Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reducing Environmental Impact

I've been thinking a lot about the environment lately, partly because it's Springtime—one of my most favorite times of year—and partly because Earth Day is tomorrow. I do my best to reduce the impact I (and my family) have on the environment: we cloth diaper, recycle, compost, only have one car and take public transportation as much as possible, we live close enough to a grocery store to walk there—and we actually do...most of the time. We got lucky enough to rent a place that already had high-efficiency appliances installed, so we take advantage of those. Now that it's sunnier out, I've been more intentional about opening the curtains before turning on any lights (I live in the often-cloudy PNW, remember).

But I want to do more! For instance, I know we use more water than I'd like, so I'm going to work on limiting length of showers, and stretching out times between running the dishwasher, and then running it very full. I'd like to be more diligent about cooking at home and cooking vegetarian (because I know that the meat industry has huge environmental impacts), even though we're usually very intentional about buying sustainably and humanely farmed meats. I also aspire to get over my fear of my sewing machine (I know, it's totally irrational and nearly impossible to injure myself with a sewing machine) and finally complete all the projects I have lined up. I really like making things and using crafting as a creative outlet, and—even better—it saves us money and allows me to reuse things that might otherwise get thrown away (or kept indefinitely).

Another thing is, I know we run our dryer way more than we need to, and I've begun to see a little bit of wear on some of my diapers from putting them through the dryer (as I used to do almost all the time). This weekend, I asked my partner Jaymz to rig up an outdoor clothesline for us. Since we don't have room for a more traditional long line (strung across the back yard we don't have, for instance), I had dismissed the idea in the past. But then I realized we have plenty of vertical space that is under-utilized, so why not use that?! He even figured out a way to tie the line on so that we didn't have to put any nails in the wood, and we used rope that we already had lying around. This morning, I added an extra loop at the top for the octopus, and now I have a perfect place to sun and dry my diapers in the fresh air.

I've been surprised at how enjoyable it is to stand outside hanging the diapers up on the new clothesline. I can wear Daniel on my back if he's awake, and we both get to bask in the sunlight and enjoy the cool breeze. It's so satisfying to smell the fresh, dry cloth when I take it down bring back in: I didn't know hanging things to dry could be so fun! This feeling of enjoyment has been really inspirational to me—if this feels so good, imagine what making just a few more small changes will feel like!

So, those are a few things that are in the works in my life, aside from my ongoing quest to remove clutter. I'm looking forward to how making these small, seemingly insignificant changes are going to end up impacting my life (and our budget).

What are you going to do this year (or even today!) to make your corner of the Earth a little greener? Do you have any special plans for celebrating Earth Day tomorrow? I'm excited to hear your ideas!


  1. What a perfect place for that! The smell of the air-dried things is like no other. So glad you are getting to enjoy that with Daniel.

  2. I *was* taking all my compostables to a woman at work who had a compost bin. (Crazy way to earn brownie points with the boss, right?) But I've since left that job. We live in an apartment so a compost bin is... well it just isn't feasible. I'm still trying to find other ways and make other baby steps.

    Speaking of which, are you familiar with Sustainable Baby Steps? If not, check it out - I'm sure you'll find some great info there!

  3. I love your creative clothesline! I am sitting here right now trying to figure out how we could do that at our house. We have a long retractable one that goes across the backyard, but I'm pretty sure my neighbors hate me for using it. And we have lots of bees in the yard and I'm terrified of them. It's also hard to watch the kids while hanging laundry outside. But it really is a great feeling! I want to get back into it somehow.

  4. I always really enjoy hanging clothes on the clotheline, too, but I thought I was just nuts! :-) It gets me outside in the fresh air, and I feel incredibly virtuous and old-school! And it freshens your diapers better than anything.

    Then I kick back and crack open a brew or whatever (not as easy in your quarters, I'll admit) and enjoy the sight of clothes swaying in the breeze. I even kind of enjoy crunchy towels! Invigorating and exfoliating!

    When I tell people I LIKE it, they look at me like I have a screw loose. But they just don't know what they're missing.

  5. Mama Jorje - what about a worm bin for your food scraps? (And then give me the compost they make? Okay, that's not required.)

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