April 22, 2008

Reflecting on the Three Rs

* This is what my Flowering Maple will look like when it grows up.

When I was a little girl, Earth Day was often a real celebration for us. My mother consciously taught us environmentalism and sustainability, though she called it "respect for the Earth." So, when Earth Day rolled around, it wasn't just another day. We participated in a tree planting ceremony, a trash pick up day or something of the sort. I wonder now where she found those events for us. They are good memories that have stuck with me, and a tradition I followed through college.

My Earth Day this year has been decidedly less deliberate, but its still been on my mind. We woke before the alarm this morning to the singing of the birds. They were raising such a ruckus - particularly the mockingbird who loves to trill - that we gave up and just got up to enjoy their Earth Day symphony. But, the celebration of the birds and the pretty logo on Google have pretty much been the extent of the external reminders today.

Instead, I've been reflecting a lot on my efforts to be respectful and what my next steps will be. A year or two ago, I began deliberately making small changes in my life to minimize my impact. We were already good about recycling and reusing. So, most of this has been reducing and about the products we use. So far, I've:
- developed the habit of using canvas grocery bags by going back for them when I forgot them
- begun using canvas bags (or no bag) for all my shopping, not just groceries
- created a compost pile (and then researched and re-established it when my original plan failed)
- switched to vegetable-based dish soap, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and shampoo
- minimized chemical use within the house and yard
- focused on spot watering the garden, when a full watering isn't needed (We have no lawn and I try to plant drought resistant plants anyway.)
- looked for local and/or organic produce and free range, chemical-free meat
- limited use of plastic water bottles to when we're out and carry them with me until I can recycle them
- found biodegradable pooper scooper bags and wax paper bags for storage at home to the extent practical
- considered reusable/practical wrapping for all gifts and used them when I came up with one

My goal was to identify little things that I could but that would be simple enough that they'd become a habit, adding them one at a time. It has honestly been much easier than I expected. They are small steps that easily became habit, and quite frankly the rule all along was that I'd be gentle with myself on those days I fell short of my goals. (I'm assuming I'm more likely to actually do these things most of the time if I don't make it about guilt or set the bar too high. Every little bit makes a difference, right?)

But, I haven't seen or heard anything new recently to move on to my list. We dream of a 'green' home at times, but I'm definitely not up for any major retrofitting at this point. And the problem that bothers me most is the one on which I've made the least progress - our water consumption. This is Florida, and fresh water is precious. (Again, I'm not ready for the retrofitting, so I will not be draining my washer from the second floor to the garden.)

So, I think I'll be spending my Earth Day evening researching. Any suggestions for where I should be looking? (Or for changes I could be making?)

1 comment:

Brit said...

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