Thursday, March 24, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - using a Clothes line instead of a dryer

Dry your clothes on a clothes line instead of in an electric drier. Electric driers use up to 10% of residential electricity in the United States. The average household can save more than $100 a year by forgoing the electric clothes dryer and using a clothesline. Clothes dried in the fresh air smell better, too! Some say that you can soften your towels and prevent them from drying stiff on the line by adding a ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

I haven't been answering all of the daily change the world Wednesday posts but want to touch on this one.

I can't use an outside line due to allergies but earlier this year I hung up two lines in my laundry room inside.  While most clothes I will put in the dryer, I have a lot of loads where not everything dries the first time through and instead of putting the items through the dryer a 2nd time, I've started to hang them up.  I'm loving it so far!  I really feel like I'm not wasting electricity to dry the clothes and because it's inside I know I don't have to deal with the allergies.  

I did create a post about this already, so instead of basically re-writing the post, I'm just going to link to it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Fit Monday - week of March 14th

Hosted by Journey To Green
Lats week was not a good workout week.  I'm not sure exactly why. I don't know if I was pushing too hard and my body was telling me to back off or if I was just mentally not with it.  

I ran on Wednesday, I did 4.1 miles in 35.3 min.  I didn't run again until Friday.  I didn't really want to run on Friday but knew I had to. I ran 3.5 miles in 30.4 min Friday.   I did an Insanity workout on Saturday, didn't push myself too much because it was a lot of cardio and leg work and I didn't want to be fatigued for Sunday.

Sunday...was a disappointment.  I had planned to do 12 miles in preparation for my first ever half marathon.  12 turned into 4.   I wanted to stop within 10 min of starting my run.  I don't know if it was because of the heat (I think it was around 80 when I was outside...and to think I woke up to snow on Monday).  I don't know if it's because I'm freaking out about my upcoming run. I don't know.  All I know is that I wanted to stop almost right away and pushed myself to finish 4 miles without walking.  I did the 4 miles in 39 min.  

Of course, now I'm freaking out that I can't really do 13.1 miles and what if it's warm on the day of the race, etc.  Lots of mental anxiety right now.  I tell myself that if I can do 12 this coming weekend, then I'll be ok.  I'm really nervous about doing that 12.  eek!

On a brighter note, I decided attending regular yoga classes would probably be a good thing. Hopefully this will help solve a lot of the injuries I keep having (issues with my back, pulled muscles, etc).  I researched it and found that a local sports complex offers a class pass that's $50 for 10 classes.  It was the cheapest I found and the closest location, it's only 1.5 miles from my house.  They have a yoga class at 7:40 pm on Tuesday nights and I plan to try attending that one weekly.  We'll see how well that goes.  My husband asked if they had spinning classes and suggested I take one of those. He thinks I'll like it.  He also said it would be a good way to start building up my biking ability if I plan to do a short triathlon.  The pass will count towards spinning classes and there are two each week in the morning, 5:45 am, that I could take before I actually go to work.   So...I'm going to plan on trying one of those too. I haven't decided if I'll try one this week or wait until after my race. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - Daily challenge 3/18/11

Today's challenge for CTWW at Reduce Footprints is:

Avoid buying products that have lots of packaging. About a third of the waste we generate is from packaging to get items to our homes. Choose loose products and buy refillable containers when possible (food co-ops and health food stores usually offer these options.)

I really like this challenge. Sometimes I have to struggle with this because, I'm a pretty frugal person.  I love a deal.  Sometimes, a lot of times, the items with less packaging or recyclable packaging are more expensive.  So I struggle with the issue of being frugal and saving a buck or being eco-smart.  I'm definitely moved towards being more eco-smart, which makes me happy. I just watch the spending in other areas in order to compensate.

I've been buying my own nuts to make trail mix for several months now.  I take my own re-usable mesh bags, they have a tight weave, to the store and I use these to get nuts and other items out of the bins.  This allows me to buy just the amount I want and also saves on packaging.  My husband always points out the bag of almonds next to the bins and tells me to just grab that, but I refuse. I tell him I don't want the packaging. I also refuse to buy the nuts that have been put in plastic containers, from the bins, by the store for people to easily grab.

I've started to shop regularly at Whole Foods and they have sugar and flour in bins. I recently learned, thanks to a CTWW post, that you can bring in your own containers and have customer service weigh them or do something so that you can fill up the item and you aren't charged for the weight of your own container.  I had planned to start getting sugar and flour this way but had assumed I needed to use a nasty plastic bag, I'm happy I don't have to.

