Thursday, October 2, 2008

What I'm doing to make it better

I'm trying to continue to focus on work, not worry and translate that to as many aspects of life as possible. As a mom, I look at the world around me and wonder what it will be like for my kids as they get older. I have a lot of hope for them, their peers and the world in general. I know it's hard to escape feelings of doom and gloom when it seems every media outlet is focused on what is going wrong.

So, for today, here's what I'm doing to make it better in terms of the environment.

I've stopped using a lot of harsh chemical cleaners, and found that the simpler ingredients work just as well, if not better. For example, I get my laundry detergent recipe here (I use the powdered one), made at home with ingredients I can find easily at my grocery store. I've started making my own detergent for the dishwasher as well - 1 TBSP washing soda (NOT BAKING SODA) to 1 TBSP Borax. It works better than any I've ever bought. I fill my rinse aid dispenser with vinegar. My laundry is cleaner and softer, my dishes cleaner and free of spots.

I try to combine my trips and map them out in such a way that I can combine errands whenever possible. I use my cruise control on long stretches of my drive and pay attention to areas in town where I don't actually need my foot on the gas pedal to maintain momentum. I was surprised to find how many areas where I have been keeping my foot on the gas when I didn't need to. I've improved my gas mileage (and credit card charges for gas) substantially - and the less gas I use, the better for my wallet and the environment.

We already recycle as much as possible through our city's recycling program, and whenever possible I try to avoid excess packaging. Another bonus of making my own detergents - less waste of packaging.

As the kids outgrow clothing, I'm finding people who will need them and are willing to pay a bit for them (but less than a second hand store would charge) so I know they'll have more life after they leave our home. In our son's case, we've received a lot of hand me downs from a friend, so we're doubly lucky.

We're trying to buy toys that are less likely to break quickly, creating more junk. We're also not buying many toys to begin with. As my daughter has outgrown certain toys and baby items, we've passed them on to my nephew and they are now making their way back to my son. Being more environmentally aware (I'm the last to claim I'm perfect at this) is definitely having an economic impact as well. We've cut back on our spending by a lot.

This time next year, I'd like to be able to say that I spent the summer growing a good portion of our own vegetables and was able to can and freeze many that we'd need for the winter. I also have set a goal of a compost bin to help with that. I hate to see food go in the trash.

It's all little stuff, but hopefully it just keeps adding up.

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