Environmental Science in this House

I have been shopping, and tomorrow a carton containing 96 rolls of toilet paper will arrive on my front porch.  Yes, I recognize that most of you shop for paper products in the grocery store and bring them home in more modest quantities.  My shopping methods arise from a serious attempt at obtaining ecologically protective products at reasonable prices.  My toilet paper is 100% recycled paper, right down to the individual wrappers.  I found it like this:  on Google.com I entered “recycled bathroom tissue”.  It gave me a list of umpteen items and I started at the top, looking at products to see what their prices were and comparing percent of recycled material used.  When I found some likely candidates, I screened for free shipping deals.  That led me to the one I ordered this time. 

I was a teen in the time of the “energy crisis” of the 1970s, and I remember our first efforts at conserving energy.  My father was a fiend about turning off lights as we left a room.  We carpooled.  That was all that we knew about conservation, but we did it faithfully. 

Cut to 2005.  My daughter was a junior in prep school and chose to take Advanced Placement Environmental Science.  Her teacher, a PhD in environmental science who has also participated in some local initiatives for environmental education and development, inspired her to bring everything that she learned home.  Dayna transformed our household.  These are some of the measures that ensued:

1.  Recycling

  • We had not recycled since we moved to a suburb with no curbside pickup.  Dayna found the nearest recycle center and set up containers to collect glass, 1 & 2 plastics, aluminum cans, and corrugated cardboard. 
  • Two months ago Dayna attacked our “mixed paper” situation.  We now have containers for paper, including magazines and journals, advertising, wrappers that don’t touch food, and packaging from all kinds of products.
  • Our awareness has increased to choosing to buy products with wrappers or packaging that is recyclable. 

2.  Energy

  • We bundle errands and try to make fewer, shorter trips in the car.  Routes are planned to minimize distance and avoid heavy traffic times.
  • In the summer we purchase gas at night.
  • Our thermostat is set at 66 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.  Yesterday, the woman who cleans once a week asked if something was wrong with the heat.  We are accustomed to the temperature and don’t even have to add extra clothing in winter.  Summer is still a challenge, as I don’t tolerate being warm.  It exaggerates my chronic lack of energy.  We maintain about 70 degrees in summer.
  • We unplug appliances that aren’t in daily use. 
  • About 60% of our light bulbs are compact fluorescents.  The recent claims of fluorescents causing migraine are only anecdotal reports.  There is not a single scientific study that reports that as a cause of migraine, and migraine triggers have been extensively studied for many decades.

3.  Composting

  • This was far and away the most difficult for me to accept, but it turned out to be easier than expected.
  • A huge Rubbermaid container sits in our back yard.  I drilled holes all over it before I placed it outside. 
  • We keep a plastic container by the kitchen sink.  All vegetable and fruit scraps go into it.  Carbohydrates go in if they are not saturated with oils.  No meat or meat products or oils can be used.  Coffee grounds are also recycled this way.
  • It took a while to get the moisture thing right.  When we are low on rain, I include the broths from cooking vegetables and other liquids that would be tossed into the sink.
  • It’s been two years and we have a continuous supply of wonderful dirt for my vegetable pot garden on the deck and for potted plants in the house.

4.  Knitting and Crocheting (yeah, baby!)

  • When Dayna began her Environmental Science course, I had just begun to knit and crochet again.  I was inspired to take out a crochet hook and some cotton yarn and make shopping bags.  I remembered the string bags that all the German women carried to market when I was a child there.  Those bags could be squished into no space at all and crammed into a pocketbook or pocket.  They seemed to expand endlessly, accepting far more groceries than their size seemed to suggest.  The bags were also very strong.  Here’s one of mine: bluegreenyellowshoppingbag.jpg           And here’s one stuffed: redmultishoppingbagc.jpg
  • The biggest problem with the grocery bags is remembering to carry them with you.
  • Also a problem:  convincing the bone-headed grocery clerk to put the groceries in your bags and not theirs.  They stare at you like you have three eyes. 
  • My daughter would not let me make a bag for her environmental science teacher.  She didn’t want to be seen as a suck-up.  But I will gladly send one to the professor if she contacts me now.  Sorry, Doc! 
  • I prefer using natural animal yarns like wool, alpaca and mohair from reputable companies that treat their animals humanely.  Smaller companies and companies that buy directly from the growers are my first choices.  Additionally, I’ve become familiar with the incredible array of plant fibers available as yarns.  This bag was knit from banana fiber (shop.the hungersite.com):bananapouchblackc1.jpgIt is a thick strand with amazing sheen.  This top was knit from soy fiber (South West Trading Company Phoenix):soysilktankback.jpg
  • and this tank is undyed organic cotton (Pakucho Organic Cotton), which is available in at least nine different colours:greenwhitecottontankfront.jpg
  • I also have corn that I haven’t used yet, and I’ve been reading about aloo.  Of course there’s also linen and hemp and this is a woman’s top from bamboo (a wonderful, rapidly growing plant with a myriad of uses in this instance South West Trading Company’s Bamboo):   bamboopinktank.jpgand this silky scarf is also bamboo (Plymouth Royal Bamboo): bambooscarf.jpg      All of the pictured items are in my inventory, pieces that I designed and knit or crocheted.  As always, if you see something you want, let me know!  Sales can always be arranged.  After all, recycled toilet paper ain’t free!

Peace!

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One Response

  1. Nice article today. I like to recycle. Bob doesn’t like for it to pile up, so I try to go atleast once a week to the recycle center. I also come home with recycled bottles for melting. They don’t care if I take some bottles home. Blue are hard to get, so I try to watch for them at the recycle place. Debbie

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