Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Earth Day...came and went and I forgot all about it. Went to the library with the kids, met with a landscape architect and dreamed up grand plans for our little patch of earth, cleaned up the house over, and over, and OVER. And then when the kids were in bed, I flipped on the TV and caught an Earth Day PBS special. And I have one thing to say: NO MORE PLASTIC FOR US. Now, I know that I do this all the time...I get really fired up about something, and make drastic promises, and then I don't keep them. Like the time I read Fast Food Nation, with my book group back in Boston. I was so astonished at the state of the fast food industry, and the meat packing industry, that I swore it off, publicly. I was never going to let my children eat another Happy Meal, and we would never consume another hamburger...EVER! And then after about a month, or maybe two, we were desperate. It was a road trip, the kids were starving. Can't remember the details, but the end result was ground meat and plastic playground equipment. However, I will tell you that our fast food consumption has probably dropped by 95% since I read that book. We do it once every other month...if that. I would say that if they do get it, it's from Grandma. And this is one battle that is not worth picking when it comes to grandma battles. Also, we buy organic ground meat. I would like to some day be able to buy a share of a cow, and grind our own beef, but I wonder if the electricity costs, of having to purchase a separate freezer to store all the meat, outweigh the pros of having control over your meat. So, long story short...not perfect on keeping my well-meant-promise, but maybe something is better than nothing. And so it goes with Earth Day... I am fired up!! I watched Oprah's Earth Day Special, which was like adding kerosene to the fire. So now, here are my thoughts about the changes I would like to see my family make:

1. No more plastic

  • grocery bags
  • Tupperware
  • Ziploc
  • water bottles

( did you know that there is a garbage dump in the Pacific Ocean that is the size of Texas! It stretches from California to J A P A N! It is 90 feet deep in some spots! And the MAJORITY of it guessed it- plastic! And guess who's eating it? Our fish- T H A T- W E- E A if that doesn't scare you????),0,7842752.special

    Currently, we reuse plastic grocery bags to clean out the litter every day. Not sure what we'll do there. Don't want my trash, or hands (Dalton's actually) stinking. We go through a ton of water bottles, with all of the sports the kids play, but from now on it's personal water bottles (the safe ones). And as for Tupperware, and Ziploc, it's all about Dalton's lunches and left overs being stored. I am moving over to tins for him and glass for the house. (see my sidebar) is giving big discounts on all this stuff, and I plan to take advantage of it. There is even a company that makes containers out of trash, like old Capri Sun containers (Awesome!)

    2. School Field Trips to the dump. Let 'em see where all those toy wrappers, and juice box containers go!

    3. G Diapers ...I've used them and hated them. But he was a new born then, with poop gushing out of him at what seemed like 15 minute intervals. Blow outs nearly caused me to pull out my own hair. I did not want to mess with my fragile state of sanity, so I chose disposable. But, with G Diapers, I feel a little kinder to the Earth. AND I plan on potty training Garrett, like the rest of my kids, at age 2ish (I know, just cause I put it out there, he is now going to be my kid that poops in a diaper until he's 16- Murphy's Law). I did read this:

    Until a child is toilet-trained, usually by 3 years of age, it is estimated that
    a baby uses six
    to ten diapers each day - this translates to about 2,000 to
    3,000 diapers each
    year. -University of Virginia Health Center

    And so, I know it's not life-altering, but if I cut out just a half of a year of diapers, it adds up to be about 1500 diapers out of the landfill.

    4. Composter for our table scraps

    5. Vegetable and herb garden (can't wait...we- uhm, I mean Gavin, built a gorgeous (from a kit) cedar bed last fall). Can't wait to plant heirloom zebra tomatoes, fresh purple basil, snap peas, carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers!

    6. PLANT TREES! We are going to pull out two Hawthorns that are way too close to our foundation, but replace them with five beautiful new trees. I am going to let each family member choose their tree (from my list of gorgeous trees) and then we'll place a rock with the child's name at the base of the tree, so they will know it's theirs. They can help to care for them while they are small. I am thinking a "red bud" tree outside Shelby's window, for hers:

    a flowering pear for Garrett:

    a flowering crab apple for Dalton:

    a purple Maple for myself:

    and maybe a cherry tree for Gav:
    I know it's a lot of pink, but it's just for the spring, and then the leaves come out, and the fruit pops. Plus, right now we have SOOO much green. 70 year old Maples, and Elms that line the property, so I think that the pink and white will balance it out.

    We had an Energy Audit done on our home a few months back, and we are in good shape. New insulation in the attic, new furnace and thermostat, and weather stripping are among the improvements we've made over the past three years in this home. And while our single pane windows are not the most efficient, they are antiques, so they are going to stay. There's only so much you can do to an old home. But we can do this:

    7. Energy Star dishwasher

    I am hoping to do this one at the same time we REDO OUR KITCHEN...I hope, I hope, I hope!

    So, there you have grand, green, sustainable plans for 2009. Let's hope the steam in this train (powered by wind and sun, of course!) doesn't run out before they all come to fruition!

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