Sunday, August 7, 2011

For every action, there is an equal, but opposite, reaction

Or something like that.

Over the past few years, I have gotten a lot more environmentally friendly. But I am afraid the more I try to do to help better the environment, the more I end up hurting it, or wasting, at least in some other way.

Example 1: I use reusable bags every time I shop. (I make an exception for my Kohl's visits, as I use those bags to line my bedroom garbage can.) The problem is, the bags get dirty and germy, so I sometimes spray them with a disinfectant spray. But isn't that just harming the environment too?

Example 2: Years ago, before I lived in a place that recycled, I threw things in the garbage as soon as I finished them. End of story (for me, anyway). But now I rinse jars, jugs, and cans because I don't think you are "supposed" to leave food particles, remnants of PB, etc., on them. And that, of course, means using water unnecessarily. Maybe I don't need to do this, though?

That said, I have made some recent changes that seem to help the world without hurting it in some other way (at least as far as I can tell):
  • When I shave my legs, I turn off the water. This works in the summer because I don't get cold standing in the shower with no water on me (it probably helps that I take cool showers). And I use the water from my shower to rinse my legs (I put the drain stop in during my shower to collect water). I don't do this in the winter because I get too cold, but I also tend to shave only once a week then, so not as big of a deal. :-)
  • I run the washer, dryer, and dishwasher only when they are full, and I try to do these things in the evening whenever possible. I also do most of my laundry in cold water. And I stopped rinsing most of my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • I try to combine trips whenever possible. In fact, many times when I volunteered for lunch duty at J's school last year, rather than go home for an hour and a half before pick up, I went for a walk, took a run, or helped out in some other way at the school. And unlike at least half of the parents at pick up, I don't run my car while waiting. I don't care if it is 30 degrees or 90 degrees. I deal with it.
  • I try to buy refillable stuff whenever possible. I wish more of the products I liked offered this (Bath and Body Works, are you listening?!). And sometimes it ends up costing more to go this route, so I don't always take it. But I do what I can.
  • I recently started bringing home my mother's empty plastic bottles and cardboard to be recycled. Pretty much everything imaginable can be recycled where I live, but in my mom's neighborhood, only glass, cans, and newspapers are recyclable. And unfortunately, that woman goes through a lot of plastic.
  • And one good thing about my no longer working at my last job? I don't sit in traffic contributing to all those emissions!
If you want to see how you are doing and how you can improve, check out this calculator from the EPA. You don't have to be a tree-hugger or a climate change proponent to realize some things we do impact the world around us, even if just a little.

In the meantime, if you want to brag about what you do, I would love to hear it. I am certain many people do a far better job than I do, but every little bit helps. The planet we may save is our own.

No comments: