Thursday, October 11, 2007

Being and going green...

I've been tagged again. It's a tag about "being green." I like the idea of being green, green like spring, money, and romaine lettuce. Green is good. Lulliloo's husband recently returned from a leadership conference in Atlanta that had a workshop that focused on spiritual stewardship of the earth. Sounds like an excellent workshop to me.

The challenge is to list three ways in which I practice protection of the environment. (I will list more than three...)

1. We are extremely conservative in our use of water: short showers, not letting the water run while we are brushing our teeth or wiping down the kitchen counters. I hate being at someone's house and watching them let the water run while they wipe the counters and the stove, load the dishwasher, and turn to me to chat. I often ask if the water needs to run. Even in stores and restaurants, I ask if water has to be running if no one is at the sink. As a family, we are not wedded to the idea of a daily shower either. If you haven't been sweating or rolling in the dirt of a baseball field, then why take a shower? Grab a wash cloth to wash your face, armpits, and other needy places, and take a shower tomorrow.

(I will digress here for a Dolly Parton quip. She said that when she was growing up, her family didn't have running water, so they would each have a little pot or tub of water and have to wash using a small amount of water. In teaching them how to clean themselves, her mother would tell them, "Wash as far up as possible. Wash as far down as possible. Then wash "possible." Get it?)

2. We recycle every kind of paper: paper towels (which I need to wean us off us!), junk mail, magazines, cereal boxes, facial tissues, anything that is paper, plastic, or glass, we recycle. Like Lulliloo, I regularly go through the garbage to find what others have tossed. Our weekly garbage amount has diminished substantially since we became more serious recyclers.

3. The vast majority of the detergents, soaps, and cleaners we use in the house are enviromentally friendly: organic, completely biodegradable, and then we recycle the bottle, of course. We buy in bulk so that we don't buy and toss dozens of small bottles each year. And I am getting better about using sponges, brushes, and cloths to clean, and not only paper towels. One all-natural detergent company claims that if every household in America traded a single bottle of petroleum-based laundry detergent (yes, it's made from oil!) for a non-oil based product, just one bottle, millions of barrels of oil could be saved. Imagine if every household traded two or three bottles per year?? Talk about dependence on crude and refined oil going way down... what a concept!

4. Turning off lights in rooms where we aren't is also a big thing in our house. Not everyone has caught on with this one, but we are making progress.

5. We keep our air conditioning on 79 or 80 degrees in the summer, and at 68 in the winter. My dad used to tell us that we didn't need to be walking around in shorts in the dead of winter or sweatpants in the summer. We had to adjust our dress code to the thermostat and not the other way around.

6. We try to open our windows as much as possible in the car - avoiding the use of air conditioning when we can. In the NC heat, that's not always possible, but as soon as the car cools off, we turn off the AC and deal with the heat for as long as we can stand it.

7. We have begun to use the long-lasting lightbulbs. Inside and outside.

8. Before we were in drought conditions and were required to stop watering our lawn, we made the decision to water less. To think about the ramifications on the environment of using strong lawn products and fertilizers. To consider whether the precious resource that is water is best used to keep our lawn green. To talk about what lawns are for. Lawn owners get the grass to grow in thick and green and then tell their children not to play or walk on them. "Don't lay down. Don't sit down. Just stay off the lawn." What's up with that?

Thanks for the challenge to think about ways to live better, to take better care of our planet, and to encourage others to do the same. This is the only planet we've got; why not take great care of it and leave as many of its bountiful, beautiful resources for our children to enjoy as we possibly can?

The last time I was in Connecticut, I had the chance to go past the house we lived in when we were CT residents. This was it - our humble abode. The two windows on the bottom right side of the house were our homeschool room. I learned how to surf the internet in that room. The large window above that was our living room. To the left of the front door, that first window on the top floor was Daniel's bedroom. And the last window on the left on the top was my study - which was the guest room when we had visitors. Kristiana's room was in the back opposite Daniel's room. Our bedroom was on the back next to my study. The two lower windows on the left were in the garage.

Look at that lawn! We had a blast playing on it: wiffle ball, kickball, soccer, running all around, chasing each other, playing catch, building snowmen and igloos in winter. Good memories!

We also had water concerns there because we had a well. How much water is in the well? Is the water clean enough? What if we don't get enough rain? I heard stories about other people's wells running dry, but we never had that problem - thanks be to God. There is a rather large pool behind the house. When the water leaked from the pool (which was often as the pool was old) or evaporated in the summer sun, I was perpetually nervous about refilling the pool from the well... Not such good memories! But, boy oh boy, did we love that house!

For those of you keeping score, we have been in our current house for nearly five years; it will be five years on November 2nd! Steve started working at the bank in the middle of September of 2002 and lived in a corporate apartment for a while, but the kids and I didn't get here until the beginning of November. These five years have FLOWN by!


Anonymous said...

We all need to" go green" really-- at least as much as we can afford to. I've gotten rid of all my "toxic" chemicals. The FDA can't keep up with all the toxic chemicals made.

I've heard too many house wives tales about unintentionally combining household cleaning supplies together they shouldn't (unknowingly)and passing out. Halloween is just around the corner and the Fire Department has dubbed these EMS rescue cases "witches brew" calls. First hand knowledge from a Fire Fighter.

And Dolly-- she is a true person. Singing her little heart as child at the loading dock at country feed store. I know as my Dad saw her there many times and went to H. S. with her. It was a very poor area, but she never forgotten where's she from and elevated that area out of poverty with employment and many other things.

My parents growing up bathed in well water (me too) and we drank it. Now days you can't be sure of the purity without test. I had mine well tested just in case we ever needed it.

We all need to" go green", and I'm not talking Leppercons green we wear once a year on Shamrock day either. As nice of a day as it is.


Amy said...


Great post and challenging thoughts!

My kids have always accused me of living in the dark, because I never leave lights on in rooms that aren't currently in use. I'm hoping Rhett remembers to recycle all those Gatorade bottles he goes through each week (Yes, I prowl the trash cans for them!).

On a final note, I love to have a Saturday of doing nothing and that includes not bathing. I need one day a week to allow the natural oils to nourish my skin and hair.

Have a great weekend!

Shelby said...

going green... I shall try to do better.

P.s. I posted photos of my family today :)

Nancy said...

Great reminder to us all Gail. If we truely love God then we will respect his creation and do what we can to take care of it. Every little bit helps and we can all do more.