I also always buy my lettuce and fresh fruit/veggies loose. I put them in my own mesh or hemp bags. This way I don't have any waste.  If I have to buy lettuce in a container, I make sure to find the brand that used recycled plastic that can then be recycled.  This is pretty rare though.  I've only done this once in the last 6 months and that was because I couldn't get to Whole Foods for lettuce but was by a Trader Joes..and Trader Joes didn't have loose lettuce.  I didn't want to go to a different grocery store because I wanted organic.

Also at Whole Foods (can you see I love this store?) last month Husband and I went to get some frozen veggies out of the freezer section and they had several different brands. Not having used any we just randomly selected one that was low in cost.  As we got the bag out of the freezer I happened to notice a brand under it and the bags looked different. So I picked it up and the bags were biodegradable.  The item was the same size and cost.  We put back the other bag and now buy the brand with the biodegradable bag.  I know this is still a waste, but at least it's a better option.

Once again..back to Whole Foods. I did notice that near the bin area they have a machine to make your own almond butter and peanut butter.  I've glanced at it, I've been intimidated by it.   However, I think the next time I need peanut butter, instead of buying an organic variety, I'm going to take my own jar or Tupperware with me, get it weighed (or whatever) and then have somebody show me how to use the machine. Not only will it be fresh, I'll save on packaging.

Here's one that I bet a lot of people don't think about.  I bake from scratch.  I don't buy pre-made bakery items. I don't buy box or bag mixes.  I believe that not only does the item taste better but in a lot of cases it's cheaper.  Plus, you have the extra benefit of not having a lot of waste. No plastic containers.  No boxes with a plastic bag on the inside.    Of course, you can also factor in cooking from scratch. We do a lot of that too. Although I use the term "we" loosely, I don't like to cook so Husband does that. I do love to bake though.  

Another thing, I use a battery powered toothbrush where I only change the head of the toothbrush.  While this is still a waste, since it can't be recycled, it's much smaller than a normal sized toothbrush.  While we can't get away from packaging and plastic waste with this type of item yet, making a change like this so the item we throw away is smaller is worth it, in my opinion.  Plus, the packaging usually comes with 2 replacement heads, so I don't have as much waste there either.

Also, since I'm going towards making more of my own cleaning supplies, this means I have less waste in plastic bottles too.   For stainless steel cleaner and granite cleaner..I have one bottle that gets recycled and that's dish soap..and the bottle lasts for a very long time (I only use 2 tbsp at a time).

Here's a question for you all..see what your opinion is.  For dishwasher detergent.  Is it better to get 1 big bottle of a liquid detergent or a box of individual tabs wrapped in plastic?  I'm thinking the big bottle of liquid because you can at least recycled that bottle.  Yet..that's such a big bottle!  The individual tabs come wrapped in their own plastic, but at least it's small. But is it better to be able to recycle a big container than throw little bits of plastic in the landfill?  I'm thinking yes.  Yet I struggle with this.  Probably what holds me back is that I can get boxes of the tabs incredible cheap several times a year when they go on sale and I can match coupons.  This doesn't happen with the big containers.  So I'm guessing the frugal part of me is the one that is having the dilemma.  Of course, that won't be much of a dilemma once I make the permanent switch to an eco-friendly dishwasher detergent since the sales aren't nearly as good. haha

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - on a Thursday and weeks late!

Sorry I haven't posted on my blog in awhile.  Things have been a bit crazy.  I've been busy at work and therefore not a lot of downtime.  I've also been suffering from major fatigue for months now and it's been particularly bad. I was in bed by 8pm every freaking night last week, which means by the time I finish dinner and clean up, I don't have any energy to do anything else and so my blogging suffered (as did my reading..and we all know how I love to read).     So I'm trying to get caught up and decided to briefly mention some of the Change the World Wednesday posts that I've missed.

CTWW - March 2nd
The challenge was to use the garbage disposal less. This would help conserve water, mostly, and a bit of electricity. It would also force you to think about the food you put down the garbage disposal. Could it be saved? composted? etc.

I don't use the disposal too much so this wasn't too big a deal for me. I tend to put any food in the trash instead.   I already plan to start a compost bin, this just made me think more about it and tell myself that I really need to get off my butt and do it.

Reading the results of this challenge on week 9's post, I saw one tip that I love and have already starting practicing at my house.  The person, Nicole, suggested that when you do have to let water run (such as in the kitchen sink waiting for warm water to do dishes) instead of letting the water just go down the drain, keep a couple of milk jugs or similar containers and fill those with the water.  This water can then be used around the house for water plants, fill pet water bowls, etc.   I have a couple of sensitive teeth and rinsing with cold water is incredibly painful so I have to let the water run till it gets warm. I hate doing this, but it's just so wasteful but at the same time if I don't, I'm in a lot of pain.   Luckily within a couple days of reading that I had a gallon milk jug ready to be used. I just love this. I fill it up with water and then use it to give Myla water and water the plants.  I feel so much better about it.  Husband is almost finished with another gallon of milk and I'll be saving that one for this purpose too.

