I had a very interesting conversation with one of my closest friends the other day. During it, I discovered that she thought I was all natural and into saving the environment. Although now I am definitely more eco-friendly, I didn't start out becoming that way to save the earth! The real reason we do the things we do is to save money, plain and simple. However because of the changes we've made to our lifestyle, we've come to realize that we are indeed nicer to the environment than most and we're kind of liking it now!
How did it start? We had a baby. We realized we didn't want to put baby into daycare. However we could not live off of my husband's salary alone, so we were forced to cut where we could. First change - cloth diapers. I know, I know, but they are not like the cloth diapers of yesteryear, I promise! In fact, they are now ridiculously cute. So much so that at one point I thought I was actually going to be spending more than if we were to have used disposables! I am a bargain shopper so I scored some great deals off of eBay for brand new cloth diapers. I bought 10 of them for $11 each, which was a savings from the $16.96 regular retail price! The best part about that purchase - I sold them a few months ago for $10 each on diaperswappers.com!!!! Isn't that fantastic? I've also bought several off of diaperswappers which is the best way to try out the different styles of cloth diapers. I'm telling you, these aren't the white squares that you use pins for. They are CUTE and easy to use. So after switching to cloth diapers, we learned that the average disposable diaper takes up to 500 years in a landfill to decompose. 500 years. Think about all of the disposable diapers you've thrown away....yeah, it adds up. Then you add in the poop in the diaper. That's not good. We're throwing poop into our landfills which means the birds and flying bugs that frequent our landfills could be contaminated with the bad stuff that happens with poop. Yuck.
So, that's what started us off. With the cloth diapers came a clothes line. The diapers last longer if you don't blast them in the heated dryer, so we started hanging them to dry. And imagine my surprise when the sun got rid of the stains! Wow, who knew? So, we started paying attention. If our diapers would last longer, then obviously our clothes would last longer, so we started hanging our clothes out too. If you have an "old-fashioned" electric meter, go take a look at it spinning around super fast when your clothes dryer is running and then look at it when it's not. That look helped us realized we needed avoid the dryer as much as possible. Since we moved back into our house the last week of March, I think we've used our dryer maybe 10 times and part of that was because we had tons of laundry we had to do and it was raining!
Other things we do:
- unplug things that we don't use all the time - toaster, cell chargers, coffee pots, hair dryer, etc. WAIT, did you just say coffee pot, hair dryer and cell phone charger? Yes, I did and yes, we use them every day, however we don't leave them plugged in when not using them. It really wasn't that difficult to get in the habit. Now, as soon as I pour the last cup of coffee, I unplug the coffee maker. When finished drying my hair, I now automatically unplug the dryer.
- Use the quickest setting on the dishwasher and turn it off as soon as it hits the dry part of the cycle. I certainly don't need to pay for 20 minutes of electricity just to have heat setting not even dry my dishes all the way. I open it up and slide the racks out and let them air dry.
- We don't fill up both areas in our dishwasher with the soap. We only use the main one and only fill it halfway up. Good for us, our dishes, the environment, and our wallet!
- We keep our air set at 78. I think we turned it on once in April, but we've had it on recently because it has gotten quite stuffy. We keep the blinds closed where the sun shines in so the heat from the sun isn't working against our a/c. And we use ceiling fans to help circulate the air better
- We eat real food. I know you are wondering how this is friendly to the environment. Well, we don't throw away tons of packaging anymore like we did when we were eating processed stuff. We don't even throw away our vegetable scraps anymore. They go into a freezer bag for when I make vegetable or chicken stock.
- We now grow our own food. Again, cheap and we know what's going in our food. We are therefore not buying food that has been shipped using fuel to get it to it's destination. We buy local as much as we possibly can.
- We use cloth napkins and try to use plates more than once. Obviously if either gets too dirty, then we get a new one! But if I have a plate that I've just eaten a sandwich off of, then I'll brush the crumbs away and put it on the counter for the next meal.
- We buy used clothes. Especially for our growing son! We love consignment sales and stores. I love paying $1-2 per clothes item for my son and love it even more when I'm packing them away again in 4 months because he's outgrown them! We have recently discovered Goodwill and love the prices! Although, my friend has told me that once I start going to yard sales, that I'll think Goodwill is too expensive. :) Still haven't managed to drag my butt out of bed early enough to hit them up yet! I think this friendly to the environment because we are using second hand clothes that could have easily been thrown away and we are not buying new things to add to things that will eventually end up in the landfills.
- We have no TV. Yet more electricity we are not using. And we get to spend more quality time together and use our imagination and find things to do. It's nice. And we do not miss TV at all.
- Oh, I forgot dryer balls! We no longer use fabric softener sheets. Again, it wasn't to save the earth, although we do feel good that we are helping to reduce waste by not using 1-2 dryers sheets per load! We are saving lots of money there...dryer sheets are expensive!
So the bottom line is everything we do is purely selfish! We need to save money and by doing that, we are in turn saving our earth. We are realizing with every choice we've made we are being "earthy" people. We certainly didn't start out that way, but we kind of like where we've come!