienced a leaner holiday this year, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the mountain of loot that I brought home on December 26th. It’s worth noting that a few of the consumer goods I received were fairly green – I got a compost bin, some gardening tools, and a gift certificate to buy vegetable seeds from Seeds of Change. I also wrapped the presents that I gave in the paper that I saved last year. But for the most part, this Christmas was a nauseating display of consumption and waste.
And there was also food. Too much of it. And lots of alcohol to wash it down. I ate until my stomach hurt on more than one occasion, and threw a New Years party which resulted in a morning-after recycling bag full of bottles and cans whose girth rivaled that of my 1995 volvo sedan. Even a couple of days ago I caught myself eating and drinking to the point of gluttony, excusing my behavior with the pathetic phrase, “it’s the holidays, right?” No, it wasn’t the holidays. It was January.
And it still is January, which means that I’ve still got an opportunity to repent for my holiday season sins (more…)