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Topic: Going Green One Step at a Time

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Subject: Going Green One Step at a Time
Date Posted: 12/17/2008 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 10,273
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As Kermit would say, "It's not easy being green!" Change takes effort on the part of each of us.

What steps have you taken to go green? You may have done something that others of us have not considered.


On my part, I take my own canvas tote bags to the grocery store. I've been collecting them and have about 10 now of all sizes. Also, take them to other places, ie drug store, Walmart, etc.   It wasn't easy in the beginning to remember to take them into the store with me. After  going back to the car for my bags numerous times, I finally remember.

We also cut our electric bill by turning the hot water heater on for about two hours a day. This is usually enough for the two of us. The curcuit breaker is very accessable so it makes it easy. Reducing energy use even a little helps.



Date Posted: 12/17/2008 10:31 AM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2006
Posts: 4,669
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The biggest change we've made is moving into an apartment over our store... I now only drive the car once eery 10 day sor so... DH drives to his other job 2x week, and gets groceries onthe way home to cut down on car use even more. 

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 10,273
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Good for you. Was the move difficult? How did you handle it?

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2006
Posts: 3,392
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Shutting off the breaker to the water heater is a good idea. I'm going to try it. How long does it take to heat back up?

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 5:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 10,273
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Leah, only about 30 minutes because the water in the tank remains hot, especially if it is insulated.

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 7:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,652
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We collect aluminum cans at our house.  So not much, but it's something, I guess! :)

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/17/2008
Posts: 1
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I recycle everything I can. I turn off lights, unplug chargers etc.

Date Posted: 12/18/2008 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,404
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We use cloth bags.  I had actually started down that path before it became quite so fashionable, after having discovered I couldn't close the door to a closet because of all the plastic bags!

We ride the bus to work.  It isn't just by chance, either--when looking for a house one of our requirements was it be on a bus route.

Programmable thermostat.  Nice to have it cold over night and get up with it warm, too.

Put our gaming setup (TV/sterio/system) on a power strip & flip the switch off when not there.  Double benefit here too--no vampires drawing power and helps protect against surges and similar.

Hibernate my computer while not home.


Date Posted: 12/18/2008 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 10,273
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Angie, every little bit helps.

Melissa, recycling is a biggie. We recycle as best we can. Milwaukee has a lousy recycling program.

Kayote, wow, what a positive step you took as far as house being on a bus route.  Applause. Applause. Applaluse!!!!!

Subject: Going Green - My Soapbox
Date Posted: 12/18/2008 9:41 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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In my opinion, going green is not just replacing things you have with green things, but it's also using up what you have, to the nth degree. If all you do is trade out your floor for a bamboo floor, that means that the environment in your house has fewer chemicals in it, but what happened to your old floor? Did it end up in the dumpster? Was is still usable when you replaced it, or had it fulfilled it's lifespan? Don't throw away decent things just to go green, because you are adding to the landfills that way. Doing pro-active things, like saying no to plastic bags at the stores, and using your own cloth bags, Is going green. Using the solar clothes dryer, the clothes line, is going green, while throwing away your new dryer to get a different one isn't. Since this green theme has started, we have done very little to change our lifestyle. Why? Because we already use what we have as much as we can. We recycle paper, cans, plastic, glass, cardboard of all types and strenghts, etc. through the city and the local university. We are careful when and where we drive, and try to combine errands to nmake the driving more efficient. We share clothing with other families, passing around items when we don't need them. We are part of paperbackbookswap, and share books. :-) We use the library instead of buying books, reading them, and throwing the away. We realized that the newspaper seldom was read, and stopped subscribing several years ago, about 12 or 15 years ago. We try to conserve water. We have programmable thermostat, double-paned windows, use draft dodgers to cover drafts, and so on. We have ceiling fans in every room and I have a solar oven. At stores, I tell them that I don't want a bag, that I will just carry it or use my purse or my canvas bags. My children and husband use the canvas bags also, for all kinds of things. Very often, there is a search aroubnd the house for an unused one so that it can be used! They carry their clothes on sleepovers and vacations in the bags. They put things in them for traveling to do in the car. It's natural for them to look for, instead of a plastic grocery bag. We use cloth napkins - I bought some small towels and they have worked wonderfully over the years. They do need to be replaced now, as the holes are getting to be as big as the napkins, but I am satisfied that they have been used for their life, and look at what I've saved on papernapkins over the past 15 years of these napkins! Look for hints as to saving money and you'll find many hints as to how to go green.

