Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Environmental Meme

FranIam tagged me for this one. It's not really a "meme" in the usual sense, but more of a challenge. A challenge to the participant to come up with one way to lessen his or her environmental impact in the coming year. Here it is word-for-word from Fran's blog:

Try to think of one way you and your family can lessen your environmental impact in 2008. You could consider doing something relatively easy--like giving up paper plates and napkins (yup, more dishes and laundry, but oh so worth it at trash-time)--or more difficult--like trying to carpool more (which can be a pain, but saves a ton in gas money, not to mention in saved emissions). It doesn't have to be hard--it could be something as simple as trying one of those new fluorescent bulbs in your desk lamp. How about it?

This isn't as easy as you might think. DH and I already do recycle our newspapers, bottles (both plastic and glass) and cardboard.

Luckily our town picks it up in front of our house or we'd probably be too lazy to take it to the recycling center.

I remember when I was younger my parents took their newspapers and bottles to the recycling center way "before it was cool" - before there was even curb pick-up of recycling. I have to admit I'd never have been so dedicated. It's easy to talk the talk about the environment, but not so easy to walk the walk. (I hate that cliche' but it's true).

We have been replacing our lightbulbs with the fluorescent ones throughout the house, so we can check that off.

DH used to take the train to work - which was environmentally good - but now drives due to a change in job location. And he doesn't carpool. Neither do I. And given how late I usually come to work and how late I stay, it isn't likely to happen in the near future.

However, we do have cars with relatively good gas mileage and do not own an SUV so we have to take some credit for that.

OK, so what can we do to lessen our environmental impact? Yes, it's the paper plate and napkin thing. I admit it. We use paper plates for dinner every night because we're so bad about getting around to emptying the dishwasher so that it's ready to receive new dirty dishes.

The funny thing is, when we're on vacation on Cape Cod and don't have a dishwasher, we actually use real dishes and just hand wash them. You don't need to empty the dishwasher first, you see. Another example of how modern conveniences actually make things more complicated.

The question I have, however, is this: What is the balance between the amount of trash generated, and the amount of waste of perfectly good trees, embodied in the use of paper plates, versus the energy and water used to run the dishwasher, or in the case of the cloth napkins, the washing machine and dryer? I would need to know which is worse before I commit to this!

Anyone have some statistics they could cite?

In the meantime I will make a partial commitment. Every other night I'll use real plates and cloth napkins. How's that? It can't hurt!

Now, who to tag?

Pygalgia
Randal
Enigma4Ever (Watergate Summer)

Have fun with it!

14 comments:

DCup said...

Hi, Maui. Sounds like you're ahead of the curve on some of those things you can do to lessen your environmental impact.

I've often wondered the same thing about the use of the dishwasher versus paper plates.

M said...

We did this last year, but I'm gonna write it here anyway. We bought some small kitchen towels to use as napkins for eating so we don't have to use disposable napkins. We do the same in the kitchen and use towels and rags instead of paper towels except on occasion, when we have something going on like a big dinner or something where we might buy paper towels. I'm sure as the year goes on, we'll adopt more env. friendly habits again--I prefer doing it naturally as the idea arises than setting a goal for it now. I have so many goals as it is anyway!!

pygalgia said...

I'm not sure how much I can add. I'm already on CFL's, I live car-free, and I'm using canvas when I get groceries. I could eat better, but it wouldn't be much of a change.

Mauigirl said...

Thanks, DCup, but I'm sure I could be better. Whenever I fill out one of those "What's your carbon footprint" quizzes, my footprint is bigger than it should be!

M, thanks for the suggestion - my husband is always scolding me for using paper towels in the kitchen to wipe things up instead of a sponge or rag. I'll try to do more of the sponge/rag thing! Maybe that should be my real resolution.

Pygalgia, I had a feeling you were already pretty close to excellent on the environmental front from what I've learned about you! Perhaps your post can be about all the things you already do to help the environment, to give me some ideas!

FranIAm said...

This is great Mauigirl.

Mauigirl said...

I'm proud to report I used real dishes tonight! That's once! Let's see how long I can keep it up!

enigma4ever said...

okay...I will have to think on this...the meme...but I am thinking....

Friend #2 said...

Yes, but did you actually wash them or are they pilled up on the counter/sink? :-)

Mauigirl said...

Friend #2, piled up in the kitchen sink, OF COURSE!

Good luck, Enigma!

pygalgia said...

If I could, I'd recapture and reuse more "gray water", but it would take some major modification on the house, and we're renters. It's the one change I wish I could make.
I have, for years, tried to be as environmentally responsible as I can. One of the simple steps is to look at "waste". As you throw something away, think about how you could avoid having it in the first place. Think about what your Grandparents used in it's place. A lot of "modern convenience" isn't needed.

Mauigirl said...

Pygalgia, good advice. If nothing else, this meme has made me more conscious of what I am doing. I picked up my paper napkin to have with my breakfast this morning and thought about it. I used it anyway but at least I thought about it! ;-) And I'll be less apt to take more than one or use paper towels to clean up, as M mentioned before.

The gray water thing is a good idea. Can you use it to water the garden?

Dorothy said...

Sounds like a plan, I can do some of these things.. We already recycle cans, bottles, and paper.

It's patterns, and I am becoming more conscience of less paper more cyberspace...

Dorothy from grammology
remember to call gram
http://grammology.com

enigma4ever said...

okay....hmmm, I love this..what a great challenge. Sounds like you are doing a great job...

(1) I only drive when absolutely needed....and otherwise I walk to the market...even picked where to live so I could do that....

(2)only do laundry three times week- to save energy and water....keep heat set at 62 and only turn on 12 hours /day ( but I have a broken heater so that is harder than it sounds)....

(3).I bought a vintage bike last year- but I am still fixing it up- but this summer I am riding...

(4) hmm, what to do...2006 I gave up ALL papers- only read online pappers...
I don't know what to add...

I should think of something...I know....the First Monday of every month I will focus- BLOG on Earth /Global Damage Issues...how does that sound ?

Mauigirl said...

Dorothy, I think you're right, it's about becoming more conscious of waste in our daily lives.

Enigma, you already do a lot to help the environment - I'm impressed! That's a great idea to blog about the subject regularly - it always helps to spread the word!