Save Green by Going Green

22 Apr

Happy Earth Day, everybody! As a nature lover and and natural-light enthusiast, I try to be conscious about how my actions impact our environment. More often than not, the roads to going green and saving money intersect, creating a nice harmony of environmental stewardship and responsible money management. While my husband and I do more than a few things right when it comes to being ecofriendly, we can definitely do more. Here’s a summary of both!

Grand Teton National Park. Photo by me.

Grand Teton National Park. Photo by me.

 

PAPER
What We Do Right
– We avoid printing receipts, confirmations and other required documents by saving them to a PDF and storing them on flash drives and hard drives.
– We ask for paper bags at the grocery store and burn them in our energy-efficient wood-burning stove.
– I use my smartphone for tasks that used to require paper. For example, the Coupon Sherpa app helps me save while shopping without the use of paper coupons, while the navigation tool helps me get where I need to go without printed directions!
– I’ve cut down on paper towel use by switching to reusable cloths, including the ever-dynamic microfiber-water duo.

Where We Can Improve
– Recycle or burn the paper we accumulate through junk mail.
– Switch to reusable grocery bags in the warm months when we’re not using the wood stove.
– Review accounts and request paperless statements from all of them. My investment accounts kill several hundred trees just to send me updates, I swear.

ENERGY
What We Do Right
– Our wood-burning stove cut our natural gas use considerably this year. We turned it on for a total of seven days during the entire winter.
– Our whole-house fan makes it easier for us to avoid A/C use during the warm summer months.
– A programmable thermostat controls the temperature of our home and keeps our energy use top-of-mind with usage reports.
– The majority of our lightbulbs are CFLs, excluding the globe bulbs in our bathrooms.
– I launder everything in cold water, reducing the use of our water heater.

Where We Can Improve
– We have a ton of electronics and other items plugged in; we could reduce our energy use by switching off these devices when we’re not using them.

WATER
What We Do Right
– My husband is an irrigation designer by trade, so our system is highly efficient with specialized sprinkler heads and a drip irrigation system in the garden.
– We don’t brush our teeth with the faucet on. I’ve never understood why people do that!
– Water cycled through the wort chiller during homebrewing is used as irrigation for plants and trees.

Where We Can Improve
– It takes a few minutes for our shower to warm up, so a ton of water is wasted while we wait.
– I try to be mindful about water use when washing dishes, but I know I can do better here.
– I have good intentions when I pour myself a giant jar of water, but I’m forever finding half-drunk glasses around the house (Signs, anyone?). I use them to water plants and such, but still; get it together, Kendal!

WASTE
What We Do Right
– As a two-person household, we don’t accumulate much waste. Sometimes, we skip the weekly trash pickup because our bin isn’t nearly full enough.
– My husband composts spent hops and grain from homebrewing, creating rich soil for our garden. Our dogs enjoy grazing on the grain, too.
– Back when I was into juicing, we dumped the pulp from all the fruits and veggies into our garden as compost.

Where We Can Improve
– We can compost more of what we use and don’t eat. I’m eyeballing small compost pales for coffee grounds and other household scraps, while my husband is slowly creating a compost pile in our backyard.
– I’ve fished cans and bottles out of the trash can before to put into the recycle bin. I’ve also tossed a few soiled plastic containers into the trash, only to realize they’re recyclable. Tsk tsk.

FUEL
Pretty much an epic fail on this front. It’s where we struggle most because we live outside city limits and each have 15-minute commutes to work. Our vehicles aren’t the most fuel efficient, but my husband does have his eyes peeled for a diesel commuter car that gets 40+ MPGs.

Back at’cha — what are you doing right and where can you improve your green habits?

2 Responses to “Save Green by Going Green”

  1. Catherine April 26, 2014 at 1:21 am #

    We’re good, but not great. I need to be better about separating garbage/recyclables. Though our city arguably has one of the best waste management/recycling programs in Canada, I’m guilty of being lazy sometimes…like if my container of ‘x’ goes bad, I toss the whole thing rather than wiping it out to put plastic container in recyclable bag. I’ve really cut down on paper towel though and do all my cleaning with rags (limit PT for stuff like cat vomit haha).

    • Kendal April 28, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      Ditto on the paper towel use for gross stuff! I’m also guilty of tossing a plastic container full of something I don’t feel like cleaning out. I’m working on it, though! Thanks for commenting, Catherine. :)