Go, Green!


Date Posted: 12/19/2008 10:45 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 10,273
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You make excellent points. I don't see it as a soupbox at all. Thanks for the post.

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,404
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I took some old clothing beyond repair, cut them up into rectangles, and serged the edges (got a tiny serger at a garage sale. I want a big one now, but they are still so expensive!).   I bought a basket at the local thrift shop, and now we use those instead of paper towels & paper napkins.  My SO was suspicous, but he agrees it works.  We have a small laundry bag in the corner of the kitchen where they go when they are used.

(We do keep paper towels around still.  When we are fostering cats, we decided we'd rather not clean up what comes out of them with our cloth napkins.  Just too squeemish for that.)

I gave away all the sauce packets that came with take out (as I rarely remember to tell them not to send them) to a local gent who does missionary work, and misses American condiments.  We just use what we have in the fridge.

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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I do a little but always looking to do more

  • recycle everything that can be recycled
  • bring my own bags to the grocery store
  • switched to the CFL light bulbs
  • programmable thermostat
  • commute to work is only 3 miles, before it was further and I did take the train and had to drive 5 miles to the station
  • run all of my errands together and map out the most effective route
  • turn off lights when not in the room
  • donate used items that are still usable just not to us

I still have a ways to go but I'm getting a good start I think!

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 5:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2008
Posts: 9,371
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Our big changes this year were to start making our own organic breads (not just for special occasions, but for our daily needs).  To sell the car and NOT replace it until there is actually something worth buying (and unfortunately, we are NOT urban, so this is NOT convenient).  To give our washer and dryer to a needy family, and wait to replace it only if we can't manage without...so far we are able to wash nearly everything in the bathtub and line dry.  I do worry about the water usage, which I know must be higher than a new efficient washer, but we collect extra shower water for the first washes and reuse the rinse waters for washes too...  We also sold our tv and older computer...in a sense they are being reused, even if they are not energy efficient, they are not in the landfill...and we are using a laptop for all our needs...which is much more energy efficient.  These are just things that I recall in our "next steps" 2008. 

Subject: Go, Green!!!!!!!!!!!
Date Posted: 12/20/2008 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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It's great to see all these steps that people are taking. They are not all easy, but each one makes a difference.

THank you.


Date Posted: 12/20/2008 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,290
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We recycle our cans, bottles, paper and  cardboard. 

I bring some cloth bags to the grocery store (I only have 3 but need to get a few more)

Switched to programable thermostat

Switched out our lightbulbs

DH installed a clothes line for me this summer.  We live in New England so I can't dry outside all year long.  But, I purchased a heavy-duty clothes rack that I dry  my clothes on inside.

We compost our food scraps.  Next summer we will start a second compost pile with grass cutting, leaves, etc.

We have a small vegetable garden that did well the past 2 years.  We are going to expand it a bit this coming summer to grow even more things.


Subject: Going Green - One Step at a Time
Date Posted: 1/6/2009 9:52 AM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2008
Posts: 4
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I've tried to cut back on using the electricity these past few months. One thing I do is shut off the microwave. It's plugged into an outlet that happens to have a switch so I just flip the switch on when I want to use the microwave. If you have appliances plugged into a surge power strip they can be shut off by a mere flip of the switch. We have one in our bedroom and I turn if off during the day. The TV and phone is plugged into it. When I turn it back on at bedtime, the phone recharges overnight and the TV is ready when I want to watch it. As soon as warm weather hits I stop using the dryer and hang my cloths outside to dry. Has anyone tried drying clothes outside in the winter?
Subject: One step at a time.
Date Posted: 1/6/2009 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2007
Posts: 14
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All these are great ideas, but remember, they werent all implemented at the same time.  Too drastic of a change will never stick.  Try one new idea every week or every other week.  Getting some reusable tote-bags this week, buying a few flourescent bulbs next week to replace the next bulb that blows, starting a compost bin the following week.  Small changes made slow enough to stick as lifestyle changes are what will help everyone.

