Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Was Green Before Green Was Cool

I was green when green wasn’t cool. My mother is a health nut and jumped on the natural bandwagon in the 70s. We are also cheapskates, um, frugal. And being frugal often leads to greenness as a side effect. It seems to be genetic as one of my great-grandmothers “reused, recycled and made do” to the point that it is the stuff of family legend.

Here is what we do to be green.

Recycle - Plastic and steel bottles and cans with the city’s free pickup service. Aluminum cans we sell to a local recycler.

We bought some filter pitchers and quit buying bottled water.

Purchase clothing and household items from a thrift store as much as possible. And donate items we no longer use back to the thrift store.

Joined an online group called “Freecycle” where the members give away everything from clothes to computers to furniture to cars that have outlived their usefulness.

Use CFLs for almost all lighting. There is only one incandescent bulb left in my house and it is seldom used and is over 10 years old. If it ever blows, it will be replaced with a CFL.

Seldom use paper plates, napkins or towels.

Rerouted the washing machine drain to use that water for watering plants instead of having to use fresh water.

Use natural based dish washing and laundry detergents.

Use junk mail and newspapers for mulch and instead of weed blocking fabric in the flowerbeds. (Covered with a layer of pine straw or wood chips for aesthetic purposes. For info on how to do this, look up Ruth Stout’s No Work Garden and/or Lasagna Gardening.)

Compost kitchen scraps, leaves and grass clippings.

Plant drought friendly and native plants to avoid watering as much as possible.

Installed ceiling fans in all rooms to help circulate air better so it feels warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Heat the house to only around 65 to 70 degrees in the awake hours and 55 to 60 degrees for sleeping.

Planted English ivy and roses on the porch ends to shade it and the large living room windows from the morning and evening sun in the summer.

Use heat-filtering curtains over the windows in the summer. (Would love to replace windows with heat-filtering, double glass but that is not in the budget right now.)

Put down temporary carpet over the hardwood in the bedroom in the winter and take it up in the spring. The carpet helps insulate the floors from the cold. The hardwood feels cool in the summer.

Open the windows and let in the natural temperature as often as possible in the spring and fall. (And sometimes during what passes for winter in Alabama.)

Put an insulation blanket on the water heater.

Redirected the dryer vent to blow on water pipes under the house so we do not have to run heating cables or heat the space to keep the pipes from freezing in winter. (You have to be very careful as this can lead to excess moisture under the house but we have good very drainage and have not had that problem.)

Use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. (Baking soda is the best scouring powder in the world and doesn’t scratch as much as commercial scouring powders.)

Do not use non-natural pesticides or herbicides in my yard. (Though I did make an exception when Japanese beetles were eating my cherry tree a few years ago.)

Use canvass shopping bags for most shopping trips.

Buy from thrift stores and yard-sales. Everywhere in my house you will find items that come from thrift stores or yard-sales. From clothes to kitchen appliances and bed-sheets to living room furniture. One of my favorite yard-sale finds is a collection of 50s glass Christmas balls which occupy a prominent place in my holiday decorating every year.

March 31, 2009

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting that you say that.. because it is true that we learned to be like from our grandparents and the necessity of being frugal really. Great post.