Doing What we Can to Save the Earth and our Health

Our wonderful friend Jan is once again hosting the Gardener's Sustainable Living Project in which we can share what we are doing to protect our environment. Check out her link for all of the details on this wonderful project that helps encourage us to even just do one thing. Thank you Jan!!!

This is my post from last year's event in which I won a cobra head weeding tool in the drawing she had once the project was completed. It is a pretty neat little gadget, though I don't get many weeds to pull with it. This is in part because of my mulching efforts that save me a lot of back breaking labor. It's always very nice to have a backup plan though, just in case.

In addition to the composting, reusing plastic water bottles, canning, buying gently used items in place of brand new when possible, my gardening methods, and the conservation efforts that help to conserve our precious resources I have added some new activities to my efforts over the past year.

1. I have tried to limit my use of commercially prepared products. Not only because the packaging that these products come in, but also because of the way that chemicals and preservatives may affect our health. Some of the things I have begun making for my family include making tooth powder, cleaning supplies and laundry detergents, soap, and pet food. I may have forgotten a few things, but you get the idea...
2. Using less disposable bags. Not only can I use the bags that you can buy at the store for putting my purchases in, but I have also made some of my own bags. I just got done making some reusable produce bags out of a sheer fabric remnant that I bought about 6 years ago. The remnant that I found downstairs in my fabric stash only cost me 75 cents for almost 4 yards of fabric. So far I have made 4 of them, but I am sure that I will need many more than that before my garden veggies start ripening this summer.
3. Reusing creatively. Many of you may know about ways to reuse paper and cardboard, but what about those styrofoam packing peanuts? We used ours to revitalize a flattened pet bed. Word to the wise, if there is any scent on them at all do NOT put them in a beagle's bed... My husband had planned on throwing these away so he put a piece of aluminum foil that he had used on the grill on them. I thought I avoided all of the pieces that came in contact with the offending aluminum foil, but apparently he must catch a whiff of something and tries to tear the bed apart.
4. Replacing paper towels and paper napkins in most circumstances. This is a no-brainer. How often do we instictively reach for a paper towel when we go to dust? You spray the cleaner on the surface, you wipe with a paper towel, and when the towel starts to fall apart because it is too moist or whatever, we throw them away. What if we only used paper towels for something really nasty and gross (like a cat's hairball)? Do you know how much less waste we'd be sending to the dump just by using cloth instead?
5. Ditch the wrapping paper. Okay, it is fun to rip wrapping paper off of packages, but is it worth garbage bags full of trash to the dump? How many households are there? Even if you "only" send one garbage bag per holiday celebration, how many bags of trash will each country send? I made cloth bags simply because they're more durable than the paper version, but it's the same idea. I tried to make the bags more fun by using cartoon characters on my reusable gift bags. I will also add a draw string to the top of each bag to eliminate peeking as well as feeling the need to use reams of tissue paper to hide the gift inside. This picture shows my Finding Nemo gift bags, cloth placemats and napkins, and the produce bags I made.
6. Less plastic bottles. Not only can we reuse our bottles for water, but we can also use less bottles when we drink soda. We all know we really shouldn't drink soda because it's not good for us, but I know many of us give in to the urge once in a while anyway. I got this great solution for Christmas this year. Carbonate your own water in a reusable BPA free plastic bottle, add soda flavoring, and make your own. Not only does it have less environmental impact in the number of bottles, but the cola has only 35 calories in an 8 oz serving. If you compare that to Pepsi which has 150 calories in a 12 oz can you can see it's also "better" for you. Let me do the math for you. 150/12=12.5 calories per oz 12.5*8=100 calories in an 8 oz serving. It also has less than 1/3 of the sodium and less caffeine as well (it's lower on the ingredient list). If you want the true Pepsi taste though, this isn't it since the cola has more of a coke taste to it. Most people won't really notice the difference though.
7. Using less canned goods. Alright, I know it's not quite as "easy" as canned good vs dried, but there isn't the amount of salt in the dried goods either. To keep them fresh I store them in airtight containers. The dried good also cost less than canned goods do. If you buy a 15 oz can of beans, you know you're not getting 15 oz of beans, you are also paying for the liquid that the beans are packed in. If you rinse and drain the beans then that money is also being washed down the drain. Add to that the effort you go through to dispose of the cans those beans come in and it's another no-brainer. As an added bonus if you run out of seeds for your garden, you can plant these beans and grow some more food. You can't plant a canned bean because they have already been heated and will not grow into a new plant. Once the dried beans are rehydrated the beans will weigh more than 15 oz too, usually at least double the amount of the beans in a can.

