Wednesday, April 22, 2009

earth day '09


Happy Earth Day, everybody! Click on over to EcoWomen: Protectors of the Planet and enter our comment contest today!

The state of the planet today is a mixed bag, as it was back in 1962 when Gaylord Nelson first began the Earth Day movement (it wasn't an official holiday until 1970). Our messed-up economy has brought our planet some blessings: fewer people driving, lower bottled water sales, reduced consumerism and increased incentives for people to save money on energy costs. That said, developing nations like China are a toxic cesspool of pollution, we've got more chemicals in our water and food supply than ever before and we continue to lose our planet's biodiversity at a mind-numbing pace. To keep it in perspective, there's this. Yeah, you read that right. Plastic bag manufacturers, in a nod towards consumer backlash, are offering to develop plastic shopping bags that use 40% recycled material--in 6 years. Whatever. Thanks, but no thanks, guys. Holy green-washing, Batman!

Bottom line: more people are serious about environmentalism. Living green is no longer a profane idea. That said, plenty of people still don't get it.

A great case in point is my town. Recently we adopted a new garbage collection system--every household got a trash barrel provided by the county. The trucks sort of scoop up the barrels, reducing energy, labor and blown over trash barrels (in theory). Our new garbage bin is a whopping 65 gallons--4/5 of my family can physically fit inside this hog. (Our old trash barrel, now consigned to composting our food & yard scraps, holds 15 gallons.) Garbage collection is still weekly. Recycling collection? Reduced to every other week. So, larger garbage cans and weekly pick up came alongside reduced recycling pick up. Not environmentally friendly by any stretch in my book. People are now less encouraged than ever to recycle and more encouraged to chuck their waste in the landfill because Hey! This bad boy holds 65 gallons--plenty of room!

I'm going to hang my laundry on the clothesline now (washed in eco-friendly Seventh Generation detergent). Then I'm going to drink my homebrewed with tap water Fair Trade coffee and ponder what else I can do to live greener and leaner this year. (Don't you despise people who are all self-righteous and virtuous? They disgust me too.)

I raise my cup to everyone working on reducing their footprint this year. Cheers to you!

Green Girl & Bachelor #3 getting their hands dirty in the spirit of living greener.

25 comments:

  1. My contribution to Planet Earth this week has been to increase the size of my kitchen garden and plant as much as I can fit in there.

    One of my projects for this coming year is to set up a new office on campus (yes, I'm finally getting an office outside of my house) and make it as green as possible. Recycling bins, recycled paper for the printer, fluorescent bulbs for the lights, etc.

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  2. We have the big cans for recycling and trash, but the every other week recycling pick up. We save the recycling that doesn't fit and then put it in our neighbors' recycle bins the night before trash day.

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  3. HEYYYY! Homeschooling for the term makes us greener!!! Go us!

    And our compost is magnificent.

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  4. LOL! I *know* that photo must be from last year! If you're in shorts, I'll eat my biodegradable non-petroleum-based hat.

    Now, with that said, my favorite idea for those pesky plastic shopping bags is from a little site called My Recycled Bags. It's a blog by a woman who makes plarn (plastic yarn) and crochets reusable shopping bags out of evil plastic ones. It's really inventive, come to think of it.

    I'll be spending this afternoon at school. We'll be making bird feeders out of repurposed containers and having an outdoor cleanup. I've even convinced the school to "Adopt a Spot" adjacent to the school that needs cleaning on a regular basis.

    Call me crazy, but I just think one day is too little for all the important work that needs to be done.

    Which reminds me. Time to turn off the computer. Right?

    Have a great day! :D - Julia

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  5. Growing our own vegetables (we're already knee-deep in asparagus), working from a home office (my commute is a hallway), gardening without pesticides (well, as much as possible), using net bags for shopping. . .These are some of the ways we stay earth-friendly.

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  6. Happy Earth Day to you too! The girls I work with and I gave up plastic for Lent (well, TRIED is more like it - it was really hard!) and have decided to keep it going. Whenever we do use a plastic container for something we put $.25 or $.50 into a box and donate the money to charity. We are all also employeed by an environmental organization so we're celebrating by, uh, working :)

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  7. I am pleased that our Recycling services are weekly and the bins are very nearly as large as the trash toters. We used to have to haul all of our paper recycling to a friend in the next suburb over who would put it in her bin because our trash service only took aluminum and glass. It's so much easier now that we enjoy full-service treatment for all of our recyclables instead of just the landfill fodder!

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  8. One of the greatest things about ocmposting is how little garbage we make. Years ago we recycled before it was mandatory; same result. Much, less garbage - much more good karma, feeling good about how I'm living!

