1.12.2009

Supermom Series: THE ECO MOM

I have really been wanting to feature other Moms' tips and ideas for keeping their lives in order and their homes clean. So I picked a handful of Moms that I admire, and decided to do a Supermom Series! Each post will offer a unique viewpoint, advice, and tips—from the Working Mom to the Eco Mom. And the Eco Mom is just who I am featuring today:

This is Emily and her beautiful family. You can find her blog HERE. Emily has a knack for Going Green, and shares how you can, too!

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I love the concept of Gradually Going Green. I think we women are often too hard on ourselves. The very thought of having to completely overhaul our lives to "Greenify", proves to be too daunting. But Gradually? That, we can do. No deadline-No anxiety-No guilt.
So, how do we start the baby steps toward an eco-friendly lifestyle? For this mama, I had to begin really small.
I was newly pregnant with my first, when cleaning one day. Suddenly the fumes were much more pungent than I had remembered. I about tossed my cookies. I knew that scrubbing with chemicals was probably not the best for the environment, my health, or my baby's- so I decided to try an alternative. I found an all-natural recipe for a vinegar based cleaner and tried it. I was surprised at how well it worked, and even better--how cheap it was to make! For someone on a tight budget, that was a HUGE bonus.
Well, a tiny shift happened- but it certainly wasn't a complete change over night. I didn't throw out my Windex, switch to organic food, and swear off energy sucking appliances right away. I did give away many of my cleaners to people I knew would use them, but finished the others out. It didn't make sense to just chuck everything---as they would then be sitting in a landfill, leaching into the earth anyway. As I ran out of my toilet, window and floor cleaners, I replaced them with homemade or purchased natural alternatives. This took an entire year-- Baby Steps.
It's been 2 years since I started on the path to going green. I've by no means "arrived", but I have become aware of the benefits personally and globally to these seemingly small choices. Call me selfish, but I had to understand that being more ecologically responsible is not a sacrifice. I need to think of it in terms of how I benefit from it--and then making it a game. "How long can I stretch the life of this paper towel roll?" or "Can we put more into the recycle bin than the trash this week?". This kind of thinking alters the way we consume and makes eco friendly purchases more intuitive. Remember, one change at a time helps solidify a more permanent lifestyle shift!

Babysteps to Try- One makes a difference.
-Utilize Freecycle.org or Craigslist.com. Keep you home clutter free at the same time you help our economy.
-Shop with Reusable bags. Cuts down on petroleum used for plastic bags.
-Wash all clothing in cold water. The hot setting isn't enough to disinfect anyway and cold saves up to 80% of the energy.
-Forget plastic water bottles. Use Stainless Steel instead. A biproduct I love about this one is the taste. Traditional bottles make water taste Plastic-like. Not so with stainless steel.
-Try cloth diapering--even if for only 1/2 the day. This one may seem crazy, I know. But I can tell you it's not like the old days. Modern cloth diapers are just as easy to use as disposables and don't take 500 years to biodegrade. Plus, you'll save a chunk of change. Seriously. A lot of money. Trip to Anthropologie anyone?
-If using disposable diapers, make sure to flush the #2's. Sound strange? Laws state that bio hazardous (and all human) waste is not to go in our landfills . You can find directions to flush on diaper packages for this reason. Bonus: Diaper bins become less stench-y : )
-Make sure all Windows & Doors are weather-stripped and sealed.
-Donate or recycle your electronics. Domestic violence shelters for battered women are always in need of cell phones.
-Place electronics on a power strip and turn off when not in use. This is especially true for kitchen, computer and media equipment--otherwise known as Voltage Vampires-sucking both energy and money from your pocket.
-Try the 80/20 rule. Choose reusable products such as napkins, plates and dish towels at least 80% of the time. For the other 20%, look for processed-chlorine-free (PCF) recycled-paper goods with the highest post-consumer-waste (PCW) content possible.
-Support Local Farmer's Markets.
-Use biodegradable laundry detergent and dish washing liquid. A plumber recently told me traditional detergents can corrode your pipes in a matter of years. That gets expensive to fix.
-Utilize online bill pay and forgo the mail. This simplifies life in so many ways.
-Opt out of the phonebook. Qwest customers can call the Dex Directory Source, at 800-422-8793, and request to opt out of receiving a phone book.
-Wrap your water heater with insulation.This can keep as many as 1,000 pounds of CO2 a year out of the upper atmosphere.
And Finally, -Shut off your computer every night. This can save you over $90 a year. Also, shut it down if you don't expect to use it for the next two hours. Turn off the monitor if the lag is going to be at least 20 minutes.

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Hily Moore said...

Thank you for this. Being a "green mom" is something close to my heart also...so much so that I hang my clothes to dry and do not own a dishwasher, it's tiring, but I feel so good not using extra energy.

Alison Taber said...

Actually the modern dishwasher uses only half the energy and one-sixth of the water and less soap than washing by hand.

Emily Ruth said...

Good points ladies! One thing I forgot to put on the list is to try opening your dishwasher halfway through the dry cycle to let them air dry. This does save a bit of energy and you get the benefits of modern technology at the same time.
See, I knew there were tons of Eco moms out there: )

Nash said...

Loved this. looking forward to the rest of the posts.

Lyndsay said...

Did you know that front-load washers can easily save over $100 per year in energy costs, and they use 1/2 as much water (or more, in some cases). Because they use less water, they also require up to 68% less electricity to heat the water, resulting in more energy savings. And they are gentler on clothes!

We also bought a toilet that has 2 flush buttons (like in Europe). That way you aren't using so much water if you just go #1. :)

april kennedy said...

I love this idea. And I was really excited to see that I was doing quite a few of the things mentioned. This past year I insisted on moving the large recycling bin right outside the kitchen/garage door. Now each week the recycle bin is bulging at the seems while our garbage has room for more. It was amazing how much easier recycling became when I didn't have to walk as far to throw it away!

Thanks for the tips and the reminders!

Lyndsay said...

OK, I know I keep commenting on comments, but as everyone leaves great comments, I keep thinking of ideas, too. :) Per April's comment, I keep 2 trash cans that are the same size side-by-side in the kitchen (trash and recycling). It makes it SO much easier to recycle. Hubby gets to tote out the full can o' recycling to the big bin. We recycle way more that way because it's sitting right there in our immediate space.

Shorty said...

Thank you so much for this post! I love the information and your new series idea. Can't wait to try out the homemade product recipes!

melmck said...

awesome, awesome, awesome. thanks for the unintimidating advice!

KatieJ said...

Thanks for all the great ideas- I can certainly try a few of those that I'm not doing already. (Cloth diapers and flushing, well I'm not quite "there" yet) But I can't wait to try the homemade cleaning products!

Babeich said...

I hope that the day that I become a mom, I am as awesome as you and the women who read your blog. I am definitely being "mentored" via blog by the best. :)