Monday, August 9, 2010

How Extreme is Your Green?

I'm big on feeding my kids organic food, buying local produce and fair trade products when possible, baking my own bread, etc. I do this for the health benefits to my family, but I do also enjoy the fact that such products are better for the environment.
We also tried using compact fluorescent light bulbs exclusively (in every lamp and fixture that was suitable for them), but as you may recall from one of my previous blog posts, that didn't work out so well for us. Not every green option is a perfect fit for every family. After three years, we removed most of them for a number of reasons, but I will note that since going back to incandescents, my daily migraines have become much less of a problem. We still use some CFLs, but not exclusively.
My husband's office is an hour from our home, so he and 15 other employees who live in our town ride a carpool van every day to work. This saves us more than $300 a month in gas and auto wear and tear (our primary reason). It also reduces pollution. There is a fee for the carpool, but the monetary benefits far outweigh it.
I'm also big on recycling. My city has made it easy for me with weekly curbside pickup of recycled goods, so how can I not take full advantage of that convenience? Yet as I sorted through the mail yesterday and found myself standing over the trash can, ripping the bits of cellophane from windowed envelopes (the city says they can't recycle the cellophane), I had to wonder if I'm being a little bit obsessive with this recycling effort.
Do you obsess over green? If so, in what ways? Share your green extremes with me.


  1. We have a large curbside recycling bin and I recycle newspapers, aluminum & metal cans, plastic tubs & bottles, glass (which goes in a different container,) cardboard, paper (incl. cereal boxes, etc.) And anything that isn't allowed in the bin I recycle through other sources, i.e., Beaverton Recycling takes the clear plastic containers (like the ones you get blueberries, etc. in.) I recycle plastic bags at the grocery stores as most of them have a bin outside for plastic bags. I take my fluorescent bulbs to Hazardous waste recyclers and my styrofoam to a place that recycles it. I just cleaned out my linen closet & discovered that I had tons of towels that have been in there for years. So I brought them to the SAFE (Salvation Army Female Emergency shelter.) They're always in need of towels. Have also given them twin sheet sets, as all the beds at the shelter are twin. Beaverton Recycling also takes hardbound and paperback books, so I brought some real old leather yearbooks from colleges (my husband had cut out some of the pictures so I didn't think any college would want them.) I regularly give items to Teen Challenge for their thrift store. They are a wonderful Christian organization that helps addicts recover from their addictions, and they have a very high successs rate. They recently picked up a house full of furniture from a friend of ours who's moving back to his hometown. He was so glad I told him about Teen Challenge as he was going to give it all to Goodwill. I could go on and on with all the great recycling programs we have around the Portland area. You can even recycle appliances, TV's, computers, electric items. Oh and there's a place called Scrap that you would really like. People donate art supplies, calendars, a variety of different items that teachers, daycare workers, moms, etc. can purchase for a fraction of the cost, and use for making various items with their students or children. They even have samples of some of the things you can make, and it's amazing what you can do with all sorts of items; even the little black film canisters. Anyway, I am a "recycling nut," but it really makes me happy when we can give reusable things away that can either be used by somebody else, or recycled and not put in a landfill. Oh and our light fixtures all have the fluorescent bulbs in them. They really last a long time. Sorry this is so long. Hugs, Nancy B.

  2. Thanks, Nancy. You have some excellent ideas. Donating old items is big in our house right now.

  3. Every time I use a gallon of water to rinse out a plastic bottle or a can to recycle, I wonder which is worse - using all that water or putting a bottle in the landfill? Obsessive, yes. But I bet someone somewhere has done the math.

  4. I wonder the exact same thing when rinsing out items for recycling. When does it become counter productive?