With all of this talk lately on what we can do to get "greener", it got me thinking about what I do to makes this world a little easier to live in.
We can't afford to pay the trash company to recycle our recycleables, so we do a few things ourselves. It's not as much as if we could afford to recycle, but it's better than nothing.
- We recycle all of our paper at the local recycling dropoff (free) located at any one of the five Wal-Marts in our "town". (Yes, I know, any "town" with five Wal-Marts isn't actually a town, but I just can't bring myself to call it a city - I did grow up in The Big Apple, after all!)
- We get our milk delivered every week. I know this doesn't sound like doing something for the environment, but the milk company takes back the empty milk containers and reuses them for more milk. Plus, it's delicious!
- We turn off lights in any room we're not in - and we're normally all in the same room. Driving down our street at night, you would think no one actually lives in our house, it's pitch black.
- We use fluorescent light bulbs. Yes, I know they don't last as long if they are used upside down, but it's still better than a regular bulb, right?
- We don't flush the toilet after every single pee - if it's yellow, let it mellow...you get the idea.
- We have our water heater turned way down, and it still produces enough hot water for our family.
- We wash all of our clothes in cold water.
Even though we put in a semi-decent effort now, you should have seen me the summers from 1986 through 1993.
I went to camp. A camp like no other. I don't think you would find a place anywhere close to being similar now, unless you were on some sort of commune. Unfortunately, it's closed now so you can't experience it for yourselves. Looking back, it was actually kind of gross. I'm not sure how many people were there, but I think it ranged somewhere between 60 and 100, depending on the year.
The camp used a well system, and to make sure there was enough water for food preparation, drinking, the animals, and cleaning up after meals, all of the people making up the camps population were limited to 1 shower a week. That's right folks, just 1 shower a week.
Let me clarify.
I guess we were really limited to 1 hot shower a week. The rest of the time we were entitled to take a colder than the arctic shower in the waterfall anytime we wanted (using bio-degradable soap) if it was running - i.e., it hadn't been stopped by beavers upstream. Yep, parents knew about this little deal. And yep, they kept sending their children back year after year. Now, I get a little grossed out if my kids go three days without a bath - and they hardly do anything to get dirty!
Ok, so you're thinking "what could these children be doing to really warrant more shower time - 1 a week sounds reasonable. Besides they're probably swimming a ton anyway." For some, that would be correct. However, for the select few die-hard horse lovers it was a different story. I was one of those horse lovers. I was in the barn every day, either riding or mucking stalls or both. Yes, I was swimming almost everyday too (my nickname was "the fish"), but do you really think that was enough to get the grime of the barn off? Hardly. Let's not forget about the fact that I was sleeping outside for a good chunk of the time that I was there too. One summer, I got home and took a nice long shower and shaved my legs. Prior to this, I had thought I was really tan. However, it turned out that I was just really dirty. After shaving my legs they were white as ghosts - apparently, along with the hair I had shaved off the dirt too.
The water conservation was not the only environmentally friendly "activity". We also composted whatever leftover food items we could, and what we couldn't was given to the pigs to eat. We had a cow on site to give us fresh milk. We grew some of our own veggies. We even had a few outhouses (again, saving water).
So yes, this was the greenest time of my life so far. Unfortunately, it wasn't just the environment we were making greener, it was also the people we dared to tell about the goings on in this little community we called home for 8 weeks every year.
I guess you're a little greener now too. You can thank me later.