Part of My Old Glass Collection, Mostly Found Around the Farm
We do a lot of reusing and recyling here on the farm, both by force and by choice. Not having the urban convenience of toss-it-and-forget-about-it curbside garbage pick-up (which I wrote about here) really makes you look at the world—and your garbage—in a whole different light. We also do our best to reduce our consumption of everything from plastic bags to power, often saving not only precious natural resources in the process but precious pennies as well.
Going green isn't always easy, and sometimes it can feel like it isn't worth the extra effort—especially when everybody else around you seems to be taking the wasteful way out. But every little bit really can add up in a big way. Country Living magazine's Eco-Challenge has come up with 30 small and easy ways you can reduce your environmental impact in one month, without giving up modern conveniences. Here are a few of their inspiring examples, along with my two cents' worth and some staggering facts:
1. Return wire hangers to the dry cleaner. Because: More than 3.5 billion hangers (!) reach landfills each year, amounting to 200 million tons of steel that could be put to new use. My two cents: Also consider buying an Eco-Delightful Reusable Dry Cleaning and Laundry Bag—or better yet, try and skip the dry cleaner altogether!
2. Put cloth napkins on the table. Because: Eliminating disposable napkins would keep 500,000 tons of paper-based trash out of landfills each year. My two cents: I love cloth napkins and have been using them every day for years. Not only are they money-saving, resource-saving, and fun, but they also work ten times better than paper.
3. Leave a bar of soap by the sink. Because: Most liquid soap comes in nonrenewable plastic packaging. Substituting one bottle with a bar in each U.S. home would keep 2.5 million pounds of plastic out of landfills. My two cents: If you just can't give up liquid soap, buy it in a big recyclable plastic jug and then refill your smaller bottle.
4. Stow a reusable bag in your car for errands. Because: If every American stuck with cloth totes, we'd waste 380 billion fewer plastic bags this year. My two cents: Once I started keeping a bag of bags in the truck, 'bringing my own' quickly became a habit. Some stores even reward you with money back, chances to win prizes, or donations to charities when you bring your own bags.
Whole Living, the wonderful website of Martha Stewart's Body & Soul magazine, offers up its own list of 30 'Do Just One Thing' Earth Day ideas, along with 10 Money-Saving Home Eco-Tips and 10 Ways to Be More Green.
As for my being eco-chic? Green style guru Danny Seo, author of the Simply Green book series,shares 25 Eco-Chic On the Cheap Ideas for your home on Whole Living, and number one is a mixed glass centerpiece of weathered bottles and jars. My collection of jars, most of which I found in old trash piles around the farm, fits the bill perfectly.
Want more green inspiration?
How Do You Make Your Kitchen Garden Even Greener?: Readers and I share our eco-friendly ideas and tips over on my kitchen garden blog.
Back 40 Books: Hundreds of helpful books on self-sufficiency and sustainable living from a small Missouri company.
Environmental Working Group: Works to protect children and kids from toxic chemicals in our food, water, air, and everyday products.
FoodShed Planet: Blogger Pattie Baker nurtures sustainability, close to home and around the world.
Ideal Bite: Sassy, bite-sized ideas for light green living delivered via e-mail.
Kitchen Gardeners International: Globally promoting the 'localest' food of all (and largely responsible for making the dream of a White House organic vegetable garden a reality).
Local Harvest: Find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area.
Organic Consumers Association: Campaigns for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
Organic To Be: Neat group blog shares organic recipes from popular authors, garden and farm skills, plus news and opinions.
The Daily Green: The consumer's guide to the green revolution.
Union of Concerned Scientists: Nonprofit science advocacy group that works to ensure that all people have clean air and energy, as well as safe and sufficient food.
Do you know a great green website or have an easy eco-tip (chic or not)? Please tell us about them in the comments section.
Happy Earth Day to you!
© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the doing-our-best-to-be-green foodie farm blog where we've never cared much about fashion, yet often dress in designer labels for pennies on the dollar by shopping for previously owned (but ususally barely or never worn) clothing at places like The Scholar Shop in St. Louis, where all of its profits go toward local scholarships. It's a win-win situation for everyone—though Liz Claiborne and Anne Klein would probably be surprised by some of the things we do around the farm in their clothes.