But since I live in the real world, and remodeling my kitchen into an eco-friendly green zone isn’t really an option for me (or for you, I suspect) what can we do to make better choices for our homes, cars, meals, and lives? I’m going to share some pointers I’ve been gathering that seem like real options for those of us who would like to do more, but don’t have 72 million dollars of expendable income.
Buy Local. Think about it. Gas is expensive. If you’re able to buy meat, vegetables, and fruit from within a 100-200 mile radius of your home, you’d be doing so many good things for yourself and your environment: lower cost to transport goods, fewer emissions off the transporting of goods, less packaging and processing of food, support of your local economy, and boosted allergy blockers. But let’s talk about the really important factor: It tastes better! You’re eating produce that was recently picked, so it’s closer to ripeness than its transported cousin, which is picked under-ripe and usually given some assistance to become shelf ready. You’ll also have the benefit of more nutritional value per serving. Fruits and veggies lose their vitamins and minerals as they age. The sooner you eat them off the plant, the better. And sure, a lot of you will say, “But Sara! I can’t get local veggies where I live.” You can! I swear. Here are a few links to help you out. You can buy local, even in NYC.
Heating and Cooling Changes: Simple ones, I promise. It’s getting warmer in my part of the world and for most of us that means AC. Not so fast, cowboys and girls. Windows and house position can work with your AC to cut down cost and energy use. Open some windows to take advantage of the cooler early morning or evening temperatures. Close shades on sunny windows during the day to give the AC a break. Try using your oven, dishwasher, washer/dryer at night when they aren’t adding to the fight. If you have Central Air, be sure to change your filters regularly to avoid allergens and overheating the system.
In the Kitchen: While I dream of a green kitchen, here are a few things I can do to hold me over. Get rid of the paper towels. Use dishcloths or washable sponges for messes and save a tree. Don’t rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I know your mom does it, mine too. But we can break the cycle (oh, aren’t I funny!) by showing them how clean our dishes turn out by just letting the dishwasher do the dirty work (okay, I swear I’m done with the puns.) While you’re at it, turn off the heated dry cycle and let the dishes air dry. You know you leave them in there overnight anyway. Seriously. You do. Make sure your faucets aren’t leaking. Try using a toaster oven for smaller meals instead of cranking up the stove every time. And did you know that gas cook tops are WAY less energy efficient than their electric counterparts? It’s crazy, but it’s true. Electric stoves are about 80% efficient, while gas stoves are only 55% efficient(BHG, April 08.) Just saying.
Okay, that’s enough for today. A few interesting links for you:
Next time we’ll be talking about Green kids and maybe even Green Cosmetics! We’ll see how adventurous I’m feeling.