Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Next steps to being green

While I compost, recycle and decline plastic bags, there are certainly additional steps I can take to be green. What are my next goals? After reading the Fake Plastic Fish blog, I know I have a long way to go to reduce my use of plastic. Her list of plastic items she does without is quite impressive. Her campaign reminds me plastic is everywhere and I should reconsider items that come in plastic packaging. So says the woman putting plastic on her windows to keep out the cold. I intend to be more mindful of the items I purchase and how much plastic I am adding to my household.

I have two cats and for years, I have used Feline Pine and Swheat Scoop cat litters. They are biodegradable, are not artificially scented and the cats like them. I know I pay more, but I have disliked clay litter more and more so I made the switch about seven years ago. However, it was not until I moved into my house that I could really use the litter as mulch around the property. While experts advise against using cat litter in the vegetable garden for fear of toxoplasmosis, the soiled litter (sans solid waste) is spread around the nonedible plants. The wheat and pine break down and there is less litter going to the landfill.

However, there is still the issue of feline solid waste. Currently, plastic bags are used for holding the waste before being flushed down the toilet. I just recently found that worms can compost cat feces and am seriously considering purchasing a Pet Poo Converter. This would cut down on the trips to the toilet, the need for a supply of plastic bags (the cats are my greatest consumers of plastic bags) and I would have an enriched soil amendment. My outdoor composter is currently too cold to do anything and it likely on the two year plan to produce compost. The worm composting would give me an amendment for soil more quickly. It is an expense and I would have to plan for it, but it would lessen the water and waste footprint of my household.

I have made steps toward using fewer paper towels, but there are some messes, usually generated by cats, that I cannot use towels or cloths for. However, I have purchased some cloth napkins in a thrift store and am using those more than paper towels at home. I still find myself using paper towels at work so my next goal is having more reuseable items there. I already have glasses, dishes and silverware, but no cloth towels for drying said dishes. And if my Christmas wishes are not fulfilled, I plan on purchasing handkerchiefs. I have not used them since I was a girl, but realizing all the Kleenex I throw away each day is just wasteful, I have my heart set on washable handkerchiefs. I will still have the disposable Kleenex for colds, but everyday usage can be satisfied with a handkerchief.

I also plan on purchasing or getting much of what I need secondhand. For example, I am determined to get a used bicycle and not a new one for my experiment in short-trip commuting without gasoline. Plus I like the older styles with fenders better than the mountain bikes. I usually haunt craigslist and a local electronic classified listing to find items of interest. Otherwise, the local charity thrift shop and summer garage sales are the places to be. My goal is to purchase at least 50% of nonfood items used rather than new this next year. I may have to fire up a spreadsheet to help me keep track of all these purchases.

So these are my next steps in green living. I will likely come up with a few more as the new year progresses, but these encompass some areas I really want to focus on. Here is to less garbage and a less heavy step on the earth.

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