What green actions do I still do?

About a year ago, I added a feature to my blog (over in the right-hand column) listing what we do to live greener. With a new year underway, I thought it was a great time to revisit this list and see what we’re still doing.

If you’re new here, the links will take you back to some of the relevant posts on each of these topics.

1.    Hang laundry to dry – SORTA – I hung laundry all spring, summer and fall, but this winter, I have fallen back on the dryer. I’ve been too busy to do a load each day, which is the best way to have enough space to hang our laundry. And Mr. Cheap loves that his shirts come out of the dryer unwrinkled, so he doesn’t have to iron them. I hung laundry out the other day in our unseasonably warm weather, and I’ll do it again this spring. Downside: Our electricity bill has increased.

2.    Use wind-powered electricity – YES – We still pay to purchase all wind power from Xcel.

3.    Do not accept plastic bags – YES – Very seldom does a plastic bag enter our house — usually only when Mr. Cheap goes somewhere without bags or means to carry separate items home.

4.    Compost food waste – YES

5.    Choose recycled purchases when possible – YES

6.    Recycle paper, cardboard, metal, plastic – YES – And in fact, we are recycling more types of plastic (including tubs and plastic caps) and materials like Styrofoam through special occasional trips to Ecocycle.

7.    Turn off lights we’re not using – SORTA – I always do this; my family is less consistent.

8.    Turn off water while rinsing/brushing – YES – Little Cheap even does this in public restrooms while sudsing her hands.

9.    Use high-efficiency washing machine – YES

10.    Dishwasher – full loads, water saver, turn off dry cycle – YES

11.    Turn refrigerator temp up to 43F – YES

12.    Buy many items used – YES

13.    Recycle, Freecycle, consign, donate instead of trashing items – YES

14.    Use cloth handkerchiefs – YES – We have tissues for others’ use at our home, and we are buying recycled tissues.

15.    Use cloth napkins – YES

16.    Print on both sides of paper and re-use paper before recycling – YES, and we try to reduce printing as much as possible.

17.    Unplug appliances – SORTA – We added a timer to our coffee maker to turn it off when not in use, and we unplug what we can. The computer goes to deep sleep when not in use, and we turn off the TV, Wii and DVD player at a power strip when not in use.

18.    Bring own water bottle & coffee cups – YES – I have invested in more coffee cups (on clearance! — including a BPA-free one for me) to help make this easier.

19.    Grow our own vegetables – YES – and we purchased most vegetables this year from a CSA.

20.    Drive gently to get better mileage – YES – although I don’t know if it really helps!

21.    Reduce hair dryer use – YES

22.    Use low-flow toilets – YES

23.    Flush less – YES

24.    Choose EnergyStar appliances – YES

25.    Add low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators – YES

26.    Get books/movies at library instead of buying/renting – YES – We are careful about what we buy, especially movies, which we realize we don’t watch repeatedly.

27.    Use evaporative cooler, not A/C – YES

28.    Use programmable thermostat to turn heat down at night (55F)/when gone – YES

29.    Use bio-friendly soap – YES

30.    Clean with baking soda and vinegar – YES

31.    Buy organic and/or local foods – YES – We have cut down on coupon usage primarily because we’re more focused on organic and local.

32.    Eliminated subscriptions (1 newspaper, 12 catalogs, 2 magazines, 4 companies) – YES

33.    Choose “cleaner” energy-using appliances – YES – This means using the electric kettle (if you read that linked post, check out the update here, too) over the gas stove burner because our wind-power electricity is easier on the environment than our natural gas stove.

34.    Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs – YES

35.    Make own foods (less packaging) – YES

36.    Buy bulk products & refill to reduce packaging – YES

37.    Wash and re-use plastic bags we do use – YES

38.    Use cloth toilet “paper” – NO – I’ve given this up — it hardly seemed worth the hassle of washing all those little cloths and dealing with odor. We used about 35 rolls of toilet paper in 2008, and we purchase recycled one-ply paper. By these estimates that comprised about 0.13 trees.

39.    Use reusable menstrual products – YES

40.    Use public transportation when possible – NO – haven’t been doing this much. It will cost my husband more and be more inconvenient to take the bus to work, especially when he lugs his “teacher bags” along, so we haven’t done much with this one. We try to walk where we can.

41.    Combine errands – YES

42.    Electric blankets instead of space heaters – YES

43.    Reuse gift wrap – YES – and made my own reusable bags this year.

Phew! I have about a 90 percent consistency rate.

Do you have a green action you’re really proud of? Something hard to do? Something you want to try? Something you wonder about?

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11 thoughts on “What green actions do I still do?