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  9. I enjoyed a little one on one time with my yard yesterday. Planted a few more perennials. Love that stuff. Gonna start our veggie garden very soon...if it stops getting cold here.

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  10. Hey! I recognize those boots!!! And we're right there with you darlin. Growing our own veggies this summer. We've been recycling everything for years.

    None of our neighbors recycle, but we keep hoping we're at least providing a good example.

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  11. We stayed at a friend's cottage in British Columbia last summer and recycling is an absolute ordeal involving your own sorting, packing, transporting, and scheduling of pick-ups, whew.
    We're fortunate in WA state to have such convenient recycling resources.

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  12. My kids go to a certified green school so they have a focus on environmental issues all of the time. They had extra focus this week and my son was looking for things to recycle. I said you will find them in the recycling bin.

    Sunday at the YMCA, I saw someone with a bag for their swimming gear that was crocheted out of grocery bags. I would try that except I don't use plastic grocery bags.

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  13. Those huge trash cans are something else! The day the trash truck empties them, they seem to inevitably end up lying on their side rather than right side up.

    In the winter, when the guy empties our recycle bin, he normally gives it a toss on the concrete driveway, and consequently, all corners are broken.

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  14. That was, in fact, a Cabbage Patch papoose on te back of my Nordic Sacagawea. Sometimes history gets a little creative treatment in schools.

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  15. I wash in cold and I don't eat meat. I also use all the backs of the paper I print out for scratch paper.

    We still produce too much garbage, but we're working on it.

    I'd like to garden, but I don't think it's going to happen this year.

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  16. You are just the loveliest person. Me yuv you.

    We do a pretty good job with eco-conscious decisions, but one tip I got recently that we have yet to implement is that tissues (like Kleenex) can be composted. All these years, we've been throwing them away!

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  17. Recycling is one of those no-brainer, environmental "do's" that surprisingly a lot of people and businesses don't "do." The restaurant I worked at during college didn't recycle. I placed buckets by the busser's station and asked them to please place all recyclables in those buckets. Every night I would take them home and empty them into the recycling dumpster at my apartment complex. The restaurant finally started recycling after they got tired of watching me haul the bottles out every night! It is good to note that a lot of restaurants and businesses don't recycle, and that they can be persuaded by staff and/or customers to change their ways.

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  18. Happy Earth Day to You Too!

    I grew up green - back then it was just being poor - now it's cool, but it's just the way I am.

    Mom used to always say, "Waste not, want not."

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  19. I knew you would have an awesome, inspiring post today. We're trying our best over here!

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  20. (Don't you despise people who are all self-righteous and virtuous? They disgust me too.)ROFL

    'Eh, you're actually doing something about it. I don't mind that. What I do mind are certain big-wiggs who go on and on and on and on about what we need to do to be more green... and then hop in their private jets.

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  21. I shred all the junk mail and this week I put it in a box as filler for 2 Mother's day gifts I mailed to my sisters.

    If I forget to bring my reusable shopping bags I save the plastic ones to empty the kittie litter box.

    Yesterday I saw OPRAH, about the Pacific Garbage Dump that is twice the size of Texas. I was disgusted and sad for the poor marine animals that have to live in that.

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  22. I like the ideas you gave us, and I feel like they are things we can all do. I no longer buy bottled water to carry everywhere. I also stopped using weed killers on the lawn. rabbits and voles abound. (the voles tore up the yard until I became friendly with a big cat at the back door. Yes, I pet that cat and he comes around daily. The voles have disappeared the natural way. We saw the cat carrying a rat in our yard too...we live in a rural area. Nature took care of itself in time!

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  23. We're trying to see how much we can cut back on food packaging around here. So we make our own yogurt now (no more plastic cups to throw away) and use a soda siphon with recyclable cartridges for bubbly water. Because we live in a city, it's easy to walk everywhere we want to go (or hop on the metro) so I can't take much credit there, but we do try to always carry shopping bags with us for the daily foraging you do when you live in a city flat with a small refridgerator. And of course, in Europe, it's easy to be green and not use a dryer when you don't have one (along with most of your neighbors!).

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  24. A few of the things we do include:

    -always use cloth napkins instead of paper, washing only when truly dirty

    -cloth diapering, I don't care what Proctor&Gamble says it's totally greener

    -reuse jelly & salsa jars to store leftovers instead of buying platicware

    -buy our local milk in glass jars which we return for the deposit (unless they're being used to hold fresh cut flowers)

    -we're lucky to have a weekly recycle pick-up and we collect the other recyclables that aren't part of the pick-up and take them to Whole Foods during their recycling drives

    -reusable shopping bags that are truly being reused (teacher giveaways) instead of purchasing a pretty new set

    I don't have a garden but am considering trying my not-so-green thumb at strawberries next year.

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Spill it, reader.