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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Are you making any changes to reduce impact in light of climate change?

In the wake of the coverage of Greta Thunberg and the ongoing massive horrible fires in Australia I have been thinking about how to further reduce my (our) environmental impact. We aren't big consumers but we do buy and consume and every decision has an impact. 

My recent reading has confirmed that there aren't easy answers and individual action has minimal impact - but, and this is a big but, if millions of people changed their individual actions the big companies and government would notice and have to change too.

There are two things I have seen trending online related to overall reduction of consumption - 20 for 2020 and No/Low Buy Year.

20 for 2020 is focused on only buying 20 new items of clothing and/or makeup. Now that seems like a lot but for many people it is a reduction. I'm thinking to try to limit my clothing replacements to 20 at most and make sure I really need the item before purchasing. There really is a huge excess of clothing produced in the world and much of it ends up being trashed.

No/Low Buy Years tends to be focused on debt reduction and/or consumption reduction? If you aren't driven by financial needs would you do a No/Low Buy Year to reduce your environmental impact? Of course everyone buys food, medicine, etc. and pays their bills so none of them are total No Buys. Everyone sets their own rules. I'm thinking to try to do a very low buy but then today I bought a used book and some plates at Goodwill. Hmmm.
One blog I looked at said they did a Low Buy Year and used the money they saved to have amazing experiences. The general guidelines for their experiment was to not buy any non-consumable goods during the year. Non-consumable meant: clothes, shoes, furniture, home decor/furnishings, books, toys, electronics, etc. Consumable items that were okay to buy were things like food, printer paper, soap, makeup, and things that could be used up completely. If a non-consumable item broke, or wore out, it could be replaced with one similar. (But worn out shoes weren’t a green light for a shoe-shopping spree). They also set out to better use the items owned, and organize and get rid of things not loved or used.

Another new trend at least in Europe is to avoid plane travel do to the amount of fuel used and its impact. Of course they have other transportation alternatives that are efficient such as good train systems. 

And then there are the good old standards. Drive less. Avoid plastic packaging. Eliminate food waste. Reduce your water, electricity and other utility use. I have notice that since we aren't billed directly for our water in this home (and therefore have no idea how much we are using), we have slacked off on conserving.

What I have started or resumed doing:

1. Cut the number of cleaning products down to the bare essentials and using non-toxic ones except for grout mildew remover and toilet cleaner. There must be a good substitutes for those - I'll have to research it.
2. Invested in e-Cloth scrubbing pads instead of the standard sponge scrubbers and also their stainless steel cleaning cloth which works well on the sink instead of spray. I already had and like the glass cleaning cloths and floor mop.
3. Reusing produce plastic bags until they are skanky and then using them as poop bags. We have used reusable grocery bags for years.
4. Recommitting to getting books only from the library or secondhand from friends or the Friends of the Library bookstore - and then returning real books to the same bookstore after reading them.
5. I'm using up dryer sheets and then will start using dryer balls for softening.
6. Trying to turn the computer off midday or when I will be gone. No need to have it running in the background. The printer is off unless being used.
7. Using our window shutters to help control inside temperature depending upon the sun, wind and outside temps.
8. Planning errands to reduce driving.
9. Not automatically throwing clothes in the was after wearing. We don't sweat in the winter and I am using silk undershirt with a lot of my tops so I can wash less. Not ready to join the never wash your jeans club lol.
10. Continue with essentially no food waste. We do love leftovers and try to save them in a washable container rather than plastic wrap covering.

What I can't or won't change right now:

1. Our soft water makes our dog sick so she drinks bottled water. And she eats canned food (as we do some) and there are those plastic poop bags. We do recycle the plastic jugs and cans.
2. We are required to put our trash out in plastic bags so simply can try to make sure they are full and minimize our trash.
3. We have year round allergies and do use paper kleenex.
4. Plastic toiletry, laundry and dish soap containers.
5. We don't know our water consumption as it is not direct billed so will simply have to try to minimize without feedback.

I've got a mental list of things I want to do and/or try.

Has anyone else been thinking about and acting on this? What are you doing?

17 comments:

  1. This is a great post, reminding us that the politicians have a roll in this. But so do we! I've patted myself on the back in the past simply because I never bought or drove a gas-guzzling SUV. And we hardly ever use the a/c. (It's 80 degrees? Then put on a t-shirt and shorts!). But we have to do more. My next car will be electric ... or maybe a bicycle. My next trip to Florida is by train, not by airplane. And, yes, we have just recently sworn off bottled water. As you point out, we all have to make changes.