What are you doing to help? To join this project create your own post. For a chance to win her awesome prizes you'll need to leave a link to your post on Jan's web page.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

14 comments:

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Wonderful suggestions Cinj;-) Great idea about the wrapping paper alternative. And the canned vs. dry--we pay for 'convenience' most of the time. Re-thinking our choices is what it's all about;-) Thanks for joining in...and happy spring (almost)!!

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

Super post! These are all great efforts to be more environmentally responsible. I always carry my own bags in the car. It drives me mad how many bags they use to pack things in at the shops. And, it is amazing how many plastic bottles are thrown away every year. I am preparing my post and hope to have it up next week.

Nola @ the Alamo said...

I love the look of all your foods in the clear jars; looks like they are on display.
I don't use gift wrap, either. I started giving gifts in re-usable bags, either the kind you can buy for shopping or home made ones from my stash of fabrics.
In addition to not buying water in plastic bottles, most of the time I carry my own cup/glass, so I cut down on bottles and styrofoam cups!

Cinj said...

Jan- Thanks. It occured to me this year as we were throwing out our second garbage bag full of wrapping paper. What a total waste!

Karin- Nice to meet you, thanks for stopping by. At my favorite grocery store, Aldi, we have to provide our own bags or pay for bags so it helps me remember to keep my bags in my car. I really need to keep some in my purse though because I often don't think much about the bags at the stores until I'm checking out.

Nola- I do too. Decorating with food gives my kitchen more of a country type look. It makes it easier to gather things when I go to cook. I need to carry my own container more often when I go out.

garden girl said...

Good tips Cinj! Your tips are not only environmentally-friendly, they are budget-friendly too, as so many sustainable practices are.

africanaussie said...

Hi I am going to enter this year as well, still working on my post! Thanks for your post - it reminded me that I said I wanted to make re-useable bags instead of gift wrapping this year. I am looking forward to all the fabulous new ideas I am going to learn about.

Cinj said...

Linda- Yes, I love that fact too. In times like these budget friendly things leave me more money for buying plants.

AA- I feel so well prepared this year, I can't believe mine was the first post. Nice to meet you. I love the collaborative efforts and sharing of ideas we get on the internet.

meemsnyc said...

Those are all great ideas. BTW, I use recycled seed catalogs for wrapping paper! http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/2011/03/home-brewing.html

sarah said...

Love your word to the wise about the "scented" packing peanuts in the doggie bed. What an image I got in my head of that! Your ideas are awesome and inspiring, thanks for sharing them. :)

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Hi Cinj. Girl I know you are always full of wonderful ideas to use.We all need to do what we can and I know you are up to trying new things. Have a wonderful week.

Cinj said...

Meems- Another great idea. I was thinking about using some of my seed catalogs to make some beads for necklaces. (Yet another new project to work on. ;) )

Sarah- Thank you and thanks for commenting on them. I love to meet new people and hear about their interests. The internet is so cool, isn't it?

Lona- Thanks, you too!

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

You are doing some great easy common sense things to live a more sustainable life. Thanks for sharing.

Amy - Get Busy Gardening said...

All great ideas! I especially love the on about making your own reusable gift bags. I will have to look into that this year for Christmas... how fun!!! If you have any tips or pattern designs, I would love to hear them!

Amy

Growing of Tomatoes said...

This is a lovely post AA. I agree with you that the more I garden and blog, the greener I become too. I am no greenie, but like most of us I try really hard to be as green as possible. Thanks so much for sharing all the great things you are doing with us :)