April 21, 2010

Happy Earth Day! Five Easy Changes to Get Greener

My plight of unrequited green-ness is well documented here, but on this, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, I want to celebrate what I think I am doing right for our planet and for the future of my kids.  Here are five changes that I've found to be really easy. 

BioBags 1.) BioBags
For our family, this is one of the biggest no-brainer eco options out there.  We've been using BioBags for several years and are really happy with them.  Biobags, which are made out of corn, are compostable and biodegrade in a matter of months (not 20+ years).  They're better for the environment than polyethylene biodegradable bags (which actually just break down into tiny bits of plastic) because in addition to being completely compostable, they are also made from a renewable resource.  Are they as "good" as plastic kitchen waste bags?  I won't lie, they're not the latest force flex. They will explode if you crush and stuff them like you do a plastic bag, but wouldn't you feel better reducing the amount of plastics you're putting in the landfill and knowing that your non-recyclables aren't fossilizing?

2.) Cloth napkinsPier One Harvest Check Napkin  
OK, if not cloth diapers, how about cloth napkins?  We stopped using paper napkins and paper towels almost entirely (I keep cocktail napkins around for guests and parties, though, I have to admit) and the transition was seamless.  Buy 10-12 inexpensive cotton napkins from Pier One or some other such retailer for $2 or less (check the clearance bin!) and keep them someplace convenient.  We use ours one or twice then wash with all the other crazy mounds of laundry we're already doing anyway.  Sometimes I dry them, but they actually look better when I just snap them out and dry them on a rack.

Accordion Drying Rack  3.) Air Dry Your Laundry
It's a sad fact, but for me, and I think for most people, doing the green thing needs to be as easy as possible.  We live in such a convenient world (ok, country), that it's difficult to make even small changes and slight efforts when we don't have to.  For example, when I had to lug my super-cumbersome stand-up drying rack out from the space between the wall and the washer and later watched as my dear boy pluck off each item I'd painstakingly spread on its rods, I air dried my clothes a lot less. But with this accordion-style rack that's wall-mounted above my washer, I just take an extra minute to pop my clothes right on there and call it a day.  Now you're saving energy and lengthening the life of your clothes–easy on the planet, easy on the finances on both accounts.

4.) Donate, Don't Trash Un-used Baby Gear and ToysWeeCycle  
I see it time and again and it really bums me out: baby gear and toys in the trash.  I don't pluck them out to donate them because I have no way of knowing if they're safe or in good-enough condition for a child to use–only the original owner knows. Believe me, as someone who counts it as an all-star day when I can get my two tiny boys and myself out the door before 10 AM, I know it's difficult to make an extra effort to load up the car and lug bulky toys and gear to a charity, but if you save it up and make one big trip, it's warm fuzzy waiting to happen.

Cotton Babies  5.) Flush the Poop
It's estimated that 5 million tons of untreated waste go into our landfills each year and we can all do our part in keeping at least some of our babes' waste out of the mix.  I think if you can, cloth diaper.  Other than elimination communication, it is without a doubt the most ecologically conscious way to deal with your child's bodily functions for the first 30+ months of his life.  I cloth diapered my first full time for 10 months but then fell off the wagon and went part time after that, and I now only part time cloth diaper my 7-month-old, but one thing that's stayed consistent is that I flush the poop.  It take just a few extra seconds and I feel good that I'm putting poop in it's place–the sewer–not in our ground water.

What are your best green tips?

Happy Earth Day,

- M.  

5 Comments
  • Tegan and Tage
    April 22, 2010

    Those are great tips, and really, ones that we can all do. I actually HAVE cloth napkins, we just don’t USE them. Shame on me. Time to start.

  • S
    April 22, 2010

    I think the key with cloth napkins is to make sure you don’t have “fancy” ones. My nice white ones never came out of the drawer…until a dinner party where they promptly were stained, LOL. I’m going with cheap, dark colors from now on!
    M – I’m tempted with the air-dry thing. I remember my mom hanging up our sheets in the backyard…I would run through them over & over. It always reminds me of summer.

  • Mary
    April 25, 2010

    I actually got rid of my dryer this past year. I have a couple really good clothes drying racks. I have found that the secret for me and air drying is timing. I do my laundry in the evening. Then I wait to hang my clothes until the little ones are in bed. Then I put my racks, one in the middle of the living room and one in the middle of the kitchen. Fill them with clothes. I help them along with the ceiling fans. Then simply unload and fold first thing in the morning.

  • Kate
    April 26, 2010

    YES! FLUSH THE POOP, PEOPLE!
    Poop is meant to go through the waste water treatment system, not the landfill. In fact, disposable diaper packages even say that you are supposed to flush the poop, it’s just that most people disregard that.
    Think of it this way — would you go #2 in a trash can? Then why is it okay to put your baby’s poop into that trash can?
    The other thing is that of course this will make your diaper pail stink a lot less! So, it’s a win win for you.
    (Okay, stepping off of soap box and away from keyboard now.)

  • Shana
    April 27, 2010

    Ooooo….Mary….I’m going to try your technique…love it. It would even work for apartment dwellers like myself.
    Kate – nice visual.(trash can) It’s quite a compelling argument. :)

Leave a Reply