Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dig: Being a Tree-Hugger

Don't get me wrong. I'm no Ed Begley, Jr. (whose ANNUAL electric bill is $200 because of all his solar-poweredness), I'm more of a fair-weather environmental freak. I kind of dig the feeling I get in my belly when I do my little part to protect this big blue marble that we live on. Here are some things that I do so my grandchildren can enjoy hay fever because the goldenrod has a place to grow and the whole place isn't just paved over like a big parking lot:

I pick up litter. Not all of it but if I see a Snickers wrapper on the ground, I might just pick it up. As you know from a previous post, I don't really understand littering so I'm kind of enabling the inconsiderate assholes who throw their crap on the ground. That means you, Mr. Smoker-Man.

I recycle newspapers, bottles, cans, etc. That's kind of a gimme. Everyone should do that especially if your friendly neighborhood garbage man provides one of those nifty blue container things to put the Target ads, Spaghettios cans and skim (I'm trying to watch my girlish figure)milk jugs in.

I use those funky fluorescent light bulbs at home. Those bastards are expensive but they do last a lot longer. I've been using them for a couple of years now and have yet to replace one.

I use those re-usable canvas bags for my groceries. This one kind of puts me over the edge, I think. I actually bring my own bags with me to the store like a true granola-lover - and one of them is even made of hemp! Unfortunately, I forget to do this sometimes so I still throw away a lot of those damn plastic bags. I have to admit, though, said damn plastic bags are good for throwing away diapers with poo in them. They're not necessary for diapers with just pee but you really don't want a diaper with poo living in your garbage can for a whole week unless they are sealed up sufficiently like the Anal Retentive Chef would do.

I turn off the light in my office at work when I leave it. According to a website that I think did actual research on the subject, if you're going to be gone from your office for more than 15 minutes, you should turn off the light. My co-workers used to make fun of me but after I popped one of them in the nose, they stopped. If you're a cube-dweller your life sucks anyway so you have my permission to run all the electrical appliances you see fit.

I use my own mug at Starbuck's instead of using yet another paper cup. I win three ways on this one. First, I'm not using a paper cup (which isn't even recyclable because there is a small amount of plastic in it). Second, I actually drink less VentiNonfatNoWhipMocha because the mug is a grande size, not venti. Third, the nice people at S'buck's take a cool ten cents off the price for using my own mug! I'm huge! I must confess, though, that this little token of eco-friendliness comes at a cost. See, that mug I'm using is made out of dead dinosaurs which sacrificed themselves to become oil which could be turned into plastic which eventually became my mug. Not very granola-y. For that matter, when I wash said mug, I use electricity to run the dishwasher and natural gas to heat up the water to make it clean. I may have to rethink this one...

I only use cold water to do the laundry. I suppose if I actually worked for a living and my clothes got real dirt on them I might need to use hot water but I'm happy to report that the dirt and odor associated with being a middle-management slacker comes out just fine with cold water!

So those are the things that I do to reduce my carbon footprint - whatever the hell that is. In the scheme of things, I'm pretty much doing the easy stuff which is kind of how I live my life. Even though I drive a Toyota, it's not a Prius - and I don't carpool even though there are a handful of people who work in the same building as me that live within a 5-mile radius of my house. I also still get two newspapers a day even though all the news that I need is available on line (stopping the newspapers might be next environmentally selfless act, actually).

I'll keep you posted on my progress on adding a 200' wind turbine to the top of the house and convincing the family to only flush every other time.


Russ Foster said...

Nice job. I don't think there are any good options on grocery bags. Taking your own bag is a decent option, but where I live grocery store security (yes, some of our grocery stores have security guards) looks at you funny.

I split have my purchases between plastic and paper bags, although I prefer paper most of the time.

Plastic bags: petroleum based, but good for using in small garbage cans throughout the house.

Paper bags: tree based, but good for keeping recycling products together, esp good for all the stuff that gets shredded, plus the bags are readily and easily recyclable.

I just received a large reusable canvas/hemp (some weird combo) bag which was used for a raffle prize I recently won. So I might take that leap--if I can make it past security.

BoggyWoggy said... throw away diapers!!!??? You MUST be using disposables, or you are forgetting that those expensive cotton ones are reusable! Hee, hee!
Here's an idea: when you forget your hemp bag, tell the grocery packer that you want paper. If you want to keep using those disposable diapers, instead of wadding the poopie ones up and stuffing them in a plastic bag before disposing, dump the crap into the toilet and then throw them away.
Oh...and your writer's voice is AWESOME! Thanks for the morning entertainment!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Love your list; kind of similar to mine.

I haven't graduated to the "byo grocery bag" thing yet though. Need the plastic for Cat Box disposal, need the paper for recycling more paper.

I also wonder sometimes about those thin plastic milk and orange juice containers. Is recycling them really helping all that much? I use a bunch of water to rinse them out because they tell me to, then the garbageman uses fuel to take them to the recycling center, then they probably get washed yet again and sorted in some big machine, then melted down and shipped somewhere... I dunno, I wonder if it wouldn't take fewer resources just to stomp on 'em and put it with the rest of the trash.

Zen Wizard said...

How do you feel about ethanol made from trees?

That would seem to be a treehugger's dilemma.

Scientists I guess are making these ethanol trees that grow really fast--genetically engineered trees. I think there is actually a way to get ethanol out of a tree without cutting it down--like the way they used to get turpentine.

Julie said...

I think the grocery bag thing is a great idea and you can get them at a reasonable price here
they're made out of t-shirts and she tends to sell them in packs.
The light thing well I'm a cube dweller so I don't use much to begin with. and the mug thing is well hilarious but also awesome especially when the people at starbucks knock off 10 cents. The other thing that I started doing (and trust me it's even smaller then the not using the paper cups thing) when I do use an paper cup I have my own hand knitted sleeve as opposed to the cardboard one. I know I'm a dork you can say it.

MJ said...

You don't use hot water in your laundry? Even on your WHITES?!?? That's kinda nasty.

Anonymous said...

mj, in many developed countries, cold water is the only choice. The washing machine has an agitator, soap (washing powder) does its thing.

I need orange said...

Another excellent way to use less energy is to use free wind/solar to dry your clothing.

We have a dryer, but I bet it doesn't get used half a dozen times a year..... (We hang the stuff in the basement in the winter when the furnace has dried out the house.)

I know this isn't an option if you don't have a basement or a yard, but it is an easy way to save if you do (and your clothes last longer, too, which is another savings all around).

Wonderduck said...

Nice post. You posted on my blog where I recapped a marathon performance (albeit a long time ago). I don't know what made me go back and look at that post or why I checked the comments or why I then clicked on your comment, but I did. Your post here made me laugh. I am similar. I pick up trash and I HATE Mr/Ms. smoker throwing away litter whilst it is on fire! What's up with that? How can anyone think that is ok? I am sure that they don't think of themselves as littering, but how can they not?

Oh, sorry about that little rant. If everyone would do the easy things to reduce their waste it would make a huge difference. Well done you.

*Bitch Cakes* said...

John, I have my own dig: Your Blog!

You gonna get back to posting, or what?

Flu-Bird said...

These crazy tree huggers are ruining our forests in the next disasterous fire i suggest they be put on the fires and let them put out the fires cuased by their own stupididy

Birdzilla said...

I heard about where someone was killed falling out of a tree YEAH THATS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY GET REDICULOUS AND SIT IN A TREE AND SHOW THEIR IDIOTS