Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's not easy wanting to be green

I want our house to be greener than it is. I really do. But I just can't figure out how to manage it.

On paper, it sounds like a simple concept -- reduce, reuse, recycle; use green products; and cut down on hydro.

But in practice, those simple concepts are a lot harder than it would appear.

For starters, we do reduce, reuse and recyle. There are three bins under my kitchen sink for sorting trash, green and recycle and there's two bins in my bathroom for the same purpose. Everything (almost always) goes in the correct bin. And thankfully, we live in a municipality where diapers are green bin-able. Because I've been using disposable diapers for over three years now and had they not been green bin-able, I probably would have seriously reconsidered the decision to go disposable.

But have you ever seen how over-packaged kids toys are? You try your damnest to be green, and then you end up with a house-full of non-recyclable packaging after a birthday party. The worst packaging fiasco I ever saw was when Austin got his tool bench. Each tool was sealed in its own plastic bag. And the toy came with about a dozen tools! That was 11 plastic bags more than I needed.

And kids toys aren't the only thing that's over-packaged; a lot of Costco products are as well.

I shop at Costco. A lot. With a family of four, we go through a lot of stuff, and the cheapest way to go about it is to buy it in bulk. But somone please explain to me why the extra-large pack of paper towels I bought last week had to have 12 individual rolls of paper towel wrapped in plastic? (I wouldn't have bought it if I'd realized that.) And why does a three-pack of bread have to be wrapped together? (So that means there are four plastic bags for three loaves of bread.)

Being a Costco shopper, and a thrifty shopper, makes it hard in general, to shop green. Because at Costco, for example, a 150-load box of Tide costs $20. A similar size green product isn't even available, but if it were, it would costs me three or four times as much money.

And that's the biggest stumbling block I have to having a green household -- detergents and cleaners. I want to buy the green ones, I really do. But everything from the Tide green equivalent to the toilet bowl cleaner green equivalent costs too much money. And I can't justify spending more money when I a) don't have job in the first place and b) do about 8 loads of laundry a week.

But, since I'm on the subject of laundry, this non-green activity is all my fault. I tend to throw a load of laundry on while the kids are napping because it's the most convenient time for me -- but that's the most expensive hydro time of day. And the time of day when Toronto Hydro is always telling us to turn down our a/c and not run the washing machine or dishwasher to conserve energey. But I do.

Lately, I've been trying to remember to leave the load in the washer when it's done and then moving it to the dryer when I go to bed. But that doesn't always work. And I'd love to be able to say I'd hang it on my clothes line, but I don't have one. I'd love to, but in my backyard, there's nowhere to put one.

So I use the dryer 12 months a year.

And being at home all day with the kids, I have no intention of turning off my a/c during the day -- I love the summer and the heat, but I was not too pleased the day my a/c wasn't working earlier this week (thankfully it's working now).

But, my new dishwasher has a timer on it, so I am always setting it to run around 1 a.m. So that's a start I guess.

And we all have to start somewhere.


SnH said...

Oh oh oh! Can I make suggestions?? (hand frantically waving in the air)

I use method products for all items that Maddie touches (i.e. I used the floor products when she was crawling, I continue to use their glass cleaner because it is the best smelling thing in the whole wide world, and the regular cleaners are awesome)... And I buy them at Shoppers - using my Optimum points as often as possible to cut down the cost.

I also like the greenworks dish detergent and general cleaner - that's the green line by Clorox and I don't find it all that expensive. Or maybe I don't clean that much...

I've never used the green laundry detergent, because - well, I'm too cheap to pay that crazy price right now. But I do use vinegar instead of fabric softener - and that's awesome.

And can I just say - you totally DO have the room in your yard for a clothesline - because the umbrella ones fold down when you're not using (or take right out of the ground and put somewhere if you want completely out of site) - you don't need to use concrete, they have these nifty stakes that work really well - you just need a sledge to drive it into the ground!

And um - well, I turn my ac off at night and during the day for the most part. Actually I just turn it on an hour before seth gets home so he doesn't even notice and I'm not freezing in the house as I sit at my computer working.

Oh - and I'm growing my own garden and I buy most of fruits/veggies locally in the summer from various farmers markets. BUT I heard of this really cool thing you can do with a local farm - it's like "buying shares" in the farm and they send you a bushel of the latest fruits/veggies they are growing that week. I meant to keep the article that mentioned it - since I'm a "Durham Girl" now, I thought - yes! This is what we'll do next year... but I didn't keep. I'm sure you could find the info out via Google.

Sooooo, there's my $0.02.

becca said...

If only it was easier to live green! I wish green products in general didn't cost so much but maybe as demand for them goes up, the price will go down? Hopefully! Actually I've been using Grab Green detergent, it comes in bulk sizes on their website ( It comes out to $0.28/load, but that's including detergent, stain remover, and fabric softener (it's all in the same product), so in my opinion it's relatively affordable. It's also easy to use and convenient.

I like to buy vinegar and baking soda in bulk at Costco to use for general household cleaning, especially for the kitchen and bathroom. Works wonders on almost everything!