Shake and Fold

For Earth Day I encouraged you to go green. Lots of tips on ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in an effort to use fewer resources. Well, I found a strategy to reduce the use of paper towels that I feel can’t wait until April 22, 2014. I hope you’ll watch this short video. I’ll never forget this paper towel lesson.

Of course, Mr. Sam, the docent at the Silver River Museum always taught the fourth graders to dry their hands like the early inhabitants of the area. No paper towels. Super simple. Just shake.

Going Green Step 2: Reuse

reuseReusing products instead of using disposable ones is a good start, but buying used items instead of purchasing new is a terrific way to become a “reuser”. We’ve never been good at buying used cars, but John doesn’t shy away from used boats. My Dad has helped me realize just how many quality items can purchased used. Furniture, clothing, bicycles, tools, and sporting goods are readily available every week at garage sales. Why buy new when you can get quality used items significantly reduced prices?

Reuse products instead of using disposable products:
Use real dishes instead of paper plates or plastic cups. There is certainly a time and place for disposable products but don’t use them on a daily basis. I have a friend who won’t even use paper napkins or paper towels. I admire her commitment, but I’m not there yet.

25 plastic plates for $5 replace the need for paper plates
25 plastic plates for $5 replace the need for paper plates


Reuse shopping bags:

Bring your own bags to the grocery. This saves trees and reduces the use of plastic. Be the crazy lady (funny how she’s the norm now) John hated to see coming in his checkout line at Publix and whatever you do, don’t follow Uncle Bill’s advice and ask for double bags!
Reuse lunch bags:

Lunch bags or “old school” lunch boxes and water containers should be used instead of paper lunch bags and plastic water bottles. I know I buy bottled water sometimes (not a good use of resources) but I use and refill the same bottle for days and sometimes for weeks – a little better.
Reuse Furniture:

Used furniture can serve the same purpose as new. We’re pretty good at this. Meghan has a bed and patio furniture that belonged to Grandma and Grandpa (things they bought used). Emily has our couch, the brass bed that was purchased in the 1800s by Grandma’s grandmother (not new then), and a bed that was Grandma’s and then Meghan’s; and Sarah’s made good use of several a hand me love seat, dining table and chairs, and a recliner when she moved to Jacksonville. Meghan recently bought a used patio set, and Emily reuses both furniture and signs for events. Consider at least some second hand furniture to furnish your rooms – a way to save money and go green.

Reuse Clothing, Bikes, Tools, and Other Items:

Donate clothing and other items to charities or sell them at a garage sale so someone else can reuse things you no longer need or want. There are numerous organizations that would love to have the things you no longer want or need. And if you’re patient, you can find items you want being discarded by others

Be a “Reuser”

Check out 50 Ways to Reuse Everything


Go Green Step 1: Reduce


Yesterday I encouraged you to “Go Green” by reducing, reusing, and recycling. Today, I’d like help you make it happen.

First reduce water consumption:
Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers.  Wash only full loads of laundry or dishes. Wash your car so that the extra water runs in to the grass instead of paved surfaces. Follow guidelines for watering your lawn. It doesn’t take a lot of water to keep your grass and plants healthy. If you get really serious there are numerous ways to reuse water from baths and showers or by installing environmentally friendly plumbing fixtures.

Next, reduce electric usage:
Turn off lights, TVs, and other items not in use. Unplug chargers, toasters, and anything else that isn’t essential.  (I saw a woman swear she was saving over $50 each month just by unplugging electronics when not in use…sounds like an exaggeration, but saving money would be a good extra benefit.) Adjust the temperature on your water heater or better yet put it on a timer so you’re not heating water that you don’t need.

Don't forget to adjust your thermostat...maybe even invest in a programmable one.
Don’t forget to adjust your thermostat…maybe even invest in a programmable one.

Reduce fuel  consumption:
Plan your trips more efficiently. While buying a car with better gas mileage is a worthy goal, it doesn’t make sense to buy a new car just for the mileage – especially if you don’t need a new vehicle. I’m no poster child for gas saving vehicles. A Suburban can hardly be used as a good example of energy efficiency, but you have take into consideration your needs. If you need to pull a trailer, or carry more than two passengers, or transport items, or travel, you may need to make some mileage concessions to meet other needs. Carpool. Maybe you want to use a bike for some of your transportation. John and I rode bikes to work every day during the gas shortage in the summer of 1979. Of course it helped that we were working at a camp so dress clothes were not required. I also rode a bike to South Ocala to teach summer school one year. It really does feel great if you can do this, but if not, you may able to ride to the store or to a local restaurant or friend’s house. An interesting statistic: for every 10 miles you bike instead of driving, you reduce carbon emissions by 500 pounds. Just think how much I’ve saved by working from home!

Reduce use of paper, plastic, and packaging:                                                                                                                      Eliminating paper plates and other disposable eating utensils may not be practical everyday, but make an effort to use these products rarely instead of daily. Use fewer paper napkins and paper towels. You might even consider using cloth napkins. (You know you can use them more than once.) Fewer paper cups, plastic bottles, and no Styrofoam are goals to set. These are easy ways to make small changes in your habits.

The single best change I’ve made in recent years: reading digital content. We no longer need to recycle the two newspapers that were delivered daily and haven’t sacrificed access anything since we can access the information on the computer, iPad, even the phone if you can tolerate reading on such a small screen. Next Issue eliminates stacks of magazines with expanded digital content, and since receiving a Kindle for Christmas four years ago, I rarely purchase a book in the traditional format. If it’s not available digitally, then it’s time to make a trip to the library.

While the purpose of these tips is to conserve resources, they also result in saving money. Just last week I got our lowest utility bill in the 25+ years we’ve lived in this house. With five people and a pool, we’ve had utility bills as high as $600. Last week, for the first time, I received a bill of less than $200. In fact, only $167, of which $41 are for services and fees-not related to water or electric use. Of course, we’re down to two people and the pool is gone, but it sure feels good to save money, water, and electricity. Going green saves green too.