Stomping Out My Carbon Footprint

I’ve been contemplating my carbon footprint lately. Thinking about little ways that I can make a difference. I already have strong personal feelings about walking when I can, recycling, buying local, wearing classic clothing that will last for seasons – preferably years (or buying secondhand to begin with), saving and using items I’ve already got, gardening, making purchases with less packaging, etc.

So when I went online to calculate my actual footprint, I was aghast at the results. Admittedly, I did not know the exact answers to many of the questions off the top of my head, but made my best estimated guesses just to get an idea.

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Well, I am ashamed to admit that it is significantly larger than I would have thought. In fact, it is larger than the average American. What!? I don’t fly, drive recreational motor vehicles, have a sauna or heated pool or jacuzzi… and our house is one step away from being featured as a “tiny home.” Luckily, a footprint can be significantly lowered with some minor changes. Here are a few things I have learned during  my research. Some will not only be easier on the environment but will save you a decent amount of cash over time and many are good for your health as well. (Bear with me if these are not new to you.)

img_7004Power down your gadgets. Unplugging your chargers when not in use, and putting your computer into sleep mode can save you hundreds of dollars and help save the planet.

Adjust your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two in winter. This can also save you 15% on your heating bill.

Invest in a programmable thermostat that can be set to shut off, or dramatically reduce the temperature setting, when you will not be at home.

img_6900It may be a little cliche, but I love this one. Plant a tree. One 10 year old tree releases enough oxygen to support two human lives.

Wean your family from processed foods. Go vegan or raw a couple of days a week. We already have Meatless Mondays at our house, so this is not too much of a stretch for us.

Switch from disposable household products to reusable. Eliminate paper towels and other paper products, invest in reusable sandwich bags, bento boxes, etc. Use your own totes at the grocery store, and buy biodegradable trash bags.

If you live someplace where public transportation is an option, utilize it. But if you can’t, even driving the posted speed limit (or 5 miles less when you can), and avoiding rapid acceleration and braking can alter your fuel consumption.

And of course, my all-time favorite – hang your laundry out in the fresh air and sunshine to dry instead of using the dryer. It will smell wonderful, eliminates most wrinkles, (Hey! No using up electricity to iron either!) and the UV rays from the sun will naturally fade stains on fabric.

I have found that The Great Energy Challenge website is a reasonable place to start. So much information there, and practical ideas for you and your family to begin a new “energy diet.” I will definitely be incorporating several of these ideas into our lifestyle. Some we are already doing, and some may take us a while to implement. But, we’ve got to start somewhere. I believe that by slowly integrating any of these practices into our everyday it will collectively make a difference.

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Isaiah 24:4-5 “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants … .”

Psalm 96:11-13 “Let the heavens rejoice and the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord….”

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Ways for Women: Update

If you are squeamish, or a man, be forewarned – look away!

As I have been contemplating ways to simplify my life, and be a better steward of God’s Earth, one thing I have been thinking about for quite some time is trying cloth menstrual pads. There are many styles and companies from which to choose once you actually start looking into these.

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So, I recently ordered a set online (through Amazon from a company named Hailicare) and for the first time… EVER… I am eagerly awaiting that time of the month to try them out. I have to admit they are cute and fold up nicely into a img_6966little envelope-style for transport. I also ordered a set of two wet/dry zipper bags (by Dutchess) for carrying and storage until they can be washed. I will update you on the ins and outs of usage once I have had the opportunity to give them a try.

Simply said, my understanding is img_6965that they are easily hand washed, or run through your laundry, and then hung to dry. Some reviews I read suggested to rinse them out while in the shower, which seemed to be the preference of many. I will try all methods and let you know my thoughts.

Until then, looking forward to trying these little cuties, saving money, and leaving a bit smaller environmental footprint!

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UPDATE:

I recently had the opportunity to give these a “go” and wanted to let you know how it went. They were as easy to use as the disposable  commercial variety and were not a hassle at all. They are easy to clean, comfortable, undetectable, and much more fun to see zebras smiling up at you than the usual dread!

I promised that I would try the different methods of cleaning, and as not to disappoint, as well as to discover what works best for me, I did just that.

First I tried what seemed to be the most popular method that I had read – lying it on the shower floor while you are in it yourself. Pros: Easy and time saving. Cons: Hot water sets in stains initially. I found this to actually be my least favorite way. It did set a stain and I ended ended up using a stain remover (when I wanted to avoid all chemicals while keeping the product in the best possible condition for continued use). I ran it through the wash and this is the only pad I have on which remains a slight stain.

Next, I tried simple rinsing in the sink under cold water. This worked well and I hung the pad to dry (as recommended regardless of your method of cleaning). Unfortunately, upon inspection, it did not have the completely fresh scent I desired when dry. My goal is also for the product to remain as sanitary as possible, and to not encourage any type of unexpected, undesirable odors the next time I go to use them. Pros: Quick in a pinch. Cons: Not as fresh as my standards require.

The final method I tried was to simply rinse, soak in vinegar water to freshen, kill bacteria, and break down any stains, and run them through the wash with the rest of my laundry. This was my favorite way of cleaning the pads. I hung them on a sock hanger to dry and when I used them again I felt that they appeared clean, smelled fresh, and I was confident that there was no residual odor or bacteria. Pros: Easy, environmentally safe,  and met my standard for freshness and cleanliness. Cons: None for me.

In addition, I thought I would share my experience of use while at work. I did feel slightly self conscious making my way back and forth, and past co-workers to the ladies room  with my cute little wet/dry bags. And I was a tad anxious as I stepped out of the stall to discretely rinse out the product. But I remembered my goals of simplicity, and environmental friendliness, and felt happy and accomplished. I believe a greater comfort will come with time and use.

Overall, I am very pleased with the switch and am glad I have decided to make the change!

Simplicity Simplified

I am a career blogger by no means. Clearly there have been some gaps between my posts, and even when I am consistent, I have one or two posts a month at best (usually one!)   Regrettably, I have not written a blog since October. It is now nearing the back half of February and I am finding myself inspired once again. Well, maybe inspired is too strong of a word. I have been inspired many times over the months. Let’s call a spade a spade… I am just now making the time to sit down and actually do the writing. To act on that inspiration bubbling up within me.

I want nothing more than to live a img_6330
simplified life. It is hard to blog about a goal that you have not yet attained. So, I need to reset. Write about the journey. In our culture life is everything but simple. You must work hard at simplifying. Which seems a tremendous contradiction in terms! I don’t want it to be hard! Simplifying should be easy, right?? But it’s not. I have decided that it is going to take some research on my part to devise what it is I really want. I can picture it in my mind, but it seems so hard getting there. And I feel so alone in my quest. This world is built on material things and most people buy into it without even realizing it.

What I do need to do is decide what is important to me, personally, and spell it out. There are many ways to simplify – from leaving less of an environmental footprint and consuming less, to living a minimalist lifestyle, to a major declutter, to deciding to go off the grid, or just step back from some of the self-imposed obligations on your own calendar.

So, I am going to read other (more successful folks’) blogs on the subject, delve into some books, pray about it, journal it, and determine what simplicity looks like in my life – and then jump back in! I can’t make the world what it is not. But I can make my part of the world the simple lifestyle that I choose to lead for myself.

So, here goes everything!

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God is within her, she will not fall!

– Psalm 46:5