Are You Trying to Be Green?

So I won something! I wrote a comment on one of the Green Daily blogs and I won Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food book. It looks like an utterly fascinating read about food in America. I’m sure I’ll report back once I’ve read it to let y’all know if it’s worth your time. 🙂

On to the main point of my post . . . Sometimes it’s hard to gauge what to do next to live a green life. Often, money gets in the way. Who can afford solar panels to power your house when they’re still so expensive? The good news is that there are a lot of ways to go green that actually save you money and don’t cost you much (if anything at all).

A couple weeks ago I found this list of 35 Low Cost Ways to Green your Lifestyle. I think it’s pretty comprehensive as far as low cost solutions to being green. I think I may try to use this list as a check list of things to try to achieve. So far we are already doing 18 of the things of the list (2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 13, 17, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35) and I would like to shoot for a lot more. There are a couple of them that I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, like getting new weather striping for our doors and windows (which ends up saving us a lot of money on our utility bills) and getting a rain water bucket to water our yard (which on a rainy day like today, actually seems worthwhile).

For those of you living in Austin, if you don’t have a programmable thermostat, shame on you! Austin Energy gives them away and installs them for free!

So what cheap things are you guys doing to live a green life? What is hard for you and what is easy?


  1. Posted August 19, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    Austin gives away free programmable thermostats? That’s great!!

    We are renting at the moment, so many of the items on the list would require “additional approval” from our landlord. Still, we do what we can, and still have room to improve.

    I’d love to line dry my clothes. I used to love hanging clothes with my grandmother growing up. I’m trying to think of ways of installing a line without making it look tacky…

    Some things that we are doing is trying to plan our errands so that we’re not driving all the time. This month isn’t working out so well.

    Recycling cuts down on the trash cost, we use cloth diapers/wipes when the kid’s not in daycare, use cloth for as many things as possible, making our own cleaning products.

    The biggest thing: we’re cutting down on buying stuff. That always saves money. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    Sheri – Austin Energy is pretty amazing in all of the services that they offer their customers. . . Another reason I love living in Austin!

    Yeah I struggle with line drying. We have so little free time to get laundry done that it seems like line drying would take more time than we have available. Bad excuse, I know. 😦

    It does make a big difference to group all of your errands together in one trip, instead of driving back and forth from your house. We try to do that when we can.

    Recycling is awesome – I can’t wait for Austin to roll out their new recycling system where you can recycling all of the plastics in one bin and you don’t have to sort out the paper.

    I have a great post that I’m planning on doing about making your own cleaning products. It’s so cheap and so easy! It amazes me that everyone doesn’t do it.

    I’d love to know more of what you do with the diapers. I read an article once talking about how bad diapers are for land fills, not only because they don’t biodegrade, but the human fecal matter spreads disease. No one reads on the diaper cases that you’re supposed to flush that, not throw it away. The options that I’ve seen that I like the most (but sadly is the most expensive) are GDiapers because you can compost the wet diapers and flush the stinky diapers.

    Cutting down on buying stuff is huge. We are such a consumer oriented culture. If we just don’t buy stuff, then we won’t have to throw away the packages, throw away the item . . .etc etc.

  3. elliek
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I was actaully surpised with how many things on the list we already do (although there are still a lot that we don’t).

    I promised myself that I would never line dry my clothes. We had to do that when we lived overseas and it always really bothered me that my clothes were so stiff. Plus they get really wrinkled so it creates extra work ironing. We used to have to iron even our jeans!

    I’ve actually read quite a bit about disposable diapers. My mom used cloth diapers on us (as I get old I realize more and more stuff that she did that was green, but she never really talked about it, I think it was all just the way they did it. She’s from northern California and when I was growing up we were in Portland and I think most people are just green). Anyway, I think that when we have kids we will probably go the cloth diaper way. There’s a place here in Austin where you can go and they sell cloth diapers and they also have a bin of used cloth diapers that you can get diapers out of for free (they are all washed and stuff so it’s really not gross). Anyway, you are actually supposed to empty out disposable diapers in the toilet just like you would cloth diapers but no one ever does that – so there’s this ridiculous amount of human feces going into our landfills which is disgusting and very unsanitary! Jeremy isn’t quite on board with the cloth diaper thing but I think once we have kids and we start off like that it won’t be a big deal….wow, I just wrote a lot!