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    1. I'll be interested to hear about your train trip to Florida Tom. I do think you have more options for train travel on the east coast than we do on the west.

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  2. Great ideas for all of us to consider. I'd add that we all need to be on the look out for new products that are quickly coming online like plastic bags that break down quicker. I've found them for dog poop and waste basket liners. And supporting the products that have made an effort to reduce their packaging.

    I had to laugh at the 20 for 2020. I'd have to increase my clothing buying to get any where near that.

    I don't buy bottled water for the house...our is very good tasting. But I would like to commit to carrying my stainless steel bottle when I go out. The only time I buy water is when I'm out and about and will buy one at the gas station.

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    1. Carrying your stainless steel bottle with you is a great idea. We do drink our tap water - just the chronically ill dog can't. We do keep a supply of bottled water for earthquake survival though. I need to start carrying my coffee travel mug with me!

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  3. Frugality and reducing environmental impact go hand-in-hand. It's a lifestyle not a fad. The temp outside is currently -40. I haven't turned the furnace up from 20C. Some people would call that temp indulgent. Instead, I've put on layers. I'm not running any other major appliances in order to conserve power. Hopefully other people will do the same and the grid can maintain power supply during this cold spell.

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    1. I hadn't thought about the power grid angle!

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  4. I'm doing other things as part of the 20 for 20 challenge , and a mainly used challenge that I will share either today or tomorrow. I agree that saving money and the planet often go hand in hand.

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    1. Look forward to hear what else you are doing.

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  5. I read The Conscious Closet and I am appalled at the environmental and social cost of clothing. I'm not sure about 20 ut I am going to record my purchases. I am also trying to cut back on single use plastics in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry. I'm buying eco-strips for laundry detergent and will use bar shampoo when my current product is used up.
    I've been reading used books, library and online books but I must admit I bought a few new books on our driving trip. I have not driven in a few years and I am committed to making as few trips in a car as possible. We all can make small changes.

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    1. Good and scary book wasn't it? I may not buy 20 items but I am counting every clothing and accessory purchase including replacing my watch. I haven't heard of eco-strips and will investigate. Laundry is such an impact and lets not even talk about the release of microplastics from washing polyester containing garments.

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  6. I have been trying to cut back on single use plastics but sometimes need plastic for kitty litter disposal. I do take my homemade bags with me shopping, and hope to have some produce bags made very soon.

    I am using the library more, hunting for usable fabric and yarn at yard sales, and rummage sales.

    Not driving as much and doing more walking. I really think one of those pull type shopping carts for all seasons except the winter would be wonderful. My Mom had one she used all the time as she did not drive.

    God bless.

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    1. Yes to not driving as much. I really should take more advantage of the bus.

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  7. Funny you should ask!! I have been thinking more about what little things we can do to make a difference at our house. Washing out cat food cans to recycle. Using glass storage for leftovers rather than plastic that, after a few reheatings in the microwave, looks pretty disgusting and has to be replaced. Dinner plates instead of plastic plates. Metal straws. Not world changing things but baby steps. Thank you for your list and suggestions.

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    1. I haven't switched to glass storage yet but am trying not to microwave the plastic storage containers to prolong their life.

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  8. Oh, so much good food for thought here (and not to be wasted). My opinion (not that you asked for it) on the plates is that they aren't new, and it was so you can avoid paper when feeding large groups (I think that's what I remember from a previous post). Doesn't Non-Consumer Katie talk about 1st generation consumables bad, but 2nd generation (thrifted items) are better if not okay?

    As for cleaning the toilets, I do a deep clean once, and then do a daily 'swish and swipe' a la Flylady...and she says that 'soap is soap' so use a drop or two of a non-favorite shampoo or hand soap that is languishing in the cabinet in the toilet and a quick brushing every day, it will only need another deep clean on the rare occasion that way.

    We have a water well, so no billing on it either. But we live in a drought-prone area, so I worry about wells in our area starting to run dry in the summer time. I have cut down on single-wear laundry. Lightly worn means it gets hung back up for another wear these days.

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    1. Good idea to swish the toilets daily with a bit of soap. Wonder if baking soda would work too?

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    2. Baking soda is a great idea. I think the idea of the soap/shampoo is to use up what you have handy, and it smells nice. :) I've also sprinkled baking soda, and then used a spray bottle with vinegar to wet it down causing some foaming action.

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