Our topic: the environment.
What can I tell you? I'm a sucker for clean air, clean water and a good life. Unfortunately, the previous three things are affected by all manner of factors over which you and I have no control. It's absolutely true that I, by myself, cannot have as massive an impact on the environment as the entire government or giant businesses can.
However I, as just one person and a member of just one family (Of five!) am in the same position now as I am when it comes to voting. While it's true that just my one single vote may not make or break an entire election, it is the cumulative effect of my voting and getting others that I know to vote that does make a huge difference. The same logic applies to environmental causes. My simple little actions and my effect on others has a cumulative effect for the better.
Here are some small changes that we've made around here.
In the garden.
- Years back, a friend of mine was composting and asked if I was as well, since I was a rabid gardener. I wasn't at that time, and my friend showed me how. Now, years and years later, we compost constantly. It's not hard and it doesn't take too long, since we're lackadaisical composters here at Chez Hatchet and don't turn or water the pile as often as we "should" for faster finished compost. We have two trash cans in the house: one for trash trash and the other for compost. Once a week we (meaning Eric) take it out to the bin out back, add it in and stir it around. By doing so, we keep about a third of our trash out of the landfill and I have a "free" soil amendment for my garden. When I'm not hugely pregnant, I even make use of it.
- We (meaning me) don't use pesticides or herbicides in the garden, which keeps all manner of chemicals out of our house and out of the ground water. It also means that I have a greater diversity of insect and wildlife as each works to keep the other in check. So while I may have mice invading my home, I also get to have owls and snakes living close by to work on the mice that remain outdoors. Additionally, it means I never have to worry about what is on the tomato Caitlin is putting into her mouth, straight from the plant.
- I xeriscape. No, not zeroscape. Xeriscape. The right plant in the right place that uses less water means I have a more colorful front yard that uses a lot less water and fertilizer than a monoculture of grass does. It also gives me great pride and joy in a job well done and gives the neighbors something beautiful to look at as they drive, walk or bike past. People stop, stare, compliment and admire it far more than they would a lawn. Another bonus? Hummingbirds. And many other critters as well.
- We replaced as many bulbs as we could with compact fluorescent bulbs. The rest are on dimmers or enclosed, so until the come out with those replacements, we're good to go.
- We use cloth napkins. My friend Christine made me a set a few years back and we used them all the time, only using paper when we ran out of cloth and hadn't yet done laundry. To reduce our usage even more, I made a set in red so that I'd have at least one set available should the black set be in the wash or vice versa.
- We make Caitlin's lunches and send them to school in a Laptop Lunchbox. This keeps pounds and pounds of single use lunch items out of the waste stream.
- We recycle everything our trash service will take.
- We buy local and organic food and products (ex. hair gel) when available and affordable.
- We buy as little processed food as we can which generally means less trash and more compost.
- We generally just drive one car now that we're all at home.
- We pay to use wind source power as part of our power consumption.
- We try to minimize our water use as much as we can. Next up is the purchase of a high efficiency washer.
- Finally, I breastfeed. While there is often a mess, there's no waste to dispose of (unless someone throws up), no bottles to wash and no driving to the store to pick up more of it. If only it were that easy and painless! It's also a fabulous dieting aid: I'm down 40 lbs this week.
- One more thing: since we often throw parties around here (for ourselves, our kid(s!) and friends) we never have enough regular dishes to go around and used to buy paper plates and plastic cups. I used to buy the compostable paper plates, but it still bugged me to throw out the forks and cups. Last year I finally found inexpensive, reusable, dishwasher safe plastic cups, plates, bowls, and utensils and bought service for 25. Now we have plenty for the piles of folks we regularly invite over and it can all be washed and reused over and over again. Also great to take to school picnics. Add in our cloth napkins and our parties are paper free! Well...except for the presents!
Make sure your choices are good ones for your family, your neighborhood and your environment. It's the only one we have. Let's share it responsibly.