This time last year, my husband and I were packing up and driving from Ohio to Maine. What a trek that was! I still can't believe that in a few days it we'll have lived here for one year. Yes, I'm still glad we made the move, though a little down trodden that we jumped right into working and took no time for play. But, alas! There is cause for celebration.
About a year and a half ago I became very intrigued by "being green." I had never heard the phrase and I knew little about being environmentally friendly. With the help of It's Easy Being Green I became instantly obsessed with absorbing as much information as I could. I feel that I have grown so much since I started learning more about the environment, and living in Portland has only helped me out.
There are a few things that I do regularly now and so much more that I plan on doing that I get giddy thinking about it. Maybe you'll catch my enthusiasm and try some of the things I've tried and still practice.
1. I donated my car to Volunteers of America. We became a one car family.
2. My husband and I both recycle. We've become really good at recycling almost everything. Glass jars, plastic bottles, milk jugs, junk mail, and randomn plastic. We're pretty lazy about taking it to recycling, but because there are bottle redemption centers all over, it's fun to let the redeemable ones pile up and then get your money back for it.
3. We unplug every appliance that we can. The only things that are left plugged in are the refrigerator, washer, dryer, and maybe one lamp. Everything else gets unplugged so as not to waste energy. Surpringly, our electricity bill is significantly less thanks to doing that.
4. We bring our own grocery bags to the store.
We've (as in me) have begun to bring them to non-grocery stores. It's interesting to see people's reactions to reusable bags when the store is all about the paper or plastic. Try it, it's fun!
5. I bike or walk to work when I can. I walked to work pretty much all winter in below freezing temperatures and have recently purchased a bike. Maybe now I won't freeze my butt off for so long!
6. I started working for a company that boasted ideals like mine. Sadly, that company no longer exists as of today, but it was an honor to work for them. It makes me want to search for more companies like that, or strive to help other businesses become environmentally friendly. I've been making changes at my current job, but there is so much to be done.
7. My husband and I have changed the kind of food we buy. I pushed him into some of it and we still do buy some conventional items. On the whole, we buy natural or organic when we can. While buying local is still difficult, we try to do that as well. I can't even begin to name all the cool local products around here, but there are tons!
8. We no longer use any paper towels. We stopped usining them after a month or so of moving here. We fell into that one as we didn't want to buy another roll of paper towels. Thankfully, we have tons of dishrags and cloth towels to more than make up for it. It's much nicer to pop the dirty towels in the washing machine anyway.
9. We switched to natural laundry detergent and I would never let us go back to anything else. While there are probably even greener alternatives, this happens to suit us just fine.
10. Switching over to natural cleaning products has proved a bit more difficult than I would have thought. I do realize now that I did not properly dispose of our convention cleaning products when we switched over. However, we enjoy our lavender countertop spray. I'm not the only one to use it either. :)
*I must interject at this point. Most of these decisions were decisions instigated by me. I got resistance when getting rid of my car, explaining about environmental issues, unplugging everything (until he saw the difference from our first electricity bill to our second), and buying natural food alternatives. Thankfully, he has a willing mind and heart and he did not put up too much resistance once we gained momentum.
11. I have made a decision to not buy any new clothes. I can only buy used, alter, or refashion the clothes I currently own. It's not too difficult for me as I have always had an aversion to shopping (too many people), but there are times when I have an itching to try something new on. If that's the case then I'm trying to buy sustainable cool products.
12. We both donate tons of stuff to local charities. Granted, most of it is mine to give away, it still makes me feel good when we do it. I'm still trying to cut down my crafting collection so it won't be such a huge deal when we move again. I also find people I know to see if they're interested in some of the things I have. I've become a part of Portland Freecycle to unload some of my stuff. It's a lot of fun to browse and see what other people are offering, too.
13. We even converted our dogs to some degree. When they do get baths we use Shea Pet shampoo and conditioner. It's really concentrated, so we use next to none of it when they get all squeaky clean and it smells GREAT! We tried changing their food to a more natural alternative , but it didnt' agree with their systems and so they're still eating Iams.
I'm so proud of the changes we've made so far. I have many more ideas for the future, but I won't post them so you can anticipate what's to come. Most of the ideas I have are related to remodeling a home in some form or fashion. Of course, we won't have a house of our own until next year.