Good things we do:
- Compost. We recently bought an actual bin for about $40 at Sams's Club, as our previous home-made containment device didn't contain the yard waste well and pretty much looked like a large pile of leaves, dirt, and rose bush clippings. The new one is kind of ugly black plastic, but it's contained and the black will trap heat, which ought to help. As I was transferring the old stuff into the new bin on Sunday, I realized that our inept first attempt was actually somewhat successful--the bottom layer was a rich, dark, soft earthy material. Now, however, the good stuff has been layered throughout the new bin to help get some of the upper levels moving. Maybe by next spring our garden will actually benefit from the trouble!
- Reusable Grocry Bags. We now own a large enough collection to carry a full, large load of groceries home. We have 1-2 from each of several stores--Schnucks, Target, Walmart, Trader Joe's, etc. They were cheap, like $1 each, purchases 1 or 2 at a time over several weeks. I wish stores would offer some sort of incentive (free bag with $100 purchase, or 25c off your grocery bill for reusing bags)--I think more folks would take them up on it. The nice side benefit is that all the plastic grocery bags don't pile up and then multiply under the sink anymore (I swear they were breeding down there...) I could never remember to take them back to the stoers to recycle, and we just don't go through that much bathroom trash to reuse them all.
- Recycling. Hooray for Maryland Heights for providing free recycling starting this year and HUGE free recycling bins to all homeowners. We were paying to recycle before, and constantly overflowing the little bin. These days, our recyclling bin is about half of our weekly trash output.
- Programmable Thermostat. It saves us money too.
- Bottled water: Rather, a lack of it. We own a fair number of travel cups/water jugs and rarely use bottles. If we do, we recycle them.
Not so good things:
- Disposable diapers. This is purely a time thing. Without using cloth diapers, our laundry is never done. Maybe if I could afford to hire help. Or to pay a diaper service, which, last I checked, costs more than our disposables (and involves buring gas for the service to drive them around town).
- Unplugging appliances that arent' in use: I frequently wander around unplugging things like my razor charger (I use an electric..don't laugh, it works), and teh power cord to the bounce house, which has a LED in it. But I have yet to convince my hubby to actually shut off the computers during the day, and there are lots of plugs that are just a pain to reach, so they stay in.
Where we would improve, if we could:
- Light Bulbs: We have replaced some bulbs with compact fluorescents, but we ahve a lot of lights on dimmer switches. Like, every celing fan in the house (6 fans x 4/5 bulbs each). I have yet to find a compact fluorescent in the stores that is safe for dimmers. Also, last time we tried those with our light-sensing timers for the outside lights, we got a bad flashing effect.
- Cars. We have talked about replacing one of our cars with a hybrid. Possibly both--but one would have to be a hybrid minivan (if such a thing exists yet) or an SUV (something with some hauling capacity, you know). In the mean time, we are living car-payment free, and that is a lot more important to us.
- Solar Electricity. My husband has been drooling for years over solar shingle setups that would let us collect our own electricitiy. Theoretically, we could even sell any overflow back to the power company, effectively getting paid during the sunny summer months. The initial cost is kind of high, and right now, we're probably halfway through the life of our roof, so it's not a good time.
- Buying more locally grown produce. I don't know why the grocery stores import their bell peppers from Chile when there are local farms that sell them. I don't have time to head downtown or to Kirkwood weekly to buy fruit and veggies. I finally last year discovered a farmers market that is within reasonable driving distance, so hopefully we will make some use of that this summer. We usually try to grow a few things of our own, but our garden space is limited, and the local rabbit population plentiful (probably thanks to our meager efforts). This year, if we're lucky, we're hoping for a bumper crop of pumpkins. Or at least one or two.
- Ride my bike to work. I suppose it's theoretically possible--I've biked this distance before. If I lived a little closer, I really might in good weather. But, really, it's not going to happen. Working from home is completely out of the question, due to the nature of my job. So, I burn gasoline.