I focused so much on the Pennsylvania Primaries that I completely forgot it was Earth Day yesterday. Jeezum crow! How can I be so narrowly focused? I can still talk about green things we try to do in my household. And I can tell you what I would like to do to be more green in the future. So here it goes:
We drive a Toyota Prius and in warm weather, we get 52 mpg. Yes, that's right, 52 mpg. Not only our we doing our part to save the earth, our gasoline bill has been cut in half. We also have a 1997 Subaru Outback but I only drive it during the week to work and back so I try not to pollute to much with that bad boy. In its hey day, it got almost 30 mpg. Not great but heck, better than a Hummer.
Rather than throwing out food scraps and coffee grinds, we compost them in the backyard for our garden. A few years ago, The Prof got a kick ass compost bin for free at a composting seminar up at the university. We have a smaller container under our sink where we collect our scraps and then we take out it out when its full, stir up the goods, and let it cook. I know that some bins have the worm option but since I'm a scaredy cat of wriggly things, I prefer to let nature do it's thing without the help of worms.
During the summer we plant a vegetable garden. This year The Prof is in charge because tenure is in the bag and he doesn't have to be chained to his lab 6 days a week. Thank. God. Plus, he has farming in his blood and is much better at cultivating delicious tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs than I am. Not only can we grow our very own organic vegetables, we can save money and fuel by not going to the grocery store as much. And can I tell you how cool it is to go out back before dinner to cut some lettuce and pick some fresh tomatoes to go with something on the grill?
We do not eat meat. This may not be 100% green because some foods we purchase are processed. My goal is to move away from processed foods because obviously it requires energy to make the food and that is sort of against the point. But most of the meat at the store is from factory farms which are super nasty (I won't go into detail; you can check the links if you want) and are huge polluters. If you do eat meat, buy from local butchers and small farms where they feed their livestock organically and don't use nasty hormones. From what I hear, you can notice the difference in the taste.
This winter we changed over to a programmable thermostat. Obviously, our house does not need to be 66 degrees during the winter while we are at work. And don't worry, the kitties and puppy are kept warm and cozy while we are gone. We don't turn off the heat, we just turn it down. The thermostat has different settings for week days and the weekend and for during the day. We program it to begin heating the house at 6:45 a.m. and it stays warm until about 8:30 a.m when it goes back down to a cooler temperature. At 5:45 p.m., the house is warmed and stays that way until around 11:00 p.m. Not only are we using less energy which is good for the environment, our heating bill has never been over $150 for the month during the winter.
There are a lot of other things we do that help: switching over to green cleaning products, not using the Starbucks cup sleeve, reusing the backs of paper to make lists, recycling everything we can, living in a smaller house to use less energy, replacing our old windows with new Energy Star windows, shopping at a Coop and buying organic food, purchasing locally made and grown products, and using window fans instead of air conditioning in the summer. And I would like to point out, we live in a climate where AC is not a necessity.
Are we perfect? No! There are a lot of things I should be doing like taking public transportation or biking or recycling more at work. I think we are doing pretty well so far and I plan to continue to be more green by purchasing another hybrid when we replace my car, using cloth diapers, and installing solar panels on the next house we purchase. Hopefully, more people will realize what a fragile planet we live on and will do what they can to make it a little better for everyone. Happy Belated Earth Day!