Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seven Ways I'm not "Green Enough" - and why it's okay

I have a talent recognized by me coworkers; I can rationalize almost anything. This skill comes in handy when applying for grant money or writing persuasive papers. In the real world, rationalizing helps balance wishes with reality. I wish I could be more eco-conscious, but when all is said and done, I'm pretty darn good. Here are my confessions, along with the rationale for each weakness.


1. I don't own a clothesline.

Family members have seasonal allergies, so hanging clothes in the pollen-filled breeze is a bad idea. Sleeping in sheets dried outside will trigger sneezing and wheezing at the least, hives at worst.


2. I use commercial laundry detergent and dishwasher soap, too.
Time is money and money is time, so making and experimenting with DIY soaps isn't practical. I do use anti-static dryer balls instead of fabric softener in all loads but delicate. The Balls don't work as well with sweaters.


3. I drive a minivan.

We still need to move La Petite back and forth to college a few more times, and the minivan is also the only vehicle (short of a full sized van) that will hold Amigo's recumbent 3-wheeler. This is a need, not a want. My elderly minivan (a 1998 Pontiac Transport-Montana) would have qualified in the recent Cash for Clunkers rebate. I didn't do it. The new, and smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles are great in concept, but I don't think the program would have rewarded me for trading one minivan in for another, not to mention the challenge of making car payments and tuition at the same time.


4. Chuck (the husband with the cool shoes) buys bottled water, and I don't stop him.

This is a convenience issue. He needs to be able to grab a bottle and go, taking it with him on the job. Amigo and I solve this by filling our reusable bottles at the school's water fountains (bubblers, in the local vernacular). Chuck doesn't. Oh, well, it's a balance.

5. I use paper coffee filters.

I compost them. 'Nuff said.


6. I don't compost year-round.

This is a weather/ climate problem. I've noticed that scraps placed in the bin in October or November will still be whole and recognizable in late March or April when it's time to spread the compost and till the garden plot. It's simply too cold here in the Northern Realms for the process to happen naturally. The bin itself is in the back of the yard, difficult to get to in the snowy Wisconsin winters. I'm working on this dilemma; I've placed the new composter where I can reach it in midwinter, and I plan to let the big bin sit for an additional year. Eventually, I'll be letting one sit and decompose while I fill the other, and then switch.


7. We don't use cloth bags at the grocery store - well, not all the time.

Amigo and Chuck do the grocery shopping and do it well. They prefer not to be bogged down in details like bringing bags to the store. When it's just me, I re-use the paper bags they bring home. If we're just stopping in for a few things, we use the cloth bags I keep in a convenient place at home or in the car's glove box. It's a start, and we're getting better. We hardly ever get "new" plastic bags in the house any more. Again (see #4) it's about balance.

So on we go, along the long and winding road of getting greener each day. It's discouraging sometimes, when spreading the word feels like trying to teach kids to work on their math without talking (if you know the secret, I'm listening). But as my eco-colleague says over at the Green Phone Booth, feeling overwhelmed doesn't have to mean becoming immobile.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Flea said...

Hm. I'm right there with ya on most of those. I do most of the grocery shopping and reuse the paper bags. But no coffee filters for my French press. I squishy heart the French press.

9/10/2009 9:33 AM  
Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Better paper than plastic, better minivan than SUV, better some compost than none. I think your "green" is just fine for where we live!

9/10/2009 12:08 PM  
Blogger Over Coffee - the green edition said...

I don't hang our clothes outside for the same reasons but I have a rod inside the laundry room where I hang most everything. The bigger stuff, like comforters, I hang on the shower rod. Not sexy but it works! It's the little things that add up. We all try to do our best. Wait till you read about my greenwashing purchase ;-(

9/10/2009 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Meagan said...

For laundry detegent and fabric softener I use Method. It's supposedly green, but I just started buying it because of the pretty packaging, seems to work as well as the other stuff. You can get it at target in most areas. The only down side is that the caps kind of suck, they get slimy and easily stuck.

I have some great cloth grocery bags, but I never remember to put them in the car. Ah well.

9/10/2009 6:13 PM  
Blogger Shari said...

These are so funny! We also drive a mini-van. We have twins. What else are we going to drive? We don't compost in the winter because the entire thing is frozen and the lid won't open. I think you just do the best you can and don't worry about the rest.

9/10/2009 10:19 PM  
Blogger Lisa Sharp said...

I think it's great that you are willing to be honest about this stuff. I also don't dry clothes due to allergies. I wish Oklahoma had more low pollen count days because I love putting clothes on a line but we just don't and it's not risk it.

9/12/2009 10:04 PM  

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