It's interesting to read articles about all the positive changes we can make to contribute to our world by going green and becoming more energy efficient, saving our environment and reducing our carbon footprint, and hopefully leave a legacy for our grandchildren. Some of what we achieve although it may seem insignificant, if many people, and businesses, contribute, changes can happen. So here is what we have been doing (or not as the case may be) for our health, our home and for our environment, during the last two years. Changes we have made (all in random order).
Going Green in the Home
- Drastically reduced the purchase and use of plastic products used in the home, from storage containers to utensils (use glass or recyclable products)
- No caustic cleaners – use vinegar or non toxic all purpose cleaner with biodegradable natural ingredients and other “green” products.
- Air fresheners – use natural oils and open windows for cross ventilation (yes, even in winter)
- Turn off the water when cleaning teeth ( a huge amount of water goes down the drain)
- Home already had low flow water saver shower heads installed (so we cannot take credit for that)
- Greatly reduced use of clothes dryer – use two clothes horses all year – this is a big energy saver and the sun dried clothes (especially bed linen) have a fresh fragrance
- Turn down the thermometer every night and if chilly during the day put on socks and a sweater
- Switching to natural products such as 100% wool blankets and 100% cotton linen
- Often wash dishes by hand and only use dishwasher for large loads (usually when we have company)
- Replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones as the old ones burn out
- Turning off computers and unplugging coffee machine when not in use
The throw-away society is on the increase. Over consumption is firmly entrenched ...
The oceans are being seriously degraded due to overfishing, coastal development and pollution.
Mass species extinction continues almost unchecked.
John Spicer, “Biodiversity” page 151, Oneworld Publications 2006
(Three of the 10 startling sustainable development failures from 2002 International Institute for Sustainable Development)
Food and Cooking Changes
- No purchase of any packaged, over processed foods with preservatives or additives (especially MSG)
- 90% of the time eat organic whole wheat, oat, or spelt flour, whole wheat or rice pasta, etc.
- Rarely consume “meat” when dining alone - that makes me a part time vegetarian?
- Biggest adjustment, challenge and achievement – cooking from “scratch” whenever possible
- Purchase local free range, organic eggs
- Purchase “antibiotic and hormone free, no animal by product” fed beef
- Thoroughly enjoy our delectable freshly caught and home canned salmon from the Fraser River
- Always buy local produce if we have a choice – prefer organic
- No "sugar"! Almost totally eliminated sugar consumption (white sugar, corn syrup) for over a year – this is a BIG one! (Some coffee shops provide honey with their coffee – sweet!). Substitute honey and pure maple syrup or simply go without.
- No pop! We drink mostly homemade (diluted) or 100% organic juice and once in a while add soda with our homemade juices.
- Revising and converting recipes. This is ongoing through trial and error with new and old recipes.
- The salt shaker has not been on our table for many years !
We, all of us, have it in our hands to destroy, to protect or even to renew the Earth's living resources. Through our daily way of life, we help to determine whether we are going to leave our children a devastated planet, or one which is a worthy home for all living creatures."
~ John Seymour
Changes in the Garden
- “Old” toxic herbicides, fungicides and pesticides disposed of
- Established an organic vegetable garden (we are into year two)
- We are eating freshly picked produce daily during the summer months, especially incredibly sweet tasting tomatoes, herbs, greens and of course my old favourites rhubarb, swiss chard, zucchini and whatever other vegetables we can find room to grow
- Preserve (can) our own organically grown produce
- We are starting a new trend for front lawns – its moss ! No mowing or watering or noise pollution ! This project is currently an ongoing family "debate"
- Back lawn is not watered during summer (just the veggie garden)
- No (new) preserved wood – wood is VOC stained to last longer
- Not one but – three compost bins – all full for the coming gardening season
- Conserve water by mulching both the vegetable and flower gardens
- Install extra insulation in the attic to further reduce heating use and costs
- Expand the vegetable garden by 100%
- Add a greenhouse
- Purchase or make a rain barrel (or two)
- Continue searching for affordable, local produce
Benefits from Going Green
Restore some of the balance of nature in our yard which teams with worms in the soil, ladybirds and bees, and many birds from finches, sparrows, nesting robins, hummingbirds to blue jays. We are consciously recycling and as a result our "take away" disposable garbage amounts to one or two small garbage cans per month. The city where we live is bringing in a compost recycling program to reduce waste by an extraordinary amount and sell the compost. Really great idea!
Some of these changes have resulted in a significant reduction in our Equal Payment Plans for our gas and hydro in a time when both rates are increasing
Benefits from choice of food has improved our overall health incredibly. We are enjoying preparing our meals from scratch and the resulting delicious taste of our food
Cutting down on "chemicals" in all areas of our lives - we really don't want any toxins around our home which say "Keep out of reach of children and pets". Definitely a hazard.
It may not always be easy or convenient, and often time consuming but the enjoyment and fun have been worth it
We feel we have learned so much in the areas of health, diets, allergies, gardening and food preservation and there is a plethora of related topics we have not even scatched the surface of
Saving the best for last:
This is amazing and the reason we changed our Lifestyle especially our diet and food selection - no health emergencies, no "angiodema" reactions, no twinjet administration, or late night visits to hospital for almost two years. Yes!
We don't always manage 100% as some of these changes are more challenging than others but we keep trying and it is a great sense of accomplishment. Although there is always room for improvement; we are happy with these modifications to make our lifestyle more positive for ourselves and our environment. It's a beginning as we continue to learn and we persevere and are surprised, in hindsight, how "easy" it has been and the bonus of good health has been astronomically inspiring.
There are lots of other great ideas, but the foregoing is what we have achieved in the past two years! Every change starts with a first step ... best wishes to all in 2012 as we strive to improve our health, conserve our energy and reduce our carbon footprint.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
(Biodivesity) seems to mean different things to different people.
Biodiversity definition: the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and ecological complexes of which they are a part ... diversity within species between species and of ecosystems.”
John Spicer, “Biodiversity”, page 2, Oneworld Publications, 2006
Links & References:
~ Biodiversity definition - the Convention on Biological Diversity
~ Professor John Spicer, University of Plymouth
~ John Seymour (author)
~ International Union for Conservation of Nature Biodiversity definition
~ Canadian Biodiversity website (McGill University) Species at Risk
- "Blueprint for a Green Planet" by John Seymour and Herbert Girardet, Dorling Kindersley, 1987
- "Green Future" by Lorraine Johnson, Penguin Books, 1990
- "The Canadian Green Consumer Guide", McClelland & Stewart, 1989