Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I want to ... but

Last July, when Reduce Footprints was born, I felt I was doing a pretty good job at living a green life, but felt there were more things I could be doing. So ... I started blogging, hoping that I would find many new and unusual ideas for walking a little gentler on the earth. And ... I did ... lots of them. The only problem was that some of the tips and ideas seemed inconvenient and I found myself saying, "I want to, but ...".

Lately, I've heard others saying the same thing. Perhaps we're just making excuses ... but maybe (and I choose to believe that this is the more probable reason), we just haven't figured out the solutions. So ... today's post is all about the road blocks on the path to living green and how we can remove them. Here are a few of mine and how we've solved the problem:

I want to buy organic ... but it's too expensive.

"Organic" is good for the earth and good for us. But, one trip down the grocery isle will tell you that these products aren't cheap ... and with the economic times as they are, stretching a dollar is important. Some organic items have become competitive, priced similar to their non-organic counterparts ... but the majority are still rather costly. To solve this dilemma, I decided to prioritize my purchases. The Environmental Working Group has put together a handy little list of the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load (items to definitely buy organic) and the lowest pesticide load (items which are OK if non-organic). The list can be found here:

I want to recycle ... but don't have the room.

We try to reuse as many things as possible. Still ... there are times that a can, paper, etc. has served it's purpose and is ready to be recycled. Living in an apartment, I don't have the luxury of a lot of space or an outside area for recycle containers. The neighborhood doesn't have curbside recycling or even large bins for residents. So ... I headed to the local grocery store and picked up a few cardboard boxes. After rearranging our laundry room a bit, we stacked them up and started tossing our recyclables into the appropriate box. They aren't huge boxes and fill up fast, which means frequent trips to the center. It's near our favorite whole foods store, however, so we don't make special trips ... we just grab a box every time we shop. Since I can't accommodate too many boxes, we aren't able to pre-sort everything and do a fair amount of sorting at the center. The entire process isn't perfect ... but it works.

I want to use a reusable shopping bag ... but can't remember to take it into the store.

We all know how bad plastic bags are for the environment. Reusable bags are so much kinder to the earth. I have four of them, which is enough for anything I'm liable to purchase on any given shopping trip. My first challenge was to remember to put them in the car. I hung them on the coat rack ... and looked past them. I put them on top of my shoes and actually picked them up and moved them so that I could finish getting dressed. Finally, I set them under my car keys ... and that worked. By the time I grab for the keys, I'm ready to go so ... grabbing the bags and returning them to the car (where they live) is no problem. But then, once in the car, I'd forget to take them into the store. Ugh! I'd get into the checkout lane and remember that I didn't have my bag. Then ... I had an "aha" moment ... I simply told the cashier that I wasn't going to use a bag ... that I'd take everything, in the basket, to my car and put it in my reusable bags out there. This has actually become so convenient that I do it on a regular basis now. When one brings a reusable bag into the store, they are typically required to load it themselves ... which seems to slow up the line. So, having the cashier simply leave everything in the basket is quick and efficient. One warning ... when uttering "no bags", you might get a "deer in the headlights" look from the bag "boy" and render him inactive for awhile ... but never fear ... he'll get used to it.

I want to take shorter showers ... but lose track of time.

This one is easy ... a simple kitchen timer, which I keep in the bathroom, reminds me to hurry it up. Awareness is everything!

I want to compost ... but I'm afraid of the smell.

Composting is a fabulous activity. Rather than dumping fruits and veggies into a landfill where, because of a lack of oxygen, it takes years and years to decompose, one can create their own compost bin where tossed items will decompose rapidly. Once nature has taken it's course, the rich dirt can be used in the garden. It's a great idea ... but compost systems take up a lot of room and ... I thought they would smell. I quickly learned that compost bins don't have to be big ... we use an old planter for our bin. And, by keeping a layer of dirt on top, there is minimal smell.

Now it's your turn ... when it comes to green living, what are your "I want to ... but" problems. Share them here and we'll try to come up with solutions. If you're saying to yourself ... "I want to share, but I'm afraid I'll look foolish" ... don't worry. We are all trying to do the same thing ... live greener.

As always ... I would love to hear from you.