  4. Elizabeth
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah, it bothers me that people don’t know that you’re supposed to flush the fecal matter from the disposable diapers down the toilet.

    If I remember correctly, my mom told me she used cloth diapers on me but disposable on my brother. Hopefully, by the time we have kiddos, the GDiapers will be cheaper because they have the ease of disposables and the environmental sensibility of cloth (if not more since you don’t have to use the washing machine). We will see.

  5. Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yes, I do love the G diaper idea, but the frugal side of me just can’t embrace it. 🙂

    Cloth diapers really aren’t as disgusting as people think they are. Oh, my goodness – they’re SO different from what they used to be. They’re so cute now – becoming very trendy. Since you sew, making them would be easy (and fun) for you, whenever you guys decide to start to extend your family.

    We have a diaper hose that hooks up to our sink and I rinse the nastiness from the diaper into the toilet. There is extra laundry involved, but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.

    Okay now I’ve written a lot. Diapers are kind of my soap box… and that is very sad. 🙂

  6. Elizabeth
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    No, thank you Sheri! I appreciate learning more about this as someday I will most likely be confronted with these decisions. I also like to help educate my many friends that are faced with these diaper decisions now. So please, share away!

  7. cooperella
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I think all children should come potty trained, so that diapers are never necessary. (a girl can dream, can’t she?)

    Ellie, maybe an option would be to line dry & then fluff in the dryer so you only have to do 10 or 20 min instead of a full hour? I suffered the euro dry thing too – I swear, something is in their water that makes the clothes more stiff (maybe they don’t have water softeners like in the US?). Growing up my mom line dried ALL the time, and our clothes were never half as stiff as they were in Italy! I’m dying to get a line put up in my backyard. It seems like such a contradiction (and energy suck) to have the dryer creating insanely hot air while simultaneously running the a/c to cool the house.

    For those in the area, Austin also has a great low-flow toilet program. If you’ve got a 1.6 gal or older model (1996 or older), they will give you a free low-flow toilet and all the installation materials, plus a credit ($60) towards the installation. OR… you can pick your own toilet from the approved list (there are probably 100 models on the approved list) and they will reimburse you up to $200 for it. There are also solar panel rebates, free hvac inspections & all sorts of other homeowner incentives to take advantage of. It’s pretty awesome.

  8. Posted August 19, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I {heart} Austin so much! Thanks for sharing Mindy. I don’t think we qualify for the low flow toilet thing, but it reminds me that we need to do something to reduce how much water our toilets use. Can’t you put a brick in the tank to reduce your water usage?

    Truthfully, what I really would like to have is a dual flush toilet. I saw one when I was at an architect’s office in Dallas and I got so excited about it (how dorky, right?) and almost interrogated the architects about where I could find one for my house. 🙂 Oh, but the price. Again with the money!

  9. elliek
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    They totally have the dual flush toilets at Home Depot (I think that’s where I was) anyway, I thought they were so cool!

  10. Elizabeth
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    OK, I just got really excited because I thought to myself “could you retrofit an existing toilet to be dual flush?” and I did a quick search.

    I can’t tell if these companies are legit though.

  11. Posted August 19, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

    ok first of all thanks for introducing me to that green daily blog! i love it! secondly, thanks for this list of 35 ways to be more green. i am trying so hard to be more green and i am failing miserably. is it that i am too lazy? or that i am too comfortable in my life as it is? or is it that change is just too hard? whatever the reason, i need to really need to try harder 🙂 and third of all thank you for all of your super nice comments on my blog lately! they make me smile a lot!

  12. Posted August 19, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I just had to chuckle at your story about the architect and the dual flush toilet. I love it. I could definitely see myself getting giddy over something like that…

  13. Posted August 20, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    Another thing that I do, which wasn’t on there is run things during off-peak hours. For instance, I don’t do laundry or run the dishwasher, etc between the hours of 4 and 8pm since that is a high usage time. We normally do that stuff later at night — like running the dishwasher when we go to bed.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] option but they’re SO much more expensive that this was an easy win for Camelpak! And we can cross off item #22 on the 35 Low Cost Ways to Green Your […]

  2. […] Review, Books, In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan |   I finally got around to reading the book I won last year, Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. I’ve been hearing more and more about […]

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