Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Make Every Day Earth Day

I know the title is rather cliche, but perhaps if it keeps getting repeated, we'll all eventually take it to heart. In honor of Earth Day, I'm sharing some of the things I do to make every day Earth Day.

  • I live inside the Lakeland city limits, where recycling is almost too easy. Here's what goes in my recycling bin each week: glass (clear and colored), steel cans, plastic bottles with a #1 or #2 on them, newspaper, office paper, empty cereal boxes, magazines, basically any fiber that I can tear. I also learned this morning that the 40-pound bags my chicken feed comes in can go in the recycling bins because there's no plastic lining inside them.
  • I recycle the aluminum on my own because the recycling center is nearby and I get cash for it!
  • I have a compost bin. All of my non-meat food scraps go in there, as well as shredded paper, leaves and grass clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and paper towels. Placing these items in a compost bin instead of the garbage greatly reduces the amount of trash I dispose of every week.
  • I recently attended a Florida Yards & Neighborhoods rain barrel workshop and purchased two rain barrels. Now I can collect up to 110 gallons of water when it rains and use that to wash my car, water my plants, hose off garden tools, and rinse off my dirty feet before I go inside.
  • I use cloth napkins with meals to cut down on my use of paper towels and napkins.
  • I cut up old socks and use them as dish rags.
  • Old T-shirts go into the rag bucket in the workshop.
  • I hold a little contest with myself every year to see how long I can go without turning on the air in the spring, and how long I can go without turning on the heat in the winter. I open all my windows and as the sun crosses the sky, I close the windows and curtains where the sun will beat in and heat up the house, and vice versa in the fall/winter.
  • I turn off ceiling fans when I'm not in the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
  • I ride my bicycle to run errands as often as I can, so I don't have to use my car. The less I use it, the less harmful stuff I'm putting into the air, and the farther I can stretch my diesel. At $4.11 per gallon, I'm doing this to save money as much as to do right by the environment.
  • Ziploc bags that I've used and rinsed out are donated to the SPCA, where they can use them to bag dog food and dog treats for foster parents.
  • Old cell phones, rechargeable batteries and used ink jet cartridges are donated to Keep Polk County Beautiful for recycling. The cell phones and ink cartridges actually generate a bit of income for the organization.
  • I use canvas or other reusable bags for shopping, rather than plastic bags.
  • If I buy just a couple of items from a store, I tell the clerk I don't need a bag.
  • I recycle egg cartons, styrofoam food trays and plastic bags at Publix. This includes the plastic bags The Ledger is delivered in, as well as bread bags, fruit bags, empty cereal bags, etc.
  • I've replaced about half the light bulbs in my home with Energy Star bulbs that last longer and use less electricity. I'm working on replacing all of them.
  • I buy some groceries in bulk, and I try not to purchase items that contain excessive packaging. Some food packaging that is particularly irksome to me and I avoid at all costs are the little individual pudding, fruit and jello cups, Lunchables, and anything packaged in microwavable/discardable containers, like chili, soup, mashed potatoes, etc.
  • I recycle Christmas cards by cutting out the pictures and making new cards with them.
  • I make my own glass and all-purpose cleaners using more Earth-friendly incredients, such as vinegar, baking soda and ammonia.
  • When the weather is nice, I hang my clothes on the line to dry, instead of throwing them in the dryer.

Other tips I've learned about that I'm considering implementing:

  • Place a brick or a half-gallon jug of water in your toilet's tank. This will reduce the amount of water used by the toilet.
  • When taking a shower, turn off the water while shaving, soaping up or shampooing hair.

Now it's your turn. What are some things you do to be kinder to the environment? Let's share, and maybe we'll all pick up a few new tips.

Happy Earth Day!


KFJ said...

WOW!!!! You gave me like a bizillion ideas!!!! You are my recycling hero :)

Anonymous said...

You sure make a Mama proud, child!

Don't forget, if folks shred their junk mail - not only do they help prevent identity theft in the bazillion credit card offers they get - but can use the shreds as "brown matter" in the compost pile, or as mulch in the garden - to help reduce moisture loss, and mine helped mechanically protect JUST transplanted tiny tomato and pepper plants when we had 2 nights of 30s last week.

Look how many of your tips help reduce energy COSTS that come directly out of our pockets, as well. Everybody wins!

Worth just what it cost you, which also is the cost of the wonderful compost and mulch!

Anonymous said...

I stopped exhaling in the late 60s.

Jan Doble said...

Lorrie, you had me at hello! no, seriously, you are amazing--i didn't even think of many of those things you're doing; i need to take inventory and make some changes! i do recycle though...what i 'think' of...and i have my windows open at the moment. take care--

Anonymous said...

The recycling guide at www.lakelandgov.net clearly states:


We can ONLY accept flattened - corrugated cardboard with a 3' X 3' size limit. Please place cardboard under the container.

NO - Paperboard (Cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc.)

NO - Pizza boxes or waxed coated boxes.

But you say you put cereal boxes in your bin. You haven't had any problems with that?

Lorrie said...

Nope, I haven't had any problem with the recycling man picking up paperboard, such as cereal boxes and cracker boxes, etc. I recall speaking to the city's recycling coordinator about paperboard several years ago. As I recall, she said they could accept it as long as it was a small percentage of the total cardboard collected? I'm going to follow up on this and I hope to write more about it when I get some definitive information.