Thursday, July 24, 2008

How We've Gone Green

The Greene Family made like our name starting about a year ago, when we settled into our new home in Metro DC.  Here's what we done in the past twelve months:
  1. Parked our car.  Franklin takes the bus and/or metro to and from work.  I walk Freddie to and from his nursery school.  We also walk to the coffee shop, Target, bookstore, the local restaurant where we eat out on Friday nights, the movie theater, parks, the grocery store, drugstore, farmer's market and post office.  We do still drive for some things, including groceries, but we're averaging about 25 miles/week in our car - and far, far more on our feet.
  2. Cleaned up our act.  We've steadily been switching to greener cleaning products and microfiber cloths/rags to keep our house spic and span.  They work just as well as conventional products, and we feel much better about them.  We recently cleaned up one of Freddie's big ol' apple juice spills without reaching for a paper towel - and it didn't even cross my mind that we'd done so until after the mess was mopped.
  3. Became EnergyStars.  Because we were moving into a new house, we had the chance to choose our appliances - and there's an Energy Star label on every one of them.  We've also been slowly switching to green lightbulbs, but because we're careful about energy use in general, it's amazing how few bulbs we've burned through in a year.  Lastly, we installed ceiling fans throughout our home.  This means that even in the humid, sticky summer of Washington DC, we're keeping our air conditioning set at a toasty 80 degrees without actually feeling uncomfortable.
  4. Gave up fast food in favor of home cooking.  While we were inspired more by health concerns than environmental impact, it quickly became obvious that we were meeting two goals with this change.  It's also one of those funny snowball effect things - if you're in your car, it is so easy to pull through the drive-thru.  But if you're on the Metro, you have to ask yourself: is there anything between my stop and home?  Do I really want to carry a large pepperoni pizza/a dozen tacos/a sack of burgers and fries through the neighborhood?  We're skinnier, healthier and contributing far less garbage.  We now eat out once a week, at the local place down the street, plus special occasions - which actually feel special as a result.
  5. Recycled, recycled, recycled.  The cardboard boxes we used for moving all went to our town's cardboard receptacle in the local park.  We discovered that we could take any kind of cardboard there, including cereal boxes and paper towel tubes.  So we do.  We've also become vigilant about recycling our glass, plastics and paper and have figured out how to recycle small electronics and other things, like batteries.  (We take those to Ikea.)
  6. Switched to reusable cloth shopping bags, refillable coffee cups and reusable containers for our packed lunches.  They're the little things that add up.  What's interesting is that in some cases - especially the cloth shopping bags - the reusable versions are far superior to the disposable ones.
  7. Greened our paper monster.  While we're generally using less, thanks to rags and cleaning cloths, the paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and tissues that we use are almost all 100% recycled content.  It takes some doing, however, especially considering our not-driving stance.  We can only buy toilet paper locally, so we're constantly remembering to stock up on the other items during our trips farther afield.
There's more to do, we've no doubt.  But I'm content with our progress, and I love knowing that our choices are making a positive impact on our lives, and the world we're leaving for Freddie and Fiona.

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