Living a Greener Life

 

I’ve been trying to do my part in combating climate change. Individually, my greener-friendlier changes may not seem to make much of a difference, but collectively, they do. The more people adapt to a greener lifestyle, the bigger the overall effect, and mother Earth really needs our help.

By now most of us have probably seen images on social media showing dead whales washing ashore with tons of plastic in their bellies. There is so much plastic and waste in the oceans that marine mammals are mistaking them for food, and are dying because of it. These images are heartbreaking. Whether it’s whales dying of plastic consumption, or dolphins dying in fish netting, or sea turtles getting their heads caught in plastic pop can holders or choking on plastic straws, it is beyond time that everyone starts to do their part.

A goal of mine has been to eliminate as much waste as I can, and I thought I was doing a good job until a neighbor of mine was going on vacation a day before trash was to be put out and asked if he could put his trash in my bin. I told him he could, but in my head wondered if a family of three’s trash would fit into my bin, along with my own trash of a household of two.

I was stunned when he came over with one bag of trash…for the week…for three people! For a household of two, in one week, we usually put out four, sometimes five bags of trash. Everything that can be recycled, gets recycled, and yet it seems we still have too much garbage. When my neighbor gets back, I’m going to have to ask him his family’s secret.

Composting is something I’ve been considering. That should help reduce the amount of trash I accumulate, and maybe even make my grass greener. I’m rereading a book I bought about nine years ago, when my interest in green living began. It’s called green chicsaving the Earth in style by Christie Matheson. Even though there is nothing very “chic” about me, I was interested in the green aspect of the book and how very simple some of the changes were.

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So much energy can be saved by simply changing the lightbulbs we use to CFL’s, compact fluorescent lightbulbs. According to the book, switching to a CFL “in just one lamp that’s on for four hours a day will reduce your annual carbon emissions by around 150 pounds. “[E]lectricity…accounts for 39 percent of all carbon emissions.”

On top of changing the lightbulbs we use, I’ve also become a stickler for turning out the lights when no one is in the room. This is probably the easiest way to be green. Another easy way to be green is to cut your plastic water bottle use. I bought filters for my faucets and I refill a glass bottle from the tap. When on the go, I use a stainless steel reusable bottle that keeps the water nice and cold, even for hours in the sun.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve been turning off the faucet when I brush my teeth. It was in my fifth-grade science class. We were reading from out text book and there was a section on water conservation with an insert of a picture of a child brushing his teeth. It said to turn off the water while we brushed, and so I did and the habit has stuck with me for almost three decades. According to Matheson, “[t]he average faucet runs through three gallons of water per minute.” That’s a whole lot of water being wasted. Here is another easy way to be green – turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Individually it may not seem like much, but as a whole if everyone did this, the amount of water saved would be phenomenal. (Taking shorter showers would add even more water savings).

So here is a brief list from the book of some more easy green changes everyone can make in their daily life.

  1. Unplug chargers and appliances not being used. Plugged in charges still draw energy even when not being used.
  2. Wash your clothes in cold water. Hot water uses way too much energy and it’s not very green.
  3. Keep your thermostat one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer. These simple changes can hundreds of pounds of CO2 a year.
  4. Buy eco-friendly household products like detergent, hand soap, and dish soap.
  5. Eat less or no meat. It takes over 13,000 pounds of gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.

 

These are just some of the simple way a person can live a greener life. What are some of your favorite ways to live green?

 

 

 

 

Living Without Bottled Water

In my quest to decrease my carbon footprint as much as possible, at the start of this month I committed to not consume any bottled water.  I have a Pur filter connected to my faucet and use that as the source of all my water. It was very easy. When I was on-the -go I simply filled a reusable water bottle, and when I was home I drank from a glass– no plastic or Styrofoam cups.  Everything I used–dishes, cups, utensils–were reusable…..except when I went to a White Sox game.

This was the only time I failed in my quest. I wasn’t sure what to do because any drink I ordered would have been served in plastic, and I would have only ordered water since I rarely drink pop. I refuse to pay 5 or 6 dollars for an Aquafina (which has been confirmed to be just purified tap water, so buy a filter and purify your own tap water). Because of this ridiculous price, I regularly bring a small cooler of water bottles to games.

I brought a cooler when I went to the game and drank two bottles of water. It didn’t occur to me until later that I could have only drank one bottle and refilled it with water from the faucet. Ah well, next time. But two bottles of water for the month isn’t too bad. I know the month isn’t over, but I don’t intend for it to go any higher. It’s not the zero I had aimed for, but it’s a start.

My obsession with eliminating as much plastic from my daily life doesn’t stop at bottles, I also hate plastic bags and it infuriates me when I’m shopping and see carts pull away from checkouts filled with plastic bags. Reusable bags, people!

