Thursday, March 27, 2008

Going Green (Baby Steps)

So recently, I've been thinking more about trying to reduce our impact on the environment. I'm kind of at the level of the typical American consumer, currently, so I'm at a place where some of the changes I'm trying to make are relatively easy. I recycle whatever I can, although unfortunately our curb-side recycling is very limited, so I end up driving to the recycling center fairly often. I will save plastic bottles or soda cans all day in my purse so I can take them home and recycle them; if I don't, I feel terribly guilty.

Part of my concern is for the amount of stuff ending up in landfills. I think eventually I'll start worrying more about the content of what products I use, but for now I'm trying to limit the amount I throw away. And believe me, we throw away a lot of stuff. My husband and I have a serious fast food habit, and combined with my iced tea habit, I use a ton of fast food cups. Most of them are Styrofoam or plastic #6, neither of which are recyclable (at least not here). I've started pondering ways to avoid throwing away so many cups.

What I'd like best doesn't seem to exist in the form I'd like. I want a reusable plastic cup in the same shape as most fast-food to-go cups (so it fits in my car cup holder). It could be a different material--it doesn't have to be plastic--but plastic would be relatively inexpensive. I guess I can start using my Nalgene bottle for this purpose, but as I now do so much driving, trying to unscrew the cap while driving isn't terribly safe. Many other forms of reusable bottles for sale (like these) are built in a similar fashion. A narrow-mouth bottle wouldn't be convenient for filling with ice and water in a fast-food situation; a wide-mouth bottle with only a screw-off lid has no straw for easy drinking. If anyone finds a cup that fits all these requirements, let me know.

We had the little squiggly lightbulbs in our apartment; we haven't had a chance yet to replace all the bulbs here in the house, but it's in the plans. I'm actually thinking about doing a composting experiment in the backyard, too. We have plenty of dog poo to add to the pile, and food which goes to waste, so why not?

I think a lot of what I'm looking at is how wasteful we are. I'm looking at a to-go container for a sandwich I took home yesterday from a restaurant. It's a clear plastic container, made of #6 plastic. This is going straight in a landfill. Most other to-go containers we get are styrofoam, which is also going in a landfill.

I've started using reusable shopping bags, but it's harder than I thought. I never seem to have them on me when I go to the store for large grocery trips; sometimes I have one in my purse for the quick trip, but sometimes I don't. Sometimes the cashier uses plastic bags before I realize what has happened. I still have piles of plastic bags under my sink; fortunately, a local grocery store has a bin for recycling plastic bags. Not everyone is so considerate; there are dumped plastic bags all over the countryside out here.

I'm not quite to this level, though: apparently, they make reusable menstrual pads and "cups". I'm not so sure about this, personally. That's just more gross than I'm currently willing to do.

I'm only taking baby steps here so far. The truly green will probably laugh at some of my efforts, because we're still definitely "consumerists" and will probably remain so. We have to start somewhere, though.


Trent said...

I recently thought about the exact same thing as I carried a rather large trash bag full of dirty diapers to the dumpster.

But then I thought of the alternative - cloth diapers.

I don't know if I'll ever be THAT green.

Tiny Shrink said...

I can't say I blame you one bit.

Midwife with a Knife said...

I actually like the plastic bags better because I use them for garbage bags, kitty litter cleanup and lunches (not the same bags. ;) ), so I figure the reuse makes up for the fact that I use plastic over paper. I also have some cloth bags (mostly harvested from conferences) that I use for bigger trips, but I don't have enough for a real grocery shopping trip.

Bardiac said...

Would a biking bottle work for your needs?