As I was walking my dog yesterday I noticed three empty beer bottles and their cardboard carrying box in the gutter by the high school. I guess the litterbugs only had time to finish half the six pack before they were interrupted from their suburban hoodlum activity.
Upon seeing this garbage in the road I realized I was faced with three choices:
Ignore it and leave the trash in the road, an uncaring witness to the destruction of my neighborhood and my planet.
Pick up the bottles and carrying case and dispose of them in the trashcan at the park, which would be good for my neighborhood, but bad for the planet as glass bottles take approximately one million years to decompose.
Pick up the bottles and carrying case, bring them home and recycle the bottles, therefore being a good local and global citizen.) Plus the recycling center gives 5 cents a bottle – cha-ching!)
So even though Earth Day is over, because I am a good human, I chose option #3.
Now, I never leave the house without a couple of poop bags, but I did not have a garbage bag with me so I was forced to carry the bottles in the cardboard carrying case. Convenient, yes, but it does not, perhaps, reflect the classy image I try so hard to project.
Then a little further down the road I happened upon another empty beer bottle from a presumably different suburban hoodlum (as it was a different brand of beer), so I stuck that in the carrying case as well.
And then, thanks to Jen, who likes her caramel macchiatos venti-sized, I saw an empty Starbucks cup in the gutter a little further down. (I’m sure you make your mother proud with your inability to find a trash can, Jen.)
So, if you happened to drive by and tsk-tsk at the suburban mom walking down the street at 7AM with a brindle-colored dog carrying 4 empties (and a Starbucks cup!), get over your damn self, Judgy McJudgerson. I was saving the earth!
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Yeah, yeah. We know, we know. (You DO know don’t you?) But if you are looking for some REAL ways to go green and make sure that every day is EARTH DAY then you’ve come to the right place. (I’m like a regular public service announcement!)
Use Less Plastic
Sure, we all use reusable shopping bags when we do our grocery shopping. (Oh, please, please tell me you use reusable shopping bags. Every time. Or at least almost every time.) But there are other ways to use plastic less.
How about marinating your meat in a glass or metal bowl instead of putting it in a Ziploc bag? And don’t tell me it won’t fit in your fridge that way. If it will fit in my fridge it will fit in your fridge. Trust me.
And instead of using plastic lunch bags for chips re-use plastic salsa or humus containers. Or at the very least have your kids bring home their plastic sandwich bags so they can re-use them for non-gooey things like pretzels or dried fruit. Chandler does it. Sadly, Marley does not. Sigh…
And I beg of you, above all else, please use re-usable water bottles instead of throw-away plastic ones. Sure, you recycle the bottles, but recycling plastic water bottles puts a crazy amount of toxins in our air. And if you think it’s healthier you would be wrong. Your tap water is heavily regulated. The water in plastic water bottles? Not so much. That’s right – that “spring water” you’re paying crazy money for (likely more than you pay for gas) can come out of a well down the road from the water bottle factory for all you know. Is washing out water bottles every night a pain in the butt? You bet. But so is brushing your teeth before bed every night and you do that don’t you?
Use Less Paper
A couple of years ago we started using cloth napkins every day. I love it. Most of my napkins are from my grandmother so they are totally retro. I’ve also found quite a few cute ones at yard sales. I keep them in a basket on a shelf in my kitchen near the table and have a basket next to it for dirty napkins. We usually use one napkin per day each (we hang it on the back of our chair when we’re done with a meal) and I wash them on Sunday and fold them as I sit on the den floor so I can stay awake while I’m watching Game of Thrones -or whatever awesome 9:00 Sunday night show is on- because I am old and tend to fall asleep while watching TV.
I have to admit, even though we were using cloth napkins, up until recently I was still a paper towel whore. Spilled milk – get a paper towel. Clean the stove-top, get a paper towel. Eating breakfast on the way to work – wrap it in a paper towel. But a few months ago I cut up my 19-year-old wedding towels and turned them into rags. (I’m pretty sure that’s not a metaphor for the state of my marriage!) I store the rags under the kitchen sink and toss them in the basket with the dirty napkins after I use them. (I will admit that I do sometimes have to soak them in Oxi Clean to get them clean enough, because they can get a little bit greasy and gross.) I will also tell you that if you plan on cutting up some old towels you might want to sew the edges because the edges really fray a lot. But I’m way too lazy to do anything like that.
Pick Up Litter
Yeah, you heard me. I walk my dog every day and every day I see trash in the street of my lovely suburban neighborhood. When I see it in the gutter all I can think about is it washing into the ocean and polluting our poor fish (who I might end up eating for dinner one day). So I bring a trash bag with me (yes, a plastic one – shut up!) and pick up the trash. If I find bottles or cans it’s a bonus because I get money back. My kids are semi-mortified by this and call my trash bag my hobo bag, and I’ve sometimes felt a little embarrassed walking around with sidewalk trash – but what’s more embarrassing – picking up trash or passively walking by and letting it pollute our planet?
You didn’t really want a photo of my gutter trash did you?
Plant Drought Resistant Plants
We have a little succulent garden in the front of our house. One day I envision our yard completely desert-scaped. If you want to know the truth, as much as I love my succulents, I don’t really love the entire desert-scape front yard look, but I realize the importance. We have a finite amount of water on this planet and if I’m going to waste it, I want it to be in a too-long hot shower and not on my lawn.
Hang Dry Your Laundry
When I hang our laundry outside Dave calls it hillbillying up the yard. No, it doesn’t look very classy. But it saves energy and it keeps clothes looking nicer longer. Some of Dave’s tee shirts in the photos below are from the 90’s. (Yes, we’re clothes hoarders people!) I wash our clothes in cold on the delicate cycle, put them in the dryer on low for 10 minutes to get out the major wrinkles and then hang them dry. Labor intensive? Yes. But totally worth it. Disclaimer: I only do this for my and Dave’s clothes. I don’t do it for the kids’ clothes, towels and sheets, or for our socks and underwear (I wash those separately). So don’t get all crazy and think you could never hang dry all your clothes – I’m not saying all of them. But would two loads a week kill you?
So there you have it. Five ways to make every day Earth Day. I’d love to hear how you are living green.