small changes. big affect.

In a post I did a few days ago, I chatted about things I am doing to reduce energy use and consumption in my life now that I have a kiddo. In addition to the comments on the post, I received several e mails from readers expressing enthusiasm for things they do and things they now feel inspired to do. I love it. We are all connected; everything is reciprocal. It is heartwarming and hopeful.

I think it is easy for us to feel overwhelmed by all the environmental problems and in a meandering, guilt-laden thought process, ultimately decide to do nothing because it is easier to do what we have always done.

So, I am going to create a list of small, totally doable, no excuse not to try it items on the side bar of this here blog. These are things we do at my house that are super easy. Please leave me a comment to add something to the list!

  • Be creative with wrapping paper (it is amazing what I gorgeous ribbon can do to a newspaper-wrapped package).
  • Think about the lights you use. Turn out all lights when you leave a room and while in a room, only turn on what you need.
  • Here is a post I did about yard care and research regarding chemical use and lawns.
  • Break the habit: say no to bags when checking out; I swear, 90% of the time you can carry the item(s) just fine.
  • Bring bags to the store with you. Just keep ‘em in your car so you can’t forget. and, cloth bags aren’t just for groceries. Bring them to Target, Home Depot, Banana Republic…you get it.
  • If you forget your bag, combine items into fewer bags. You don’t need to double bag a box of macaroni and cheese.
  • Keep exterior lights off at night.
  • Turn off your computer when not using and if you don’t, at least turn off the monitor.
  • When driving, coast into stop signs and stop lights instead of accelerating and breaking.
  • Don’t buy garbage bags! Don’t preserve your trash in plastic! Use what you have laying about and reuse those if you can.
  • Use cloth napkins and don’t wash them after every use; once a week works great in our house.
  • Switch your accounts to online bill pay. It is incredible how much less mail you will receive.
  • Stop junk mail. Call catalogs and ask them to take you off the mailing list. Or, according to GardenPunks, you can stop junk mail easily through GreenDimes.
  • Change the light bulbs in your house to compact fluorescents.
  • Use your own coffee mug. Buy a really fancy and expensive one you will love to drink from and you will never forget it.
  • Buy recycled paper products. Who thinks its necessary to use virgin trees on your bum?
  • Use a programmable thermostat. No reason to have your house at 70 degrees while you are at work! We have saved a ton of energy and money by installing one of these guys.
  • Use old plastic bags to pick up your dog’s poo. No need to use the new, special poo bags.
  • It is not necessary to put all produce in plastic bags. Apples can roll around in the cart and be just fine.
  • Recycle everything you can.
  • Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater.
  • Use cloth diapers for your kids. Disposables never decompose. Gross.
  • Use natural cleaning products. We made the total switch a few years ago and now I can’t even stand the chemical smell of Pine Sol and the like. Those fumes are seriously bad for you and the planet. Vinegar works awesome for glass and it may seem more expensive to get other biodegradable cleaners and detergents, but do the math…they are very concentrated and it is actually cheaper because you use way less.
  • Print on scrap paper. You will have an endless supply even after ridding yourself of junk mail.
  • Turn printer off unless using it.
  • Carry your own, reusable water bottle. The stats on oil use for bottled water are alarming.
  • Grow your own food. It doesn’t take much space to have some containers for a few herbs or veggies and it will change your entire perspective about where your food comes from and how it is grown and harvested. You can grow nearly anything in a pot. Can’t do it or don’t want to? Know where your food comes from!
  • Don’t ever bag yard waste! Sprinkle grass clippings and leaves in your beds or place a giveaway ad somewhere…someone will want that gold.

13 Responses to small changes. big affect.

  1. lera says:

    That’s a great list.

    One thing that I have done for many years is use washable nursing pads. After nursing each of my babies for 16+ months, I have also saved a ton of money. I didn’t even realize washable was an option in the beginning, when I had baby #1. I actually was allergic to the disposable ones and became red and ITCHY! (not a good place to be scratching!!) For a few months I had to wear the washable one next to my skin and a dispoable one on the outside in case of leaks. I was VERY leaky then. I need to do that for a month or so after I have a baby, then my milk regulates enough that I just need the washable ones. (And you can make them yourself, too, out of flannel.) I’m still wearing the same pads that I had for baby #1.

  2. lera says:

    I forgot to say that I really can’t recommend a sewing machine. I’ve only had mine for 2 years and it’s had to be replaced TWICE.

    I know that there are a lot of Bernina lovers out there, but I think they are VERY expensive. They don’t even show prices on line. That was my hint that I couldn’t afford one.

    Good luck. I can try to answer any questions you might have about different features to look for. My email is on my sidebar.

  3. Weeping Sore says:

    One Xmas our grown daughter wrapped her dad’s present in Playboy centerfolds. He liked it so much that we’ve recycled the same paper and re-wrapped something in it each year. He’s proud of the fact that he’s a dirty old man AND he’s green!

  4. mrs chux says:

    a few more from our house…

    -only wash a full load of laundry
    -air dry laundry
    -put leftovers, half cut onions, etc in tupperwares (instead of baggies / plastic wrap)
    -take your own bowl & spoon to the ice cream shop (or get a cone)
    -call the publications that keep sending you crap in the mail and tell them to take you off their mailing list
    -try to run errands on your way to/from work to assist in using less gas ( and save you some time :) )
    -ask restaurants to NOT include plastic untensils, napkins, menus, chopsticks when you get take out/delivery
    -use the pix on received Christmas cards at wrapping accessories
    -tell your friend who is using paper plates, cups, utensils that you’ll do the dishes if they use the ‘real’ stuff
    -unplug anything you aren’t using
    -on my dell, i can put my computer on ‘hibernate’ mode. it shuts off the power but allows me to boot back up and start exactly where i left off

    …hmm, that is all for now, lisa

  5. Lea and Nick says:

    Ideal Bite often has great and easy tips on living a more sustainable lifestyle, and it’s updated daily…http://www.idealbite.com/

  6. Sanjiv says:

    GreenDimes here,

    Strongly appreciate the mention. We love Gardenpunk. Very thorough list.

  7. Katie says:

    Hey Nic – great and exhaustive list. If everyone did all of the little changes you’re recommending…we’d all be far better off. And our kids might be able to live on the same planet as polar bears.

    Katie at GardenPunks

  8. Michelle says:

    There is a great book called The Tightwad Gazette. It’s about being frugal and has a wonderful philosophy of use and obligation as well as being totally full of hints and tips for saving resources and money.

  9. Melinda says:

    Great list!

    I’d include:

    -drive 55mph (saves 10% of gas when compared to driving 65mph)
    -compost your food scraps
    -consolidate your errands to one or 2 days/week
    -replace showerhead with low-flow showerhead
    -handwash your dishes rather than using the dishwasher
    -If you replace your appliances, find one that is energy efficient
    -look for clothing and furniture in thrift stores and other sources for reused products
    -purchase milk in refillable bottles
    -cook at home with local and bulk food, rather than going out

  10. barbara says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. barbara says:

    Nici,
    I love reading both of your blogs. It’s wonderful to see what a great and happy mother you are and watching Margot grow. I also like your take on the world these days:)… I wondered if you saw this article in the NY Times, it made me think of you.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/16/us/16ecomoms.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    Love, Barbara (Schindler)

  12. Kimberly says:

    Great list! We do a number of those things. I think if everyone makes an effort to do at least a FEW of those things, we can all make a real difference.

  13. Hello, just wanted to mention, I loved this blog post. It was practical. Keep on posting!