Change the World Wednesday - daily challenges
For the rest of the time until Wednesday there will be daily challenges. I was planning to play along each day, but heck, I was having trouble keeping up with the weekly challenges. I hope to start doing them daily though.

Here's a break down of some:
The 2nd one was to remove a light bulb for the remainder of the challenge - until Easter.  Not only will this save a bit of money but also save CO2 emissions. I'm one step ahead of the group on this one!  I had replaced the outlets and switches in my library from beige to white. Suddenly, the light switch didn't work anymore. I took everything apart several times and couldn't figure it out. I talked to somebody and they suggested a fix. I finally got around to doing that fix in January.  Guess what? The light switch works great but now the light switch to turn on the light at the bottom of our basement stairs doesn't work. Lol!  I've been too lazy to try and fix this (I think I know how) and so we've been living without it already.  I would turn it on a couple times a day, whenever I would put the dog in her kennel and get her out later.  Now I deal without it, since it's a walk out basement there is usually enough light coming in through the curtains that I can still see what I'm doing.

The March 11th challenge:
Address your "standby" habits. Unplug mobile phone chargers and any unused appliances. 8% of electricity consumed at home is from "vampire" appliances that we aren't even using

I already do this!  We only have 3 kitchen appliances this would work towards..a toaster, toaster oven, and can opener. I keep the toaster in a cabinet since it's rarely used and the other two we unplug as soon as we finish with them.   In the office I have the paper shredder, desktop pc, printer, router, and modem all on the same surge protector and keep it unplugged when not in use.  I keep the charger for the laptop unplugged unless I'm actually charging it.  I don't keep phone charges plugged in either.  

The March 16th challenge:
Save energy in the kitchen. Cook food in a microwave, which uses 50-70% less energy than a conventional oven. When you need to cook in a pan on the stove, use a lid to preserve heat, which will also cook your food faster. Cook double portions and freeze what you don't eat.

I can't say that we use our microwave much, other than re-heating things, but I recently bought a toaster oven and that's saved us from using the actual wall oven almost every night.  We've gone from using the wall oven 4 days a week (at least) to either 0 or once.  Not too bad!

We also cook enough for leftovers for my lunches.  Not exactly double portions frozen for future meals, but it keeps me from buying frozen meals etc.

We also make chili, spaghetti, homemade rolls, and soups from scratch.  Then we freeze all of it in dinner size portions. 

And that's it!  It's a long post and I hope you stuck with me for all of it.  I'm going to try and keep up from now on, but might end up having to do one long post to cover several again.   

I have a lot of posts started that I need to finish and schedule to show up.  Please bear with me as I deal with my fatigue, some other minor health issues,  and my half marathon training.  All those things are pretty much taking up a lot of my time.  Oh..and I got my bookshelves so I've spending most of my weekends working on staining those so they can be installed and then used. I can't wait!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Practically Green - an update

I took some time and played around on the Practically Green site trying to see just how green I truly am.  I have to admit, it was a lot of fun.

I clicked on each of the 4 actions and went through each suggestion under them and either marked it as done, added it to my plan, or marked it as not applicable.

Here's how my numbers were after taking the survey:
water - 30
energy - 79
health - 430
stuff - 460

Here's how my numbers were after updating each suggestion:
water - 55
energy - 1910
health - 1215
stuff - 800

Other than my water, which is rather embarrassing, everything else really jumped up and I'm very happy about it.  I went from being fairly green to being wicked green. I like the sound of that.

I have a huge list of things on the planned list. Several I'm already planning to do this Spring, such as start composting, plant veggies, etc.  Others are things that I'm going to be more aware of when I'm shopping, such as buying organic cotton towels and sheets when next needed.  I also have a long list of stuff on the health side I already planned to make changes with, but have to use up when I've already bought first.  Such as using healthier cleaning supplies and beauty supplies.

One of the other fun things about Practically green is that you can compare yourself to your friends, if they are on the site..and yes I facebooked bout this and hope others join, and also others in your area.  I'm proud to announce I'm the most green in my area. Although I suppose I have to admit I'm the only one in my are on the website. lol!   You can also see over-all leaders and compare how you are doing. I'm way behind the leaders but that's ok. That just means I have a lot of things I can improve on.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Get Fit Monday - week of 2/28 - 3/6

Get Fit Monday is hosted by Journey to Green

Last week was back to normal for me. I was off of my racing high and back into freak mode. I've officially started training for my first ever half marathon. Just call me crazy.

