Sunday, May 04, 2008

Indigo Bubbles - The Green Issue

Every single magazine I pick up has a "Green" issue (once you remove the plastic wrapping encasing the magazine). By the way, the plastic wrap is there due to the loose postcards and inserts. Advertisers find it effective and the Post Office finds it annoying, which leads us to the plastic wrap. (Think of how much plastic and money they would save if the magazine publishers didn't have to spend on the extra step prior to mailing. Someone should do a Cost Benefit Analysis on this against the profit raised by the fall out postcard.)

Anyway, I've become very cognizant of my carbon foot print. And, living my suburban yuppie lifestyle, I've tried to incorporate a few measures.

We have an issue without garbage pick up. Our waste management company offers recycling pick up, but they've never come. We believe it's the awkward location of our house. Sadly, we have not been recycling. However, I'm remedying that situation!

o Newspapers and magazines come with me to work. My company recycles huge quantities of paper, and there's an agreement with the recycling company where we receive a bit of kick back from them based on the quantities. We use those extra funds for pizza for the holiday party. So, now my garage is clean, my company gets a little extra and paper gets recycled! Win-win-win!

o I am carrying my canvas totes to the store. I'm trying to leave them in the car so I have them when I need them. I found these bags shoved in my closet since they are freebies from conferences. These are excellent for heavy items like juice and milk! As for the plastic bags, my grocery store has a recycling bin. So, I'm collecting those in the garage, too. When shopping at the mall, I refuse new bags if I can combine into one bag.

o With the change of seasons, my daughter's growth spurts (and my recent weight loss!), I'm removing a lot of old clothes from our closets. I save some as giveaways to friends/family, or else I drop them off at the clothing collection boxes in the area. My husband likes using my daughter's soft old cotton tees for polishing the car.

o At work, my water bottle is a Snapple bottle with a rubber cover. This is great because I have dropped the bottle on occasion so the cover protects it. Plus, it's better to use the glass bottle since it can be washed.

o Plastic containers, oh how we desi women love them! I've got yogurt and sour cream containers, and a whole line of matching containers from Gourmet Wok. Ideal for takeaways after a dinner party. When my kitchen drawer becomes too full, I move them to my basement. I usually share my store with my mother who somehow loses the best of her containers. I also use rectangular containers for drawer separator as well as for small toys.

There have been other daily things we've done for years that are considered "being green."

o Before Select-A-Size paper towels, we were tearing paper towels in half to use. Also, get double uses out of one towel - if a towel was used to wipe a glass, use the same towel to wipe the counter or floor since it's a little wet. I realized the impact of this action when we had a family member staying with us and I needed to replenish the paper towel roll more frequently.

o Turning off excess water when brushing teeth or washing dishes. I've been aware of this since I returned from India in college. I realized how fortunate we are to having running water and try to use it wisely.

o Reuse plastic utensils. This is another Indian thing, which makes sense now.

o Share the love at work. We're particularly conscious of throwing away food when so many people don't have it. So, I bring in extra packets of teas, soy sauce, cookies, or whatever that comes my way and leave it in the lunchroom. It'll be gone before noon.

o Adopt Feng Shui . We're Feng Shui enthusiasts, and one of the key factors is to remove clutter. We try not to bring in new stuff unless there's a place for it. And, there has to be right place.

o Share the love with friends. Just about all of Annika's baby equipment (crib, bassinet, strollers, entertainers, chairs) are distributed among friends. We joke about how many babies have slept in her bassinet, since the average use is 4-5 months. I share the children's books she has outgrown, too. Her shelf is cleaner and has more space for the new books. Plus, it helps her learn to give and share. She gets very excited about designating who gets which book.

o We've been using fluorescent bulbs for a few years now, since we found them at Ikea.

o Save on office supplies. Currently, I've been receiving FedEx packs with CD inside. The sender is putting the CD in a bubble envelope and not really sealed. So, I'm saving those envelopes and I can slap a label and tape it up.

Visit Earth911 for lots of ideas. You can also plug in your zip code for recycling centers and services. Check out How Can I Recycle This for creative solutions.


ZenDenizen said...

This is a great summary of how the typical "guju" traits I was embarrassed of as a kid (recycling yogurt containers springs to mind) were actually way ahead of their time.

Anonymous said...

Zen - if you think about it, it's really just the American culture that promotes waste. In India, people are fairly conscious of how to carefully ration food, water and general items. They reuse plastic bags and containers to the point it may seem petty to Americans, but it makes sense. You didn't always have refrigerated storage, so you purchased fresh vegetables for the day's meals. That was it. Now it's trendy to "buy local" but for half the world, that's their only choice!

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to live in such an 'earth conscious'town that does not have recycling.

Unknown said...

Excellent summary. Being in India definitely makes you aware of how much we waste here. We don't allow plastic into the house now. If we get takeout we asked them not to put it in. We don't use any paper or foam or plastic plates either. Wash the real thing, we are adults now :-) And I have a ton of canvas bags that go everywhere with me for shopping and initially I felt like an idiot tree hugger but now I just don't care. It's important.

The biggest thing is cleaning out and now that we are moving I just redid 2 closets including my clothes closet and Himanshu said to me the other day "Oh it looks so much less now" to which I said "yeah I can shop more now :-)"

Anonymous said...

How about recycling organic waste? When you peel an onion or an orange, where does the waste end up? In your trash can?
How about composting your organic waste. Except meats and dairy, everything can be composted. If you recycle paper, plastic, glass, metal and food what remains? Practically nothing!
Ever since I started composting, there is absolutely nothing in my trash.
You can use the fertilizer for your household plants, your garden or any local farmer will gladly accept it.