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.


  1. Someone with ADD is going to get pissed that I wrote this but OH WELL. I dated an ADHD guy on and off for years who could do many things that others with ADHD always said they could not because of the way their brain was wired. Yet, somehow, he could do the things, finish them and finish them correctly. When one of his own children couldn't do as much paperwork as required for school my bf started paying him to do it
    :-). Then he could do it.

    I'd apply that to this also. I do all these things except the short shower, and that is my own fault, since I ADORE long showers. If you paid someone $100 to do each of these things, I bet the "excuses" would dissapear.

  2. These are all great suggestions for anyone wanting to walk gentle on the earth. I would suggest doing little things first like changing light bulbs to the more energy efficient bulbs. Locate your nearest recycling location and plan your trips to town so that you drive past it on a regular basis. This will remind you to recycle and it will change from out of your way to "we can stop on the way to town."

  3. I accept your all ideas.We have to take care to enviroment,we must prevent our old wörld,if we shuldnt prevent some damages,what will leave our children.We havent another different wörld to live,so we have to quard our wörld.Best wishes

  4. these are good! But how about cutting down meat? doesn't that pollute the earth a lot?!

  5. This is a really good post. A lot of the things rang true to my brain, and I'm sure a lot of people can relate. My biggest issue is remembering the grocery bags.

    - Cesia.

  6. I want to always eat vegetarian, but it's more difficult than it seems at times- when you visit people, it's hard to say "I can't eat your food..." so I just eat it (so far I've avoided eating the stuff I NEVER want to eat: pork, veal, lamb...)

    Unless the host asks ahead of time if anyone doesn't eat meat, meat is usually served, and unless it is a "serve yourself" buffet kind of dinner, then the meat is placed on the plate!

    I consider myself a "flexitarian' - since I do sometimes eat meat....

  7. Great post. I'm a master at short showers (well, we are in the middle of a looooong drought here,so there's no excuse) and have got into the habit of carrying my reuseable bags everywhere...but the price of organic food is the one that gets me. I can afford to pay a little extra and am happy to...but I actually think the organic supermarket near me is exploiting customers, I mean...AU$10 FOR A BUNCH OF CELERY?! How can that be?! They also charge a lot more for the same organic products that are sold in "normal" supermarkets, but perhaps that has something to do with how the big stores screw down the prices they pay their suppliers... I dunno. I need to frequent farmers markets, but as I don't have a car, it's an "I want to...but" scenario.

    PS I am still flabbergasted that kerbside recycling is not standard over there!

  8. Again, a great post. I'm going to get those reusable shopping bags this week!

  9. We all a starting point, and you have started and that is what you need to remember.
    I did not always do beach clean ups. I just started them a few years ago.
    I can't always pick through when the marines are here and they are "throwing away money", but I do what I can.
    I love my tub! I have a huge garden tub and I love to soak in it. So on those days I try to cut back on using water else where.
    Just take baby steps and they WILL help trust me!

  10. Really cool post!
    Actually, one of my "I want to's..." is one that you've already stated--"I want to compost."

    I live in an apartment building, which has no composting facility. I was thinking of starting one up in the area beside the parking lot, but sadly, I haven't had the time, nor any idea on how I can get others to participate--except for the few that I actualy talk to while going up and down the elevator every day. Any thoughts?

  11. Great post. I have got all you mentioned down pretty pat. I, like you had trouble with the re-usable bags for awhile. Seems like we have about 6-8 for each vehicle now and if some get left in the house there are still some left in the car. Funny thing I leave them there on occasion too and walk out with a cart full of loose groceries.

  12. When I lived in NYC we had recycling bins for the 'house' apartments that we lived it, they were shared. So in the kitchen we used one of those three drawer plastic towers that you can pick up at any store, Target or Kmart or Walmart. It worked great ... and as it filled up ... we'd just toss stuff into the recycle 'house' bins. Worked great!