I didn't do anything Monday or Tuesday, still recovering from the run the previous Saturday.

I finally got out and ran on Wednesday and then again on Friday. Light runs, only 4 miles each.  I was working on transitioning to a minimalist shoe and that's causing my calves to be sore. I have since decided to wait until after the half though since there is no way I would be ready to run 13.1 miles in the minimalist shoe by April 9th.

Thursday I did the Insanity upper body workout.  Definitely disappointed in it. I like the p90x upper body workouts a lot better so I'll start using those again. I felt like I didn't work very much. Due to the moves we were doing in Insanity, he combined a couple different moves to do together, so I had to use a lower weight for all of it.  If the moves had been separated, I could have used my normal, higher weight, for one move and then gone to the lower weight for the move that I needed it for.  

On Saturday I worked out with Husband and he selected the Insanity Max Interval Plyo workout. It was a killer! I wasn't happy with his choice though, I had to do a long run Sunday and didn't need to do that kind of leg workout the day before. I told him that from now on, until after the half at least, no more plyo. 

Sunday I attempted 10 miles..and did it!  Woohoo! I am right on schedule with training for the half.  I ran at a different local park than my normal due to the rain we had Friday, I knew my local park would be too muddy. I ran at Queeny park and still got in a bunch of tough hills.  I did 10 miles in  1hr 33 min, a pace of 9:18. I'm very excited about that. My goal for the half is to do it with (or under) a 9:30min/mile pace. The route is mostly if I keep working on hills and keep my pace where it was on Sunday..I think I'll be fine. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Electronic Bills - what is your carbon footprint?

If you are like me, you have heard it and seen it.  I'm talking about paying bills electronically and receiving bills electronically, instead of paper bills.

My guess is most of you have already switched to paying bills electronically. I did a long time ago.  It's cheaper all around.  Right now my bank isn't able to send a payment electronically to all the companies who get our money, but they can with most of them.

As far as going paperless for statements. That's been a bit harder on me.  Most things I've done this with, but credit cards I haven't been able to yet. I tried to.  Then I forgot to pay it one month.  We have a credit card that doesn't do ebill and that's the one I forgot to pay.  I told myself I would remember the next month. Nope.  I switched back to paper bills.

I've also been receiving some statements for utilities that I either 1) have the bank automatically make a payment every month since it's always the same or 2) use ebill to get my balance via my bank.  I don't know why I haven't bothered to cancel those yet, probably because I didn't think about it.

I'm going to make an effort though!  It's just a waste.

I found this handy calculator at PayItGreen.  It calculates the resources used by receiving paper bills.  You input the number of paper bills and statements you receive each month and the number of paper payments you mail each month.  The handy calculator tells you the carbon footprint for that.

I entered a total of 6 items.  I was astonished to find that with only 6 items each month, that generates to a waste of 2 lb's of paper, 35 pounds of greenhouse gases, and 19 gallons of water.  Yikes!

You can bet I'm going to see what I can do about getting that number down as close to zero as I can. As of right now the only one I can say I'll have to continue to get is the credit card statement, I don't want to be hit with a late fine of $25 because I forgot to pay it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Coupon Savings and Spending - February 2011

I did so much better keeping within my spending budget for February compared to January. In fact, so good that I'm on track for the year now.

Just a recap...what is included in the budget spending that I'm keeping track of is dog food/treats, all groceries, makeup/nail polish, and health/beauty items (excluding prescriptions).  My goal is to be under $300.

For February I only spent $236.03!  Woohoo!  I'm so excited about that!  It would have been higher by about $30 except that when I stopped at Target to get dogfood over the weekend, they were completely out.  Either way, it would have still been in my budget.  Almost all of that spending was on food and keep in mind that most of the grocery shopping is being done at Whole Foods or if at regular's still mostly on organic items.

The reason I'm so excited my spending in February was so low is that I did so bad in January!  I spent $361.53 on budget items in January.  However, if I average the two months I have an average of $295.35, which means I'm right on target for the year.

I saved a total of $169.21 by using coupons, although only $47.05 of the coupon savings was on budget items.

I saved a total of $55.02 in advertised sales, when known.

This gives me a total amount saved of $236.03 for the month.  Not too bad!

I am keeping track of spending on clothes and shoes (including running/sports items), just for fun.  I bought a new pair of running shoes this past month and a couple of running items.  I spent $110.47.  Still not bad when you factor in the cost of running shoes as being close to or over $100.  I should be set for running shoes for most of the year too...unless I waiver and decide to go with a minimalist pair of trail shoes..which is possible.