Friday, December 28, 2007

Some of my New Year’s Resolutions are Green

Ah yes, it is fashionable these days to wrap yourself and your home in green. Sustainable is tossed around here, there and everywhere, and I actually understand more about what that means than I did a few months ago.

Husband is on the sustainability council at Drury University and produces a newsletter for the group. He playfully points out “no trees were harmed during the production” of the electronic newsletter. In addition, he’s like a hawk with the recycling at home recently. We have paper sacks of paper and a plastic bin for the bottles, cans and plastic that our waste hauler picks up every other week. And I can’t sneak a non-energy-saving light bulb by him even if it is to rid ourselves of the old-style bulbs. If it’s up to him, our next car will be a Prius. He is fully on the green bandwagon. We are even recycling the Christmas tree, which Bass Pro and a local Boy Scout troop will take to Table Rock Lake to help the fish habitat.

Well, I’m getting there with the recycling, which leads me to my New Year’s resolutions. I have to give credit to The Daily Green for the inspiration after I read “7 New Year’s Eco-Resolutions for 2008.”

On Annie Bell Muzaurieta’s list:

1. “It’s time to clean out, and stop the crap collecting,” she says. You go girl! This is on my list too. This problem is vastly aggravated by the habit of shopping for recreation. Keep thee out of shopping malls and centers, so says me.

2. “I will avenge my phantom load.” She’s talking about computers, cell phones and other electronics that continue to use energy while plugged in. She suggests using a power strip and turning that off when the devices aren’t in use. I suppose I could shut the computer down. Okay, I’m adding this one too.

3. “I will be smarter than bottled water companies and drink for free what they are trying to sell me.” This does not apply to me (note the sound of me patting myself on the back), and I am therefore, leaving it off of my list. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a small bottle of water should not ever cost $3. Also, the skeptic in me wonders if that Wehrenberg movie theater water fountain was REALLY “Out of Order” the other day.

4. “If I can remember to TiVo “Dancing with the Stars,” I can remember to bring my own bags to the grocery store.” Annie, I think I want to try this one. There are plenty of cheap eco-friendly bags for shopping instead of the plastic ones offered by merchants. Of course, if you shop less frequently, you may be like a pack mule loading up for the trek home.

5. I’m deviating from Annie’s list now to my unique set of enviro-issues. A dirty little secret is thus revealed dear gentle readers. I take long and I do mean long showers. I hearby resolve to save water, energy and time with shorter shower-time.

6. And in general reduce, reuse, recycle and conserve.

What else can you do to green up your new year? The sky’s the limit. Get the bike out of the garage and use it instead of the car. Offer a friend a ride if you are both attending an event. Plant a tree. Replace an old furnace with a high efficiency Energy Star make. We did this and Springfield's City Utilities offered us a $250 rebate. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 66% less energy and last 10 times longer than regular bulbs. You’ll save an average of $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Buy as local as possible. Use old t-shirts and towels instead of paper towels for cleaning chores. Put up a clothesline. Wash with cold water whenever possible.

And on the subject of New Year's resolutions in general, is it silly to come up with them at all as some have suggested? Alex Epstein of the Ayn Rand Institute doesn’t think so. He writes:

This New Year's, resolve to think about how to make your life better, not just once a year, but every day. Resolve to set goals, not just in one or two aspects of life, but in every important aspect and in your life as a whole. Resolve to pursue the goals that will make you successful and happy, not as the exception in a life of passivity, but as the rule that becomes second-nature.

If you do this, you will be resolving to do the most important thing of all: to take your happiness seriously.

To expound and expand on the Epstein message regarding passivity, I would like to encourage us all to think about how we can make life better for others too. I resolve also to get up off of the sofa and test my passions with actions. Hope you will too. May the new year bring you hope, joy, healing from emotional and physical ailments, peace and much love.


Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

regarding those eco grocery bags: i freak out at the check out belt every time and make the cashier clean it. they are filthy and our food is setting on it. then you put the food into those bags and not THEY are full of germs. then it goes into your cabinets and they are germy as well. is it just me? and do those germs in those bags multiply while you are waiting to use them the next time? just askin'...

smiles, bee

Sheila said...