I was shopping at TJ Maxx a couple weeks ago and when I was called to the cashier I placed my reusable bag and items on the counter. I glanced up and saw the cashier looking for the price tag on my bag. I laughed and told him it was mine for bagging the items. He commented that he didn’t think it was one of the store’s items.

I was probably the only person that cashier rung up that day, or maybe even that week,  who brought her own bag, but I hope one day that changes. I hope using reusable bags becomes the norm. Every piece of plastic — cups, bottles, utensils, straws– that isn’t used is good for our environment and our oceans. Don’t think you can’t make a difference because you are one person. There are many others doing the same thing and together we can make a big change.

We have to.

Plastic is having such a disastrous effect on our oceans that the European Union is proposing a ban on plastics.

 

Of course, we won’t get anything like that here in the U.S because our leaders don’t believe in climate change, but they do believe in giving corporations free reign to dump their filthy wastes into our streams and pollute our land and air.

I was never the smartest student in any of my classes in all of my levels of education. I’m okay with that. We all do our best. But because it is so easy for me, not the sharpest tool in the shed, to grasp the dangers of climate change and the disastrous effects the heating of our greenhouse gasses is having on this planet–our only planet–I have to believe most of the global warming deniers understand this also, but choose to ignore the evidence because they are in some way profiting off exploiting our land.

Greed, especially corporate greed, is slowly destroying our planet and our lives.

 

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I do not own these pictures.

No More Bottled Water For Me

I started this blog four years ago with the intention to use it as a platform for my writing, yet I’m sure posts about animals outnumber posts about writing tenfold. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Nothing would satisfy me more than to be the reason someone saves an animals from a shelter as opposed to visiting a pet store or breeder.

Yes, there are reputable breeders out there, and in a perfect world I think shelters and reputable breeders would be the only places people would get dogs. But this isn’t a perfect world. It never was.  And people are greedy assholes and have no problem breeding dogs in horrendous conditions without proper care, all for the sake of profit.

It’s easier to over-breed a dog for 10 years, keep her in filthy conditions, make a ton of money off her, and then toss her in a shelter or shoot her and leave her in a ditch somewhere, (yes, this happens) than to get a real job and actually work for a living.

I know not all breeders are like this, but until we are no longer killing animals every year because there is no space for them in shelters, I’ll never understand why people would go to a breeder, or how a good person would ever think to add more dogs to an already over-populated world of canines and become a breeder.

You are part of the problem. As two of my favorite sayings go: “Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die” and “Every dog bred is a shelter dog dead.”

These are slogans I have seen at puppy mill and pet store protests I’ve been to, and they’ve really stuck with me.

Wait, I seem to have gone on about shelter dogs again. I do that a lot. But this post was not supposed to be about animals. I wanted to blog about something I decided to do while I was the shelter today, playing in a yard with one of the dogs named, Sevvy.  It was pretty warm out, and I had a bottle of water with me.

I sipped my water and it was ice cold, even though I had filled the bottle over an hour ago. The bottle was a reusable container, not plastic, and it was the kind that keeps the water at a cold temperature for over 12 hours. The cold water was so refreshing I had to ask myself why I even drink plastic bottled water.

Like many people I’m sure, plastic water bottles became a permanent fixture in my refrigerator, and I used to think nothing to grab a bottle, sit on my couch in front of my TV, and drink away. After doing this for many years and thinking there was nothing wrong with it because I recycle, I finally asked myself the simple question, “Why”?

Why do I need to drink bottled water? A while back, I decided I wouldn’t drink any bottled water while in my house. I had installed a simple water purifier system to my faucet and drank water the old fashioned way – with a cup.

I made the “no drinking bottled water” rule at home for me, while nagging everyone else in my home to do the same thing, yet never asked myself why I thought it was okay to grab a bottled water when I was on the go, especially since I have about a dozen reusable bottles in my house.

So, I was thinking today at the shelter, as I was drinking from my non-plastic reusable water bottle, that I will make a pledge to not use one single plastic water bottle for the entire month and since this is the first of the month, it’s a perfect time to start.

Again, I don’t use a lot of plastic water bottles to begin with, but I don’t see a reason I should use any at all.  I will drink from the faucet with my purifier and use reusable bottles when away from home.

Recycling is great and something we all should so, but reducing our waste is even better. It uses up a lot of energy to recycle, and it’s better for the environment to reduce first. So that will be my goal this month, to not just reduce my bottled water consumption but eliminate it.

My other goal is to finally finish that novel I’ve been working on for almost a year…right almost forgot about that.  Priorities.

 

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