Continuing my count to 100 actions:
16. Biodegradable kitty litter. I don’t know if plain clay litter is bad, but it is heavy, doesn’t last nearly as long, and so more of it goes into landfills. Also I guess it has to be mined to obtain it. My favorite is One Earth™ brand with corncob and yucca. A bag of it seems expensive, but it lasts us up to two months.
17. Yes, it would be greener to not have a cat. That day will come, and then I can concentrate on providing habitat for birds. So #17 is my decision not to replace the little darling when she goes.
18. Birds—in the meantime, one thing is to refuse to fly red-eye—I don’t want to be flying over bird breeding sites at dawn, since I’ve learned it is a critical time for them to communicate.
19. Chocolate. I have gone cold turkey on the major brand of chocolate chips for making cookies (a company I am persuaded doesn’t deserve its profits based on its record). Recently I sucked it up to pay the price for organic, slave-free chocolate chips. Made me appreciate each cookie!
20. Planting native plants and shrinking the lawn. This is ongoing, and admittedly it’s been a struggle to get plants established before the deer hordes destroy them. Or the squirrels, voles, summer drought, and root weevils. Ferns, you are fabulous.
21. My metal water bottle travels with me so I can refuse bottled water. I do filter my tap water at home, and it tastes great. As good as our plain tap water used to taste before they had to start using more chlorine and stuff.
22. Does making a place for a rainwater cistern count? I set aside an area newly reinforced by a retaining wall. I’m holding out for much bigger than a rain barrel, but that will not be a DIY project. Photo caption could be “Cistern Envy.”
23. Energy savings—a bit more this year. I’ve written about getting the daytime thermostat setting down to 65 degrees. Now I’m flirting with 64 when it’s just me at home.
24. Dry cleaning. Only about once a year now. Remember in the film “North by Northwest” where Cary Grant dives into that dusty cornfield just ahead of the machine gun fire but his impeccable wool suit looks ruined? And he gets to the hotel and simply has it “sponged and pressed.” Well, sponging does indeed work.
25. Shorter showers? How about fewer showers instead? I’ve received no complaints, but it’s not summer yet. See “sponging” above!
26. Hand washing things that are marked “dry clean only.” Wool sweaters do great with a vinegar rinse and ironing before they are dry. Admittedly I wear more washable fleece now, but I still love my woollens.
27. Combining trips to do more with less gasoline.
28. Taking the bus for some trips.
29. Taking the train when I can.
30. Simple cleaning agents. I don’t care for the industrial fragrances that come with typical toilet cleaners, window cleaners and the rest, so lightening up on chemicals is easy for me. And “anti-bacterial,” debunked awhile ago as a bad idea, is easy to avoid—I buy my liquid hand soap from the bulk aisle at the food co-op and dilute it in my pump foamers. I’m down to a few simple concoctions, with distilled white vinegar as my main go-to.
31. Going after invasives in the landscape. Ivy creeping up our trees is our personal joy-to- destroy.
32. Eating in-season. I used to buy fresh tomatoes all year long. Now I make do with sun-dried in the winter, not such a bad trade, or skip them and color the salad with red radishes.
33. Preserving foods to extend local sourcing. Freezing blueberries and cherries is my start. Progress to canning this year?
34. I really need to add drying to my preserving repertoire.
35. Composting kitchen scraps and peels.
36. Picking up plastic trash loose on street or beach. I do this some—could do it more.
37. Thanking people who volunteer to do habitat work and other good environmental work. More often than before.
38. Re-use and postpone the need to recycle. File folders, paper printed on only one side, egg cartons, picture frames, good stuffing in throw pillows—lovely feathers or kapok goes into new covers. Polyester batting begone!
39. Reduce packaging. Instead of new plastic jars of nuts, I refill from the bulk food isle.
40. Reduce. Make my own yogurt rather than generate more plastic tubs. My latest batch is perfect in 12 hours. I followed Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Pretty foolproof, although I had one batch that gave me the willies–using unhomogenized milk I got a freaky, wrinkly gummy blanket on top and couldn’t bring myself to eat it.
41. Reduce. Milk in glass jars. So retrograde, but nice. And we have to shake to keep the cream mixed in. Less need for a weight-lifting program.
42. More eating in-season—fruits. Locally grown strawberries are available only about 3 weeks here. But they are GREAT, and the anticipation, the gorging, the memories, last all year long.
43. Good kitchen equipment. So it lasts. I have one crappy broiler pan, twisted from heat and hard to clean, just to remind me what bargain items really are. I have knives 30 years old that I still love. And cookware with the right weight, balance, heat conduction, that are a pleasure to cook with, and show no signs of wearing out. Denby stoneware, likewise 30 years of every day use and still going. My husband led the way on some things and gets all credit. It’s not that we had money starting out. But here we found a sale, and there we scrimped. If you could have seen our first apartment. Or for that matter, our wedding! Which we never regretted scrimping on. Not quite true—the photography was only good for a laugh.
44. Less plastic by thinking ahead. The local shellfish grower likes to put your order into a thick, huge plastic bag with ice. Last time I was there I handed over a lidded tub I’d brought and we skipped the bag.
45. Home painting--re-using turpentine/thinner after the paint settles to the bottom. Giving away unused latex paint, or drying it out before tossing it. Checking out low VOC for next interior paint. Though I must say, what can provide the 15 years that we’ve got from our last interior paint? This is a consideration when the labor of painting gets more difficult to do ourselves.
46. Toilet paper—recycled fiber, unbleached, in big individually paper-wrapped rolls. This costs more, but hey, a new market doesn’t create itself; it needs us. I scarcely can think of any one green thing I feel happier about doing—the dioxins from the bleaching process are so nasty it is a wonder the process hasn’t been banned. I like to think my greener purchases have the conventional producers worried—why else would they keep lowering their prices on the jumbo packages that I see being carted out of stores?
47. More cooking. When we’re making sauerkraut (we gave ourselves a nice crock for Christmas), or omelets, or pie crust, or whatever it is, we’re opening fewer cans, boxes, jars, and we are eating better, too.
48. I almost forgot. I left something hanging in my first post, the 2009 “potholes” about replacing light bulbs where there was a dimmer switch and a baffling wiring mess. I did in the last year get an electrician in, who took out the dimmer in the main (area) lights in the kitchen so I was able to change 6 incandescents to CFLs. And wasn’t it nice to have him also replace several outlets a foot off the floor rather than folding my frame into position to do it. Now the vacuum cleaner actually stays plugged in. He also checked my work on the new ceiling fixtures I installed in 2010. Peace of mind.
49. Activism. Working for a greener “commons,” because individual green choices don’t touch some problems. This is new to me, but feels good and necessary.
50. Not stressing. At least for me, the best way to sustain my efforts is not to expect a perfect record. If I backslide, I just begin again. If I’ve my hands full making dinner and don’t want to wash eggshells, that time they go in the garbage instead of the compost. The trend is what’s important to maintaining my efforts, and the trend is greener and greener.