I am not sure what kind of bag you are referring to. Are they provided by the grocery store itself? If so, I'd be like you. I was talking about the kind of bags you buy yourself and take to the store each time you shop. In our area the stores offer plastic or paper as far as I know.

Jay Croft said...

Hooray for the Prius!

40 mpg. I drive from Montgomery to Mobile three times monthly, and do it on less than 10 gallons of gas.

However, because the tank holds about 11 gallons, I don't want to run out, so I fill up again when I leave Mobile. (Gas is generally a few cents cheaper there, too!)

Naomi said...

Great New Year resolutions Sheila! Everyone in England is trying to cut down on plastic bags. Some supermarkets have banned them altogether. I've heard about the Prius. Apparently they're much better for the environment than a normal car. I'd like to wish you and your family good health and happiness for the new year.

Sheila said...

Thanks Jay for the Prius endorsement. I don't imagine I can change husband's mind to buy me a Miata--it's the only car I've ever longed for. Anyway I leave that chore to him. We are still hanging on to the old Toyotas for as long as possible.

It's good to hear that some supermarkets are encouraging people to use a more environment-friendly way to get the groceries home. Thanks for the good wishes. I continue to enjoy your writing and wish you happy blogging too.

Sarge Charlie said...

I gave up on resolutions years ago, never seemed to keep them

Lorelei said...

I tried using paper bags at the grocery store instead of plastic but it only lasted about three weeks. The clerks seemed to get annoyed with me when I'd ask for them, and I hate it when people get annoyed with me. Of course a lot of people are probably annoyed with me, but the ones standing in front of me are the ones I'm most worried about. :) Good for you on all the green plans.

PD Warrior said...

I'm all for "Going Green." I believe saving the environment we live in is not only the noble thing to do, but the smart thing as well...after all, we still have to live here.

I can't help but ask a couple questions though:

What's it going to be this time?

Every time mankind comes up with something new, even though our intentions are good, something about our inventions/processes will inevitably back fire.

So, will saving the forest produce an overgrowth of mutant trees, fed by long forgotten stockpiles of buried toxic waste?

Or will the chemicals used to recycle all the paper, plastic and metal products eat an even bigger hole in the o-zone? Or perhaps drive the workers in the recycling plant mad as the proverbial hatter?

Just curious...

I too am on the recycling band wagon, looking for ways to save both the environment and some cash at the same time. But, something in the back of my mind can't help but wonder at the "folly of man."

Sheila said...

Don't give up resolutions or dreams for that matter.

You are younger than I am. When I was younger, I worried more about what people around me thought, even strangers. How silly! And while I don't advocate being intentionally rude or inconsiderate, I am more likely these days to make them wait. It's life and they will deal with it.

PD Warrior,
Did you happen to see the new Will Smith movie, "I am Legend?" The questions you raised reminded me of the questions I had after seeing this movie. Yes, humankind must be aware of those issues you raise for in our rush to do good, great harm can result. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. And if you haven't seen the movie, go.

Jay Croft said...

Lorelei, so what if the cashiers act "annoyed."

I'm more annoyed when elderly folks in the checkout line wait till the total is rung up, then they go into their purses, dig up the checkbook, slowly write a check, write the amount in the register, etc. They could have done most of that before they left home.

I have nothing against oldsters (I'm one myself) but when I see them in a checkout line I try to find another line.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Sheila- I totally agree with you on this subject matter. Now I should admit that I was a non-believer for quite sometime. however, strangely enough it was working with a few dog food companies (in my job) that started to change my perspective. We started selling more organic pet foods and ones that practice renewable resources, sustainable farming, bla bla bla. So it raised my curiosity. Now at least half of my food is organic (reduces pesticides in farming) and have become more green minded. I added those reusable shopping bags in our stores too. Its catching on with me and I owe it all to dog food! (ok I'll stop rambling now)

Cyndi Evans said...