Date Posted: 1/6/2009 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 10/15/2007
Posts: 1,037
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Yeah! I  so excited for the new year.

List of things my family did to be a little greener in 2008

  • My husband and I carpool everyday.
  • We sold his truck
  • Switched all light bulbs to energy efficient ones
  • Use paperback swap and Library for books
  • recycle everything we can
  • use cloth bags and if i forget them I take the plastic ones back to the store
  • give away our unwanted items to people in need.
  • turn off lights/ applainces when not in use

It's a start. :) glad of all the participation

Subject: The New, Better Light Bulbs
Date Posted: 1/6/2009 2:09 PM ET
Member Since: 12/16/2008
Posts: 17
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CAUTION: We've replaced all our bulbs, at last, as each went out...but now it's just come out that there's a problem with recycling them. Apparently there is a bit of mercury in them. SO...I don't have the answer for you yet, but plan to research it. I'll post it here when I find out what the options are... In the meantime, don't just toss them into the glass recycling bag--it needs more careful consideration. I've heard the problem is being worked out. Gppd luck! Paula
Subject: Recycling Light Bulbs
Date Posted: 1/6/2009 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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Home Depot now has containers by their service desks for the flourescent bulbs. Just drop the bulbs off there, and they will finish the job of disposing of themercury for you.

Are there any other places that recycle them that are available to the general public?

Subject: Slowly changing....
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2009
Posts: 624
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I have been changing the bulbs in my house as each one goes out, using my plastic bags from grocery shopping to clean out Kiki's litterbox, I take my cloth shopping bag grocery shopping unless I need some bags for Kiki (still haven't found a way around that, any ideas?), my boyfriend brings his dirty laundry to my house so that I can wash full loads (he just thinks I'm being nice), use blankets instead of turning up the heat, bought an energy-efficient heater to use to heat a room in my house, I use my towels longer than I used to, I'm not going to buy paper plates once these run out, and am going to be planting a garden next year. I also recycle as much as possible. I want to begin a compost heap, but I'm not really sure where to put it. I have a long way to go...also on my list is to start using homemade cleaners- my clothes and Kiki will thank me.

Date Posted: 3/6/2009 7:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
Posts: 146
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Thank you Jari for telling me where to recycle the flourescent bulbs!  We knew they had mercury and were just hanging onto them until we figured out what we were supposed to do with them.

Date Posted: 3/11/2009 4:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 123
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I sewed some mesh produce bags with drawstrings that I use to hold fruits and vegetables while I'm shopping at the grocery store. (I've always disliked those slippery plastic produce bags that get thrown away almost as soon as the food gets in door at my house.) I've had no problem using mesh produce bags at the checkstands and my bags are light enough that they don't affect the scale much.

Now, my next move is to start using canvas or other reusable totes for grocery bags : )

Date Posted: 3/12/2009 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 214
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I am on our local Freecycle group, and recently someone posted giving away 100 to 150 canvas bags. I jumped on that post, and was the first responder. I now have many canvas bags, and use them. I now keep about a dozen in the car, and when I go shopping they are definitely there. I was on a field trip with the children earlier this week, and a water bottle began leaking. My daughter wrapped it up in a canvas bag, and all was fine.

I was slightly embarassed about the bags when I went to the Natural Food store here. You see, they are labled with logos from meat producers and processors! I'll still use the bags, though, even though I don't really like meat!

My sister gave our daughters some crocheted bags. I have some extra yarn, and I'm examining them, the bags not the daughters :-) , to see how to make them.