Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Green 2009*

Once again, it’s that time for resolutions and resolve. What will it be this year? Lose weight? Climb a mountain? Buy a new car to help out the ailing auto industry? Save money by driving around the clunker for another year?

This year I want to concentrate on being “green.”

I want to help save the world, of course, but I also want to save a little bit of my own “green” and maybe put it in a savings account in the bank.

I already recycle my paper, which helps with the landfill fee, but I think there is more to do.

• Recycle plastics. I try not to buy things in plastic but of course there are many items that are plastic. I have a hard time with the #1 and #2 pete. My county only accepts those two classifications of plastic.

As best I can tell, #1 items would be soda and water bottles, salad dressing bottles and peanut butter plastic jars. Those #2 items would be milk bottles, detergent containers, and those plastic bags you get from Kroger.

My county says on its website that it does not accept the trash bags you buy.

• Save gasoline. Even though the price of gas is below $2 as I write this, I think this is an anomaly and higher prices will be something we will live with. Since I am a bit of a lead foot, I need to change my driving habits. It’s not like there is a bus out here.

Apparently I need to keep a clean air filter. Okay, that’s a husband chore. Other helpful things include proper tire alignment and tire inflation, a tune up (whatever that entails – better leave that one to the husband, too!), slowing down (every 5 mph slower saves gas), smoothly accelerating and decelerating (no more stop and jerk for me!), and not having long idle periods.

I think of those tips, slowing down and accelerating are the ones that are most applicable to me. So in the new year I will practice driving the speed limit instead of going 5-10 mph over and hoping I don’t get a ticket.

• Use less electricity. We heat and cool with electricity, which makes us high electricity users. Even so, a $300 light bill for a 1,700 square feet house seems like a lot.

I already have some items on smart strips, which allow you to completely turn off appliances. I also have compact fluorescent bulbs in many of my lights, but not all. My house is 20 years old and some of my ceiling light fixtures simply won’t work with those CFLs. My husband a few months ago actually broke a CFL trying to get it to fit in the hallway fixture.

I’ve read I should unplug appliances. However, many things take a very long time to power up if they’re completely unplugged. Who wants to miss the first five minutes of a show every evening because you have to wait for the DirecTV to do its count down and reset? Does leaving the TV on all day on the vampire juice setting use more power than if you cut the set on five minutes early? I don’t know and I can’t find the answer.

Another electricity-saving hint is washing only in cold water, but I have problems with clothes souring when I wash only on that temperature. Anyone know how to fix that?

• Buy local. I approve of the eating locally movement and I hope to be a stronger supporter of the local farmers market next year. I would like to buy other locally made products as well, though at the moment I don’t know what those might be.

• Use the library. I am a book hoarder and books find their way to my shelves with ease. The Botetourt County libraries (I serve on the Library Board of Trustees) offer up a veritable smorgasbord of reading materials. From fantasy to nonfiction to World War II histories to literary masterpieces, all are available at the libraries.

The 100,000 item collection has items for any age.

If the library doesn’t have the book you want, the helpful staff will locate it for you and you’ll get it eventually.

The library also has magazines, DVDs and tapes, books on tape, music CDs and Internet access. They even have an occasional movie night.

Your tax dollars already pay for these items, so why not take advantage of one of the best cultural assets the county offers? Save a lot of green, up the library’s use numbers, maybe even learn something. If nothing else, be entertained and feel good about it!

*A version of this was published in my column space in The Fincastle Herald on December 31, 2008.*


  1. Good tips...some new, some known...but always good to be reminded. I wash in cold water all the time and have never experienced the sour you speak of. Sorry I can't help.

  2. What does clothes souring mean? Do you have well water or centralized water? It might have to do with the pH level. Souring sounds like high acidity, so maybe throw some baking soda in.

    One last thing; while biodiesel might be a good alternative to petroleum, it's still a producer of carbon dioxide.

  3. My son Ben is all about recycling. He learned this from school. Sadly, I haven't been as on the ball with being green. Old habits die hard. He has a HUGE garbage bag in his bedroom for everything plastic. Shannon makes a weekly drive to the dump and my kids get a thrill out of throwing the items in the bin.

  4. Redsneakz - clothes souring is a smell like, well, sour clothes. Have you ever left something wet in the clothes hamper a while? It smells like that. Only I've had it smell like that before my clothes even finish the rinse cycle!

    We do have well water so that might have something to do with it. Baking soda is a good idea.

  5. I never heard of clothes souring either. It only happens to me if I forget I washed and leave the clothes in the washer too long. I've never used a dryer. I don't like the energy suck or the way the clothes wear down or shrink. I love my clothesline. In the winter they hang in the basement by the woodstove.

    This past year I finally got reusable shopping bags but I always seem to forget to bring them in the store. I need to get better at that. I want all my dripping faucets to stop leaking on 2009. I think it's a bad fen shui metaphor besides being a waste.

  6. I know what you mean about the clothes. I try to use cold water but every few washes, I need to put them through either hot or warm, depending on the colors. This happens the most for me with towels.

    I line a bucket with Wal-Mart bags and when I pick up the dog poop, I put it in there. I use them to pour leftover wet stuff, like mashed potatoes and gravy, or even grease, that I'm throwing out but don't want to put right in the garbage because it might leak through. I also use them for packing when I ship. And I think you might have read my story, but I've used them to line my rubber boots when I spring a leak so I can get a little more life out of them! Now THAT'S recycling, right? lol


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