Following up on my post on Act Green by Changing Wasteful Habits, I figured I should share some simple changes that you can implement today without spending a dime. I realize that all these steps would come across as common sense and I’m sure you’ve read and heard about them numerous times. But it only takes one more nudge to make up your mind and start making these little lifestyle changes.
Reduce or Eliminate Paper Towel Use: Use your dish cloth instead. I have reduced my reliance on paper towels and only use it to clean mushrooms. No, really that’s all I use them for! Now, don’t go out and get dish cloths. I’m sure you can find old tops, skirts and pants that you can cut up in little rags. I’ve been challenged to eliminate the use of paper towels completely so I’m going to attempt at cleaning mushrooms using a bowl of water and my bare hands. Did you know that it takes 38-50 gallons of water to produce one pound of paper towel, or at least 1.34 gallons of water for 2 sheets of paper towel? A cup of water is definitely a better deal, no? Check out this blog post on Reducing and Eliminating Paper Towel Use by Colleen – a busy mother and high school teacher trying to do her part in reducing her carbon footprint.
Let that Thermostat Be: Layer up (or down) when you’re cold (or hot) instead of reaching for the thermostat. Enjoy the fresh air by keeping your balcony door open. In the night, keep your cozy duvet aside and just use the flat sheet and you won’t need to turn the air-conditioning on and get some fresh air if you don’t mind keeping the window open a tad. Disclaimer: the second option won’t work for light sleepers (such as myself) and for those who live in a noisy neighbourhood.
Say No to the Dryer: If I can be allowed to vent for a bit, I don’t think it’s any condo board’s business to tell me that I can’t put a clothesline out in my balcony. It’s for the well-being of my clothes and for my planet – my home, my clothes, my clothesline!
But in the meantime, dry your clothes on hangers and hang them up on your shower rod, bar stools, basically anything that you can find. I use door knobs if I have to. Although, I don’t think investing in a clothesline or a drying rack is a bad idea. But you can get away without it if you do one load at a time. I love coming to a home that smells of fresh laundry and I’m sure you will too. 🙂
Do you really need all those bulbs? Put just one bulb in lamps and light fixtures; just because they have space for two or more doesn’t mean you have to fill ’em up :P. (Confession: I have a two bulb light fixture in my bathroom. But I don’t think I will be replacing both when they go bust. :))
Use that Dishwasher sparingly: Hand wash your dishes every day instead of running that dishwasher. One, its therapeutic – warm water, lathery scrubby, no one to disturb you – pure peace and serenity! Although, you can use it as a bonding activity with your partner or kids by sharing stories for the day :). Two, you’ll train yourself to use fewer dishes because you’re the one who has to do them at the end of the evening. Three, you’ll conserve water and energy – two birds with one stone. I use my dishwasher just once every few weeks to make sure it continues to work.
P.S. according to various sources, using a dishwasher is more energy and water efficient than washing dishes by hand. But that is assuming you wash dishes the North American way (i.e. filling up the sink and keeping the faucet running the entire time). I use my mother’s way (common in Indian households) and find that it uses less than 2 gallons of water. This probably warrants a dedicated blog post but meanwhile, Permaculture author Paul Wheaton demonstrates how hand washing a standard sized load of dishes can only use around a gallon of water. Check it out by clicking here.
Do you have any other ideas for changing wasteful habits that you’d like to share? Email me or write it in a comment below and I can write another blogpost on ‘5 More Wasteful Habits’ 🙂
Remember, it’s the small steps that make a big difference :).
I lived for years without paper towels, and then somehow they crept back into my life. One way we greatly reduce paper towel use with two little one running around is by using quartered wash clothes for messy hands and faces. Before my oldest was eating solids I cut up many wash clothes into smaller squares and stitched up the frayed edges. After ever meal (and snack) she needed a good wipe down. Now, we use them for my 17 month old. Thanks for the post. Now I will redouble my effort to get paper towels out of the house all together. Oh, and how frustrating that you can’t hang your clothes to dry outside!
Cutting a wash cloth into smaller wash cloths is a great idea – you don’t really need a full size wash cloth to wipe down a little face! Oh! You have no idea how frustrating it is not to be able to dry clothes on my balcony – the rationale given is a superficial one stating that it does not “look good”! Umm … Go figure!