Living Greener?

My friend Sierra has a great post up about talking to your spouse about greener living.  It got me thinking about one of the goals I have in this staying home experiment: to live greener.

On the surface, choosing to stay home appears to be a naturally greener choice.  I’m no longer driving 60 miles a day, for starters.  And being home allows me the time and energy to make better choices.  I can cook healthier, better produced food and skip on the fast food and restaurant meals.  I can cut down all the waste produced by buying “convenience” packaging.

One thing I’m trying to work on now is stopping my use of paper towels.  I discussed the idea of getting rid of paper towels all together with my husband.  He vetoed that one, but we compromised and discussed ways to significantly reduce the amount we use, such as moving the paper towels to a less convenient place and making reusable towels more accessible.

I have other long-term goals as well.  I would like to try gardening again, although perhaps on a smaller scale than we did when we first moved to the country. (We produced three green beans…)  And the other thing is that just by cutting our income in half, it limits our ability to make poor environmental choices.  I can’t afford to order whatever I want off Amazon and have them ship me something new.  Instead, I’m forced to swap books or buy used.  The necessity of being more frugal inevitably leads to a greener lifestyle.

But then there are aspects of my new life that make me wonder.  Since I’m cooking every day, that uses more energy both to cook the food and more energy and water to do a load of dishes every day, when we used to get by with running the dishwasher twice a week.  Using all those hand towels is going to make me do more loads of laundry, again, driving up our energy usage.  Not to mention just being home, having lights, computer, TV or climate control on during the day.  Now, I do try to make wise choices about things like when to turn on the heat, and we do everything we can to limit our appliances’ energy use (washing on cold, not using heated dry on dishes, etc).   But I wonder how far ahead I really end up at the end of the day.

Well, it’s food for thought, and a continuing goal.

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4 thoughts on “Living Greener?

  1. Susan says:

    Re: Cooking at home using more energy. One thing many experts on frugal and green living recommend is to make the most of each time you turn on the oven, etc., so that the energy you’re paying for goes as far as possible. For instance, if you’re baking a dish of enchiladas, also go ahead and bake a loaf of bread, or cookies/brownies, or anything else that cooks at around the same temperature. You’ve heated up the oven, so might as well use it. Or cook another batch of whatever you are cooking and freeze it for later.

    I do this. If I’m going to fire up my oven for, say, a casserole, I’ll also throw some baking potaotes in the back. If I make spaghetti sauce, I’ll put some eggs on to boil when I move the sauce pot off the burner — and rather than that hot burner just sending left over heat into the air, it cooks a second thing.

    The added bonus is, when you cook ahead, there can be days that your oven and burners never come on, or come on only briefly to heat something up.

    On cold days, I do lots of cooking and am able to turn my heat down. I bake, and do several things that boil. This adds heat and moisture into the air.

    As for paper towels, I will attest that cat ownership means there are things that need cleaning that are just too nasty to wash out of a wash rag, and I use paper. But I use few for anything else. I bought a back of cheap washcloths (12 for $3 or something) that I use as napkins when I eat. I have a couple ShamWOWs! that were also worth the price.

    • Kim says:

      Yes, this is all a way to convince Justin that I need Shamwows. 😉

      I really need to get better organized in cooking and cooking ahead. It’s not something I’ve ever been good at, so that’s a process. Although I do love my new slowcooker for that reason. I made a big batch of chicken breasts on tuesday that then became really excellent chicken salad and I haven’t had to cook again this week.

  2. thetexturedknitter says:

    I’m guessing you’re already a convert to using recycled TP?

    Seconding that life with cats = need for disposable paper towels.

    If you ever have occasion to buy a new oven/range, get one like the Maytag Gemini that has a small, one-rack oven (the size of a usual broiler tray) and a full sized oven. Cooking for just two people, I use my little oven 95% of the time. Heats up faster, uses less energy, heats the room less (which, face it, is what we want most months of the year in these parts). I could’ve spit nails when a friend of my mom’s was talked out of getting one of these ovens by a salesguy who told her “it’s only good for reheating pizza”. Aaaargh!

    • Kim says:

      I’m guessing you’re already a convert to using recycled TP?

      Well, actually, we used to, but we stopped being able to find the brand we did use. All that our local stores have has been very…uncomfortable. And since my husband has medical reason for needing cushy TP, we splurge on that.

      Good tip about the oven, although I hope I won’t have to buy one for quite a while.

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