Each year we make some improvement, large or small, to our home. Bit by bit, as we make changes, it’s important to us to figure out how we can reduce our footprint just a little bit more.
This year we remodeled my bathroom. One of the coolest things was a reclaimed piece of 100-year-old fir that was used for the vanity top. I am the queen of the three-minute shower (I come from a family of six kids; you had to be fast or you were left with soap in your hair), but I still fret about overall water usage. So low-flow fixtures were important. If you think green during a bathroom remodel, it is one of the most effective ways to conserve water and energy.
I’ve also switched almost exclusively to using natural or organic cleaners. I have been in love with bleach for decades, blasting my sheets and towels and anything else with a smidge of dirt with its wondrous whitening abilities. My brother-in-law, who runs an environmental cleanup firm, forced me to give it up last year during a visit. Not only am I saving the environment, I’m saving much of my linen supply, and I won’t have to triple wash my towels in nonbleach water so that Mr. Sensitive Nose is happy.
One thing I do have under control is our yard and garden. We went organic when we moved in almost a decade ago. Every time I see a robin (no, really) tug a fat worm out of the ground, I remember why we try so hard not to use chemicals. We hope to begin composting, and we’re getting better at recycling. For ways to become more conscientious about how you get rid of all types of waste, see our story. If you haven’t yet read Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes, it is an eye-opening book. But Humes is optimistic, believing that small changes in our daily habits can help reduce the 102 tons of garbage that the average American will toss out in a lifetime.
Everyday actions are often the best way to make a dent in a big problem. I know it feels more doable to me. I hope this issue of Green Living gives you plenty of ideas on how to make a difference, big or small.