I have been thinking on this for a little while. What exactly does it mean to be green? I am not an environmentalist, and I never would have described myself as “green.” But…I do have several “green” habits in my lifestyle. They are mostly reusable products, but I have found that I really enjoy being “green” in these aspects:
- Recycling. This is something we didn’t do before moving to NYC, and we mostly do it here because it’s a law – we have to do it. And yet, as I gather up my recycling on Sunday nights I can’t help but notice how much stuff I would have been adding to the trash. If those items can be reused and recycled, then I am glad to help. But just to be clear – I would probably not be a recycler if I the collection service was not free.
- Cloth napkins. My mom used cloth napkins for special occasions when I was growing up. Once I remember that she made a bunch of homemade napkins and we only used those for a while, but then she gave up. I bought a stack of cloth napkins at a yard sale, and I got a few more included with placemats. I have found that I really like using the cloth napkins, and it also saves on the cost of paper napkins.
- Ziplocs. I wash and reuse my Ziploc bags…except for the ones that had raw meat in them.
- Paper towel. I don’t buy paper towel anymore. I hated the cost and how fast we used it up. This used to drive Ben nuts, until I came up with an alternative. I cut a bunch of t-shirt rags into paper towel-sized portions, and I store them inside the kitchen cupboard. We use them in place of paper towels. I wash them with Ben’s work clothes. If a mess is particularly bad, it doesn’t break my heart to toss them in the trash.
- Cleaning products. I use a bucket and rag to mop my floor. No Swiffer Wet Jet which requires more disposable pads for me! (But if I ever see a good sale, I might pick one up. I read a great post on making reusable Swiffer pads from prefold diapers. I happen to have a lot of those around, and I can make homemade solution to put in the sprayer). I reuse the hand soap dispensers to make my own foamy soap.
- Shopping bags. I save and reuse plastic shopping bags. I try very hard to remember to take my reusable canvas shopping totes, but I must admit this is one of my biggest downfalls. I just forget most of the time.
- Shipping boxes. When someone send us something, I save and reuse the box rather than tossing it in the trash. It’s a little thing, but it saves me money and effort when I need to ship!
So there is my list. I don’t know if that really makes me green. Most of it is pretty insignificant. But that’s what we do, and I suppose it helps a little. While I am not an environmentalist, I do believe that we should be good stewards of what God has given us, including the planet where we live.