Every Earth Day, I revisit my list of what my family does to cut carbon emissions and use fewer natural resources. What are we doing and what can we add to that list? We’re not perfect, but we try to do what we can.
Here are our Top 5 Things To Show We Love The Earth (and you can do them too):
Part of our community trash pickup includes recycling at the curb. They accept #1 and #2 plastics, aluminum, glass, mixed paper, and cardboard. Every week, our bin is full!
In addition to that, we recycle our #5 plastics (storage containers, yogurt cups, etc.) at Whole Foods. They participate in the Gimme Five program where you just drop your containers into a bin in front of the store. Preserve melts those plastics down to make toothbrushes, razors, tableware, cutting boards, and lots of other useful products.
Giant and Whole Foods also recycle plastic bags. So, we save plastic packaging and turn that in. We don’t have that many plastic shopping bags because we bring our reusable ones whenever we go into a store. Reusables aren’t just for the grocery store 😉 But there are plastic bags used in packaging that are definitely worthy of being recycled.
And Whole Foods composts too. Inside the store, they have recycling and compost bins. I drop off my waxed cardboard containers (i.e. ice cream and milk cartons) and rubber bands there.
Home composting isn’t as bad as it sounds. We collect the fruit and veggie trimmings, egg shells, banana peels, coffee grounds, and tea bags to turn them into rich, black soil. Well, we don’t perform the metamorphosis, nature does that for us. We just help the process along.
Composting doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to buy a fancy collection bin or a composting barrel. I found a small plastic trash container and keep it under the kitchen sink. When it’s time to be emptied, out to the far corner of our backyard we go. Mix in some leaves leftover from fall and sometimes shredded paper (a great way to get rid of receipts!), and Voila! It’s all converted, with some time and lots of help from our worm friends, into soil.
I use our compost for planting veggies and making our blueberry and blackberry bushes happy.
Between recycling and composting, the amount of trash our household contributes to the landfill is one 13 gallon bag every other week, sometimes less!
3. Collect Rain Water
We’ve had our rain barrel for about 6 years. We bought it from the Blue Ridge Eco Shop (so disappointed to hear that they’re closing). It holds 60 gallons and usually fills up in one rain storm.
The barrel sits on a paver base and the down spout empties into the top of it. There is a screen, so no mosquito problem. We usually use the spigot on the side to fill a watering can or bucket and water our indoor and outdoor plants.
It’s about time to reinstall the rain barrel. It spends the winter under our deck. But freezing temperatures are now over, so we’ll get it into place soon. In the fall, we use up the water by filling our toilet tanks with it. We could do this all spring and summer too. Maybe that’s something to add for this year. The water is clean – not potable – but clean enough to flush toilets.
Speaking of toilets… We decided to save water there too. We filled a 1/2 gallon plastic milk jug with water and placed it inside our toilet tank. So, instead of 1.6 gallons, we’re only using 1.1 gallons per flush. And the toilet works just fine. Multiply that times 3 toilets in the house and the savings really add up fast!
We added a flush mechanism to one of our toilets where there are 2 buttons – one for less water, and one for more. So, it caters to your flushing needs. It works great.
Our reel mower is quiet, doesn’t give off any fumes, never needs any gasoline or oil, and cuts our yard just fine. The only maintenance it requires is to keep it dry (no rust, please) and sharpen the blades every once in a while.
We used to have a lawn maintenance company but decided to quit using all of those chemicals and fertilizers. Our grass hasn’t really missed it. Dandelions have made a comeback this year, so we just dug them up with our trusty spade. They don’t go into the compost – never put weeds or yard trimmings in your compost. Weeds go into a different pile to decompose.
Our lone power tool for lawn work is the electric weed whacker – mainly used for edging by my husband.
I hope these have given you some ideas to use in your home. We all can do small things that add up to make a huge difference.
What is your family doing? I’d love to hear your ideas!