  1. erin says:

    1. Hang laundry to dry – PARTIAL. We hang a lot of the adult clothes but generally use the dryer for kids clothes, towels, cloth diapers, etc.
    2. Use wind-powered electricity – YES
    3. Do not accept plastic bags – YES
    4. Compost food waste – YES. (although we stopped for a few months because we had a kitchen fruit fly problem – we are back to composting now)
    5. Choose recycled purchases when possible – YES
    6. Recycle paper, cardboard, metal, plastic – YES. Actually I am currently saving all rigid plastics and bringing them to a recycling center and it is scary how much comes into our house.
    7. Turn off lights we’re not using – NO. I need to do this.
    8. Turn off water while rinsing/brushing – YES
    9. Use high-efficiency washing machine – YES
    10. Dishwasher – full loads, water saver, turn off dry cycle – NO. We have a super efficient dishwasher and with 5 people in our home, I am not too worried about this one.
    11. Turn refrigerator temp up to 43F – ???
    12. Buy many items used – PARTIAL. This is a mix.
    13. Recycle, Freecycle, consign, donate instead of trashing items – YES
    14. Use cloth handkerchiefs – YES for adults. NO for kids.
    15. Use cloth napkins – YES. I bought everyone napkin rings for Christmas but they are too small and the kids have a hard time fitting the napkin through. I thought it would reduce the number of cloth napkins we washed.
    16. Print on both sides of paper and re-use paper before recycling – YES, and we try to reduce printing as much as possible. (Ditto).
    17. Unplug appliances – NO. All computers power down but I don’t ever think to unplug appliances even though I know they are power vampires.
    18. Bring own water bottle & coffee cups – YES! Always. I actually won’t get a drink out if I don’t bring my own bottle / cup.
    19. Grow our own vegetables – YES
    20. Drive gently to get better mileage – NO
    21. Reduce hair dryer use – NO (actually I used my hair dryer for the first time in 5 years and it was a disaster so I think I will put it away for another 5 years).
    22. Use low-flow toilets – YES (we just added a bathroom to our house and got a dual flush toilet.
    23. Flush less – YES
    24. Choose EnergyStar appliances – YES
    25. Add low-flow showerhead and faucet aerators – YES
    26. Get books/movies at library instead of buying/renting – YES. We love hulu.com and Netflix instant viewing.
    27. Use evaporative cooler, not A/C – NO.
    28. Use programmable thermostat to turn heat down at night (55F)/when gone – NO – our family is not yet ready for this. We do have a programmable thermostat but we don’t turn it down that low.
    29. Use bio-friendly soap – YES
    30. Clean with baking soda and vinegar – ahem…i don’t clean…but our lovely cleaning person does use earth friendly supplies.
    31. Buy organic and/or local foods – YES
    32. Eliminated subscriptions (2 catalogs, 2 magazines) – NO
    33. Choose “cleaner” energy-using appliances – YES I think.
    34. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs – YES
    35. Make own foods (less packaging) – YES
    36. Buy bulk products & refill to reduce packaging – YES
    37. Wash and re-use plastic bags we do use – NO – generally I am not so good at this one.
    38. Use cloth toilet “paper” – NO but having kids who are just transitioning out of diapers I could totally picture doing this.
    39. Use reusable menstrual products – NO but it is on my list.
    40. Use public transportation when possible – NO. We walk or bike where we can.
    41. Combine errands – YES
    42. Electric blankets instead of space heaters – NO – in my mind I beleive these are bad for your body (something about EMF interfering with your body.)
    43. Reuse gift wrap – YES – and made my own reusable bags this year, too. I did use the last of my rolled paper for relatives.

  2. L'an says:

    That’s funny about Mr. Cheap and the ironing. I, too, hate ironing, and am looking forward to the warmer weather so I can hang laundry out to dry again; for me, I seem to need to do *less* ironing when I air-dry, but that’s probably because the warm clothes tend to sit in the drier and get really wrinkled before I get around to folding them. As for you, it hasn’t been terribly practical for me to do a load a day, and this time of year, it seems that’s the most efficient way to do laundry. I don’t air-dry in the house because there’s not really a good space to set out the laundry.

    I’ve been making a real effort lately to be efficient about our food usage (more a budget thing than a green thing) and was delighted to peer into the fridge today and discover that it is practically empty–just in time for our winter CSA pickup on Wednesday!

  3. Diane says:

    Grocery clerks in my neighborhood sometimes look at me funny when I say I don’t need my purchases in a plastic bag. Really– I can carry a half dozen bananas or a gallon of milk for two blocks!

  4. cheaplikeme says:

    @ erin – You should get a super YES on the hair dryer if you don’t use it!

    @L’an – My clothes are less wrinkly when I hang them outside, too … but that’s considering I really never iron. His dress shirts are definitely smoother coming out of the dryer.

  5. dinah says:

    Hi there! I followed your link from “Get Rich Slowly”. Nice blog you have going on! I’m always looking for inspiration on ways to be Greener. I’m quite impressed by all you do for our Earth.

    The big thing we have started doing is composting this past summer and we have even continued composting during our frigidly cold Canadian winter.

    Dinah

  6. Condo Blues says:

    My greatest green achievement last year was reducing my home’s natural gas and electricity use last year by 20% – some months I cut it by 50%. Fortunately for me I already started w/ a well insulated house so I did it on the cheap with changing habits and making small upgrades to my house.

  7. Mary q Contrarie says:

    We have found the solution to be able to air drying year round with a portable clothes line drying rack we can just simply move it around the house to keep it out of our way. We also can put it in the garage or on the porch. I also found that by hanging dress shirts directly on the hanger usually they do not need ironing.

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