Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Time is Running Out!


Time is running out! One thing I’ve been trying to do in preparation for our new lifestyle is to use household cleaners that are eco-friendly. Things like Windex, SoftScrub and other cleansers are being traded for vinegar & water, baking soda & borax. This hasn’t been easy because like so many others, I’ve become accustomed to going down the cleaning products aisle at the store & loading up with chemicals! The thing I’ve noticed the most is that my nose is happier… it’s not stuffed up or running when I clean! I haven’t been able to completely wean myself off of my favorite bath soap and shampoo… although I’ve tried a shampoo (from a health food store) that I REALLY liked… so I will probably make that switch when I’m done with what I’m using now.

Paper and Plastic! After much nagging & reminding from my husband I have made the switch from paper towels to newspaper to wash windows & mirrors… but I should probably get rid of paper towels & paper napkins too. They are a waste… not to mention the trees that are killed to make them. (Sorry… I won’t budge on toilet paper or Kleenex!) I’m sure using a cloth washcloth in the kitchen and cloth napkins at the table would be just as effective… although I’d have to wash them instead of just throwing them away. Like everything else... it’s a compromise!

I’ve not been good about recycling newspapers. I hate that the local newspaper overcharges (I believe) for the paper you buy… then charges you again to come pick them up for recycling. Grrr. We have used newspapers previously for packing boxes when shipping eBay items, wrapping gifts in and kindling in our outdoor fire pit… but once we make the move we’ll no longer get a local paper so that problem will solve itself. All the decorating magazines I’ve been holding onto will probably end up at a women’s shelter or doctor’s office.

I always keep the plastic shopping bags (paper bags aren’t even offered where we shop)…and use them in smaller wastebaskets in the house. The excess often gets used for a “trash sack” in the car or when I have a garage sale. Since garage sale “season” is over and my huge bag o’ bags was nearly overflowing I put that bag in the car to take back to the recycling box at the grocery store! I think it was in the car for 2 weeks before I was "reminded" to drop it off! When we move I can see us using coolers for cold/frozen items and tubs with lids for the rest of our groceries.

Miscellaneous Recycling! I need to start being very diligent about recycling cans and glass. Space is an issue for recycling…I’d have to put large containers outside then remember to take them to the recycling center (4 blocks away! oh my!).

I’m not sure where I’d put a compost pile now (in town) – but it’s a habit I need to form. I’m sure we’ll have some sort of compost pile in Colorado as we won’t have garbage service. I’ve seen very simple compost piles made from recycled wood pallets attached to 4x4 posts. The compost would have to be turned by hand (so to speak). Jerry has mentioned buying a fancy barrel-type composter that looks like a cement mixer… one that you turn with a crank. I’m thinking the simpler (cheaper) the better!

My parents didn’t do any composting out on their farm when I was growing up (or now)… table scraps went to the barn cats and the occasional opossum… and other scraps (peels, egg shells & such) went into the garbage disposal. I have to say – they are very good about recycling cans and dad uses newspaper in the fireplace. For many years my mother reused margarine & Cool Whip containers to freeze produce in and she also has a good stash of glass jars that she freezes chopped peppers or onions in (for easy use). I remember my grandfather took his recycling (cans & stuff) and food scraps out to the windbreak… maybe he thought it was far enough from the house to keep the critters & smell away.

Electricity & Water! We are currently renting… and have only one utility bill a month (electric, water & garbage are bundled) but since we’ve made the decision to live off the grid we have become more conscious of how much electricity & water we use. Often at night I use the computer with the lights off, play the piano in the dark, and watch tv in the dark. We turn off lights when we leave a room, keep the furnace turned down to 68 during winter and the a/c up to 78 in during summer. If it’s nice outside we open the windows & enjoy the fresh (*hack*) air and maybe use a fan. I am able to take a shower in well under 10 minutes (slightly more if I have to shave my legs!) - 6 minutes is my "personal best"; I no longer run the water while brushing my teeth; I don’t use the dishwasher – I run the sink to ½ full and run the water only a bit (not full blast) for rinsing dishes. I should get into the habit of using a dishpan to rinse in (run water & dip the dishes) then re-use the water for watering plants or for cleaning.

Lots of "shoulds" and noting that things are "habits I need to form"... Time is running out... Change is coming!


Powell River Books said...

It sounds like you are really studying and planning for your lifestyle change. When we found our place in Powell River we knew we just had to have it. We've learned a lot along the way from our good friend John. He built our cabin and can do just about anything. He has been very patient about teaching us the things we know and helping us when it's way over our heads. We ended up retiring early because we wanted to move to our cabin as soon as possible. I know you will love yours. - Margy

Marcy said...

Margy, thanks for your interest & comments. It's great to have friends who have talents to share. The planning part is nerve wracking for me... I'm used to only having to worry about what carpet or paint color to pick... not a house from the ground up! I know it will be wonderful when it's done.
Marcy <><