In my last post, I said one person can make a difference. Then I got to thinking about what we do here and how we might step things up ...
We compost, and use the results in the garden. Find out if the new "organics" bin from the city will take animal waste or used guinea pig wood shavings? What about used tissues, cotton balls, and paper towels?
We try to shop for items in minimal and recyclable packaging. Find out if the stores will let us bring our own bags/containers for produce and bulk bin items?
I always have a bag with me for any deposit cans or bottles I find on my walks. Take another bag and pick up litter and recyclables?
I always turn off the coffeemaker as soon as the coffee is made, and nuke a cup of coffee when I want one. Check Freecycle and/or thrift stores for a ten-cup thermos jug?
All of the electronics are plugged into power bars for easy shutoff, and I always unplug the phone/battery chargers as soon as the phone or battery is charged. Unplug the toaster and coffeemaker when they're not in use? Can't unplug the microwave unless I move the fridge, and there's nowhere else for it to go ...
I wash full loads of laundry in cold water with minimal eco-friendly detergent, and hang everything to dry (outdoor line in good weather, indoor line and rack in the basement in bad weather). Not sure if there's any way to improve this, since we wear everything except socks and knickers (mine) and shorts (his) more than once, use the same towels for at least a week, and don't change the sheets every week.
I use rags for cleaning and wiping up spills. Try to wean Big Guy off paper towels? Might work, might not.
I walk everywhere that's a half-hour walk away or less, and take public transit almost everywhere else. I'd like to walk more but my bad knees won't stand for it, even with my cane. Can I do the monthly Costco trip on transit? Tricky, since Big Guy absolutely will not use public transit, and it would take both of my "bag lady" carts to get the shopping home. Maybe smaller trips every two weeks instead?
Before a shopping/errands trip in the car, we make a list, collect the relevant coupons and marked sale flyers, make sure our bags are in the trunk, and plan the most efficient route to get everything done in one trip. Could more of these errands be done on foot or on public transit? How much gas does this trip take, compared to how much I'd spend on transit fares? How much longer would it take on transit? On foot? How many errands and how much shopping can I manage by myself on foot or on transit?
I have a long list in my notebook of (non-food) items not to buy, either because we have plenty already or I don't want to use that particular item any more. How many things can I add to that list? How many things can I phase out and not replace once they've been used up?
I already get most of my fabrics and yarn, and all of my clothes except for knickers, bras, socks, and footwear, at thrift stores, yard sales, and Freecycle. Don't get any more until I've used up what I have, no matter how good a deal it is or how pretty it is?
We have rain barrels, we have a brick in the toilet tank, I save the rinse water from the dishes for the planters, and in the summer I put the drain hose from the washer out the window on the rinse cycle to water the trees and shrubs on that side of the house, and we never water the lawn. We also had the (free) city water meter installed so we only pay for what we actually use (a bit more than a third of the flat rate for unmetered houses). Can I redo the flowerbeds with local native plants that need less water? What can I use for mulch? (It's been suggested that we use the shavings out of the guinea pig cage, but we already have big problems with wood lice aka sowbugs eating the plant roots. That's why we can't grow potatoes, carrots, or radishes.) Can we set up some kind of drip irrigation for the fruit trees and the veggie planters, so less evaporates and we water less often?
Questions? Answers? Suggestions?