Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Inching towards Green

It's been well documented how crazy this past year of our lives has been. As a result, we've done extremely little in becoming a greener household. We did manage to buy some beautiful green reusable grocery bags that have yet to make it into our trunk and therefore have been used exactly twice. We've also managed - recently - to switch to cloth napkins during dinner. This alone makes me feel like such a huge green superhero that I clearly must be saving the entire planet with our 6 cloth napkins. Seriously, I may have single handedly ended the battle.

I have THOUGHT a lot about future steps we can take towards greening our household once life isn't in permanent transition and operating in overdrive. I'm one hell of a green-thinker. Of course, I delude myself into believing that and then the green-goddess known as Ouiser writes about how irresponsible it is to be taking handfuls of napkins and ketchup packets when you're at a fast food restaurant and I think to myself... Ouiser? Was that you behind the counter last weekend at the Taco Bell we stopped at?? I'm sorry!! We have allergies!! It's my natural instinct to clean out the napkin dispenser lest our snot-family have an attack. Damn it.... I'm back to killing the planet and have negated all that progress I made with the 6 cloth napkins.

So... it's a process. And really, if y'all knew Ouiser you would know that she's like a prettier, funnier, and more ethical Martha Stewart, so no green-comparisons should ever be made. You'll lose. But she IS a great source of inspiration. OR - in B's mind - a source of total stunned amazement. Let's have a flashback. Cue the music and fog...

We're down in Nashville in the quaint little town of Dickson (see how I'm keeping up the Dickson PR by calling it "quaint" and not "frighteningly rural"??? Hehehe.... just joking Dickson folks!), and we are standing in the Ouiser kitchen about to digest some extremely yummy brownies she's just made. B takes a scan of the kitchen, the pace of his eyes quicken, and then Ouiser hands him his brownie on a cloth napkin. This prompts him to look at me with the same expression I imagine he would have had had Ouiser marched into the kitchen naked and says in a whispered intensity "Baby, I don't think they even OWN paper towels. Do you see any?? How do they DO that!!???"

Clearly, he wasn't aware that it's really the Ouiser family that is saving the planet and NOT the AnderBerry's and their 6 cloth napkins. So I look back at him like he's crazy and say "I don't know, they probably don't own paper towels. What's the big deal?" "My god, how much laundry do you think she does??" "Jesus, I don't know - they're not that messy of a family!"

And this is the story that has been making me laugh out loud for months now. So, yes, this little family still has quite a ways to go when it comes to greening up our lifestyle, but I swear to god, we're totally thinking about it in the meantime. If you want to make yourself feel a little more green-educated, here are two links about plastic for the day.

Junkraft - These people built a boat from plastic bottles and are sailing across the Pacific. Along the way they're blogging about the experience and filming it for an upcoming documentary.

Scrubbing Out Sea Life - This is an article from Slate about how all of those wonderful exfoliating scrubs we use in the shower are exfoliating us with tiny plastic beads that are clogging the oceans.


feather nester said...

It's so funny to me that the no-paper-towels thing is so mind-blowing to him (or anyone!) still. It'll be great to see him with a baby of your own. I think it's probably safe to say that Ouiser and I both do laundry 4-7 days per week (she may do less than me because her washer's a bit bigger). (I'd be curious how often TT does laundry, but she has a really nice washer, so it's probably bigger than mine, too).

And while we do have paper towels in the house (I only switched less than a year ago...what was I going to do, throw them away?), the Husband gets such evil looks of disapproval when he uses one (maybe once every couple months), that it is a rare event 'round these parts.

When you do cloth diapers, the whole no-paper-towels thing just goes along naturally. Cloth wipes do double duty as kitchen rags, kitchen towels work as napkins, and then the cloth napkins themselves seem downright fancy. We only have the one set of cloth napkins, too, but I have LOTS of kitchen rags that were initially cloth wipes that didn't work out (poor fabric choices). Even if you don't do cloth diapers/wipes, you'd be constantly washing bibs, burp cloths, etc., so the cost of paper towels is just horrifying to me now.

I would strongly suggest, in a household like yours, where you go through so many tissues, try handkerchiefs. We have tissues around, but really for guests. I use rags, but you could use real handkerchiefs that are nicer-looking and -feeling. I think the Husband uses his t-shirt, which I don't recommend. :) But with handkerchiefs, I bet you'd save money AND eco-guilt!

But if you're hardcore, like me, you don't even have to buy handkerchiefs. Just cut up some old clothes. Flannel pj bottoms are very soft, FYI.

die Frau said...

I have been known to use a bandanna for a handkerchief but I'm planning to do the old t-shirt thing for handkerchiefs.

We haven't switched away from paper towels yet but I want to try. Not sure how DH will handle it, so perhaps Feather Nester and Ouiser can gently yet militantly help him move in that direction.

My next post will include a horrifying slide show about plastic bags. Be forewarned.

On that note, the site www.ecobags.com has cotton produce bags, so you don't have to get the crummy little plastic bags every time you buy apples or lettuce or what-have-you. I couldn't stand that. Plus they weigh next to nothing, so it affects the price minimally. I just bought mine, so I'm sure I'll soon rave about those as well.

die Frau said...

I have also cut down on allergies by using a neti pot and just started using bee pollen, as recommended by my sister's BF. I'll let you all know how that goes. The neti pot works quite well, I have to say.

Ouiser said...

well don't i feel like a jerk.

i'll just go ahead and say that i don't have a problem with people using the stuff at fast food places...it's the wasting that really gets me. i mean, i'd prefer if they didn't use so much plastic and so many paper products, but as long as things aren't wasted, i can make my peace. i'm sorry to have horrified you. know that i care about you and b and your allergies.

remember that every little bit counts when you're greening. (die frau, does it bother you that we're all suddenly using "green" as a verb??) besides, it's all individual. no matter how much i read that i should, i just can't limit myself to 3 minute showers. i can't. i won't. it's too much.

funny that you mention body scrub. i made my own last week with turbinado sugar, honey, olive oil, and lemon juice. i really like it, though it's kind of a pain to rinse.

i'm out. i have to go wrap a gift. i wonder who it's for:)

Strongmama said...

To answer FN's question about my laundry practices, I guess I do about 2-3 loads of laundry a week. It depends on how messy J has been. We do have a high efficiency washer and it holds a lot. We always wash in cold water with only a little bit of soap. I admit we still have paper towels in our house, but our consumption isn't what it used to be and they are recycled ones. I recently tried recycled toilet paper, but they went straight back to Costco (while saying the mantra, I'm doing what I can, but this isn't it. I can do one ply, but recycled one ply is just too much.) If you are looking for nice kitchen towels, hit up Williams Sonoma when they have their semi annual sales in Jan and July, I think. They always have their napkins on sale (they may be outdated colors, but I've actually gotten lucky and found some coordinating ones from different seasons). Has anyone seen the new Planet Green TV channel? They've got some pretty neat and practical ideas, but I find their advertising choices to be ironically ungreen for the most part. Maybe that will change as they pick up more publicity.

billy said...

Even I have switched to using cloth bags at Wegmans. Although, if you would have been attacked by those, forgive the term, tree-hugger cornell students, you would understand why. The guilt was just to much!


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