Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guest Post - Moms Who Are Less Trashy

Today's blogger in Mrs. Haid from The Fabulous Adventures Of Mrs. Haid. She's got some great stuff over on her site, make sure you check it out!

Hello to those who are also NOT at the beach right now!  Isn't Jessica fortunate to have such a great time with her family?  I feel (understandably) jealous because I love Destin.  And even though some of the beach go-ers are spotting oil in the water, I would totally be out there exploring and looking for tar balls. I told husband about this and he thought it was really weird of me to want to see what some of our favorite beaches look like now.  I think I am just really curious about it though.  We've spent our best vacations on the Gulf since our honeymoon on the peninsula of Fort Morgan and the Emerald Coast of Florida.  I think it would be painful to see the gunk there, but I'd like to shovel the beaches or do water tests or something while I am down there gawking at the big mess.

Oh, at this point, I should probably mention that I am a science teacher.  Maybe that factoid will make my desire to observe and test in the Gulf make more sense!  It also might give me some street cred when you read the topic of this post: Moms Who Are Less Trashy!

I have been writing The Fabulous Adventures of Mrs. Haid since 2008 and am in my third summer of journaling my thoughts and adventures on the site.  Since that time I've written about my experiences as a teacher, a wife, a mother who has experienced miscarriage, a survivor and fighter of an eating disorder, and cheerleader to my 10 month old son

I write about a few things that haven't been on Jessica's blog much - because they are my passion, not necessarily hers - and I'd like to share some of these things with you, a new audience.

 I'd like this post to come off as a list of suggestions of things any mom could do to waste less and be more mindful of the impact her family is having on the environment. 

I am pretty passionate about reducing my impact on the Earth.  I think it has to do with being a good steward of the resources I've been given.  Here are some of the things I do because I care about the sort of environment my son will live in one day.

I don't use plastic water bottles, throw away paper products, or plastic grocery bags. 
It means that I DO recycle all paper products - JUNK MAIL! -  and try to buy only the plastics (#1 and #2) that my city recycles. 

It means that I feel sort of proud when our trash pick up is insignificant as compared to the recycle pick up items.

It means that I think to keep a To Go cup in the car so I can have my not-so-guilty pleasure of Quik Trip fountain soda without wasting a new cup.

It means that I have to tote around a little larger diaper stash since my son wears cloth.  I need to carry around a wet bag for the used diapers rather than tossing them in a bin (or out the window like the driver of a minivan did yesterday in our neighborhood... gross!)

It means we use a rain barrel to irrigate the gardens and that we grow some vegetables in our garden instead of buying ones shipped in from Central America.

 Here are some guidelines or ways to think about living in a more sustainable manner.

Reduce the amount of trash you makeBy recycling it.  Re-purposing it.  Composting table scraps (non-meats and dairy). And... the real challenge... not buying so much of it in the first place.  Oh, what a struggle for me to  do this at Target when I feel compelled to just buy, buy, buy!

Reduce the amount of packaging and shipping associated with products you consume. By patronizing farmers' markets, Goodwill, and yard sales instead of a Big Box store, you are reducing the amount of cardboard, fuel, and production materials associated with buying that product new.  Shopping locally means that you are reducing your dependence on goods that are made or grown else where and shipped to you.  So browsing Craigslist is a good thing!

Consider reusable productsInstead of paper plates, napkins, and cups, perhaps you can wash one set of plastic "summer supper" type dishes, or use your everyday dishes.  Reusing a plastic cup just once means you are using half as many plastic cups as if you threw them away!  Also consider reusable products like dishtowels and wash rags for cleaning instead of paper towels.  We used to do paper towel cleaning... which meant tossing half a roll with each clean up.  Since we are doing laundry anyway, we use cloth towels and toss them in the washer with the rest of the clothes.  Also, you might consider cloth diapers and cloth maxi pads.  Whoa! Did she just type that?  Yes, I SO did.  I use both products (well, my lovely son uses the diapers, and I will use the pads once nursing has ended and I am fertile again). I LOVE using both products.  I wouldn't switch back.  Those tops are worthy of a WHOLE other post, so I won't discuss them now.  But, dude, you can do it and its totally not gross.

Use less energyWash most loads on cold and line dry when possible.  We wash almost all our clothes on cold, but the soiled dish rags, muddy softball clothes, and cloth diapers get washed on hot cycle.  This saves so much energy (and $).  I admit that line drying isn't my favorite house hold chore.  I actually prefer the smell of dryer sheet to fresh air, too.  However, I read that it saves $1.25 each load that is line dried and as much as $250 in energy costs a year.  This is enough incentive for me to use the 10 minute Fluff feature for our towels, sheets, shirts, and prefold diapers to soften them up post-line dry.  Also, try a timer for several lights or for Christmas lights to cut down on unnecessary illumination.
I see this list as a starting point, not a check list.  Being eco-chic or green or whatever the buzz word a la mode is is great, but really, I think its about a mind set.  Its about shifting one's actions from that of total convenience and disposibility to those that are more sustainable.
I know that I live a life that uses much more of the Earth's resources than many on this Earth do.  Statistics like the ones below make it so that I don't feel too preachy harping on others to use less.  I feel more like its okay to share with other moms because EEK.  We make a lot of trash!  That trash is going to be there for our kids! EEK!

Trash Facts In her book Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life Of Garbage, Heather Rogers includes the following facts:
  • The average American discards almost seven pounds of trash per day.
  • With only 5 percent of the global population, the U.S. consumes 30 percent of the planet's resources and churns out 30 percent of its wastes.
  • Garbage production in the United States has doubled in the last 30 years.
  • About 80 percent of U.S. products are used once, then thrown away.
  • 95 percent of all plastic, two-thirds of all glass containers, and 50 percent of all aluminum beverage cans are never recycled; instead they just get burned or buried.
The EPA cites that in just one year, Americans generate 236 million tons of garbage. While about 30 percent of garbage gets recycled or composted, 164 million tons are tossed away, including:

  26,800,000 tons of food
  8,550,000 tons of furniture and furnishings
  6,330,000 tons of clothing and footwear
  5,190,000 tons of glass beer and soda bottles
  4,200,000 tons of plastic wrap and bags
  3,650,000 tons of junk mail
  3,470,000 tons of diapers
  3,160,000 tons of office paper
  3,070,000 tons of tires
  2,820,000 tons of carpets and rugs
  2,230,000 tons of newspapers
  2,060,000 tons of appliances
  1,520,000 tons of magazines
  1,170,000 tons of wine and liquor bottles
     970,000 tons of paper plates and cups
     840,000 tons of books
     830,000 tons of beer and soda cans
     780,000 tons of towels, sheets, pillowcases
     540,000 tons of telephone directories
     450,000 tons of milk cartons
     160,000 tons of lead-acid (car) batteries

 So, dear readers of Jessica's blog, thank you for listening/reading this guest post while she is away in Destin.  Perhaps you've considered a few of my ideas and might incorporate one or two - just one or two changes at a time would be awesome! - and we can all try a little harder to make less garbage and teach our children to do the same.