I work at a local Wal-Mart store and we have a team of PSP (personal Sustainability Program). Some of us are in charge of making special sandwich bales (made up of cardboard and plastic and aluminum cans) to recycle. Others are in charge of getting the associates to exercise, eat right, give up soda and etc. Others are in charge of helping customers and associates to invest in the new squiggly light bulbs. There are many ways we can get GREEN. I am proud that Wal-Mart is taking a stand on being more GREEN.

Sheila said...

Palm Springs,
I think it's neat Petsmart, Petco and other chains are expanding into organic products. I can't remember which company you work for, but it seems like what you all are doing is right on. If I ever get a dog again, I'll seek out your company's stores. It takes a little effort to find these companies but many are getting on the organic, green and sustainable and fair trade bandwagons.

I am happy to hear the good news about Wal-Mart on this front. Now this is a job I'd love to have. Thanks for visiting and sharing. And keep up the good work. Those light bulbs are really a great deal too--a real energy saver and practically the easier way to green up your home.

Palm Springs Savant said...

Sheila- Thanks...I work for the one "where the pets go". I hesitate to name it directly so I don't look like I am a shill for my employer!


Diane J Standiford said...

I am in a wheel chair (MS) and my backpack takes my groceries. Will our good intentions cause harm down the road? Perhaps, but I prefer to err on the side of saving this earth. Will we make mistakes along the way? Of course! But not trying would be the biggest mistake of all.

Diane J Standiford said...

Hey, Jay, avoid me in lines too, I have MS, can't reach the machine to punch in my debit code, sometimes drop my apple, and if the guy behind me gives ME attitude I give it back, loud enough the whole store knows HE is the guy making me feel too slow. Works for me. Happy New Year.

Marion said...

Sheila, I'm going to print out your post and place it on my fridge. Graham is like your husband...very 'green'...and as a result, I have become more green, as well.

I know how fashionable it is to throw those words around, but I really do feel better when I do all I can to lower my footprint.

This lifestyle may be a bit more challenging for me in the near future!

Sheila said...

Palm Springs,
You are no shill. I remember what your response was during the recent fires with regard to helping the pets.

I know we all can get impatient with those in front of us in lines. It is silly. I wish people would behave in a certain way sometimes, but dang it, when I start down that road, I'm most always disappointed.
So, I try to bide my time and know that one day I could be that little lady slowly and carefully writing out the check.

I'm sure you have plenty of stories to share about your experiences just as Jay does. Most of us are incredibly insensitive to people in wheelchairs, people whose vision or hearing is impaired, people who are different in some way from what we consider normal. Every time, though, someone takes the time to "educate" me, I feel I increase my understanding. For example, last year during tornado warnings in Alabama, Jay brought to my attention something I had never given thought to--how do deaf folks know there's a warning?

Kudos to Graham and my Bill for nudging us in the right direction. I look forward to hearing about your transition.

Derek Wall said...

Some good suggestions especially the taking your bag to the store, I try to do this.

I have blogged my green resolutions here...I am not sure if you have mail preference in the USA in the Uk you can go online to stop getting junk mail....I wonder whether my other suggestions will travel across the atlantic

see what you think of these

Sheila said...

Many thanks Derek. We have Direct Marketing's Mail Preference Service to opt out of receiving unwanted mail. The link for U.S. readers is
and I would like to point out that it costs $1 to have your name removed and that you may also be removing your name from some preferred mail like catalogs and such. I actually like a couple of catalogs but you can apparently pick and choose.

Jim said...

Cloth napkins over paper.

No idling your car while you wait.

Hybrids only get great gas mileage if you drive like an old person. Slowly accelerate, reasonable speeds, things that never work on my freeway.

If you're using a cloth bag for your groceries, you can launder that bag. Cold water naturally.

Speaking of washing, many vendors are now offering concentrated laundry soap. Less plastic used to carry it home, less soap in the water supply.

Such little things.

Sheila said...

Many thanks for your suggestions and comments Jim. I've switched to ALL for laundry since it is offered in the concentrate. I like the smaller bottle and it works fine.