Lately I've really been studying up on "going green" (and I'm not just talking about my new blog colors). As we've been designing and picking out things for our addition, we've been keeping the "green" factor in mind and going green when we can. I never really thought about our house as being "green", but a few of the contractors have said things like "Living in a green house like this one, I assume you'll want to go with a product like x because it's green." I guess the fact that our house is all steel construction makes our house green. :)
I've never really been very concerned about environmental issues in the past, but lately I've been thinking about it quite a lot. One thing that I think started the research was our HIGH electric bill. Our electric bill has always been pretty high, but this summer (between the heat and being super-pregnant) it was sky high! I started looking into ways to reduce our electric bill and started realizing just how much electricity we waste. I did an FPL energy survey on our house and lifestyle and found out lots of interesting things that we're doing that wastes energy and things that we could be doing to save. I've tried to incorporate some of the simple things like only using hot water to wash clothes when absolutely necessary (before I always just washed darks in cold and lights in warm), not rinsing all dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (before I always rinsed dishes so much that they appeared to be clean if you didn't know any better... I still soak some to get the nasty off, but I leave the stuff that I know will wash off itself now), not washing dishes by hand unless I have to (believe it or not, it's actually more energy and water efficient to use a full dishwasher than it is to wash by hand), and turning off lights when not in the room (this is a no-brainer, but I am not always good about it). I've even started buying the energy efficient flourescent bulbs to use in places where it makes sense to use them.
This researching into being more energy efficient led to looking into other enviromental resource issues. Something I've been struggling with (in the "feeling guilty for not doing it" sense) for a long time is recycling. We haven't ever recycled and my excuse has been that it's tough to get the recycling people to come out to pick our things up. Because we don't recycle and our neighbor doesn't either, the recycling truck doesn't come our way. I'm sure that if I just make the effort to contact the city and notify them that we'll have recyclables out, they'll be out to pick them up. I haven't done this yet, but I've taken the first step and picked up our recycling bins and have a plan for how to incorporate recycling into our routine. This should be in place soon. Also, we don't have a garbage disposal so our organic trash all goes into the garbage too so I've started looking into composting the organic matter that I can. I may not actually start composting, but if I do it's a bit down the line but something that I'll keep in mind as a possibility for later.
This past week has been "Green is Universal" week on NBC. Pretty much everything on the network this week features green issues. I think it's been a very creative way to introduce green issues to the masses without forcing it down your throat. It's opened my eyes to a few more ways to "reduce, reuse, recycle", and even though it won't all happen overnight, I plan to make our family more and more green-friendly over time. In addition to starting to recycle, one major thing that I've done is to sign up for a service called 41 pounds. For just $41, this non-profit organization promises to reduce the amount of junk mail that you receive by 80-95% during the next 5 years. In addition to being good for the environment by eliminating "41 pounds" of junk mail from making it's way into your trash during a year, this service is just darn useful! I hate going through my piles of junk mail everytime we bring in the mail, and if I can eliminate that and help the environment at the same time... all the better!
In conclusion, if you have any suggestions for simple things that we can do to make an impact, feel free to pass them along to me! Go Green!