Monday, September 22, 2008

A Little Greener

Lately I've been more focused on the environment. I'm far from being a tree hugger and I'm certainly not an activist (although there is nothing wrong with either), but I'm concerned and trying to be more responsible.

Raised in a farming family, I've always been conscious of the earth; especially the soil and the water. Small family farmers generally have a very logical approach- if you contaminate soil, crops won't grow; if you contaminate the water, animals die. The use of pesticides and/or fertilizers are carefully considered; what will have the best results with the least negative impact.

Being from Iowa (a 5-cent deposit state) I have always recycled my aluminum cans. When my husband and I moved to Kansas, we discovered that our city had recycle service. As we already saved our cans (to bring in to our local metals recycling facility, where I am the office manager) it took very little effort to set-up a second bin for plastic and glass. Paper and cardboard went into the largest cardboard box we had available and it's been no problem to keep it going throughout the years. Our children have no problem with it (sometimes our three year-old gets confused, but big sister helps him out). They are going to grow up to recycle because it is just going to be habit. I actually feel taken aback when I visit someone's house and see aluminum and plastics in their trash; I want to lecture them. I don't even see recycling as "green", it's just responsible and it saves the community money*; it makes sense.

Almost out of the blue, a number of things have STOPPED making sense to me.
1. I got frustrated with disposable diapers. They cause so much waste, are so expensive and contain stuff that I really don't want next to my baby's skin: wood pulp and chemicals. Remembering the cloth diapers and rubber pants my mom used on my three half-sisters at home, I really didn't think I had an alternative.
2. Every time I go to the grocery store, I cringe when I realize I'm going to have to choose between paper and plastic. I really don't care to use either. Plastic is less inclined to tear, but I always feel slightly sick when I look at the empty bags and wonder how long it will take for them to break down.

Somewhere along the line, I had an epiphany; if something makes me feel guilty or ashamed, don't do it because it's not the right choice for me.

So following that line of thinking I:
1. started using cloth diapers at home. The new options are a lot cooler than you would imagine. They are so not my mom's cloth diapers!
2. am in the process of making a few market bags. It will give me a fun way to show off my creative sewing abilities and ease my conscience in the check-out lane.

I'm still not an environmentalist, but I believe I'm just a little greener than I used to be.

What about you? Are you green? Are there any small changes you could make? Are there changes you have made that you would like to share? Weigh in, people!

* The city is charged the landfill's tipping fee for all of the refuse brought to the landfill. Recycles are brought in separate loads, the tipping is free. Prisoners from the area correctional facility sort out the material for recycling and the solid waste facility is able to sell the material to processors. This not only keeps many tons of trash out of our landfill, it also helps to keep the city's trash fees lower as less refuse=lower utility costs.

1 comment:

Elisha said...

You know my stance on cloth diapers. :)

I also LOVE using reusable grocery bags. I have a few that I've made and a few that I've collected from random places (stores giving them out, the Earth Day 5K gave some out, etc.), and I always feel so much better when I use them as opposed to paper or plastic. After I unload them, I immediately put them back in my car so they're ready for my next impromptu stop at the grocery store.

Of course, I'm one of the people who reuses even the normal paper and plastic bags.

I'm also glad to see that reusable bags are becoming much more trendy and accessible these days. I see them for sale at every grocery store, and more people are carrying them.