Welcome to week 5 of my 52 ways to go green!
An unplanned flooding of my dishwasher (at 2 am...grrrr) has me going without the convenience of one for now. I have a family of 5 and the glasses alone are enough to make dish washing a part-time job!
My first house didn’t have a dishwasher (no kids yet, just me and Dave) and people would ask “don’t you have a dishwasher?” Dave would reply, “yeah, you’re looking at her!” Ha, Ha, Ha...the joke’s not so funny now.
The old me, the me before my 52 week journey, would have dug out the paper plates, plastic cups and utensils without giving it a second thought. But the green guilt crept in and I decided we could spare the landfill my family’s laziness and step up to the sink.
But how quickly should I get a repair man out here? Am I saving money, water and energy, (definitely NOT time) washing by hand? Since I didn’t know the answer, I did a little research and here is what I found:
“Many modern dishwashers use only half as much water as you would washing by hand, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. That can add up to thousands of gallons over the appliance lifespan -- about 11 years for most dishwashers. And the automatic part also saves you about four hours a week of boring and repetitive cleanup.
After discovering that it’s less wasteful to run my dishwasher (and apparently my Bosch was a good choice) than hand wash, I have promptly scheduled an appointment to get it fixed.
So what exactly did I do that was green this week?
Welcome to week 4, switching to an environmentally friendly toothbrush.
Have you ever thought about your toothbrush after you’re done with it? Me neither. Out with the old and in with the new - hello pink and healthy gums! But now that I’m growing a green conscience, I’m always on the lookout for green improvements in my life.
I’m kind of excited about this particular eco-switch, you see, the handle is made from 100% recycled material, #5 plastic to be precise (think yogurt cups), a kind of plastic that many towns and cities won’t recycle. Thanks to the company Preserve, you can have your yogurt and brush your teeth with it, too. This works splendidly for my family who happens to eat a lot of yogurt and brush their teeth.
Not only can you choose a different color and bristle preference for each member of your family, but you can actually get a toothbrush subscription and never have to remember to change out your toothbrush every 3 months!
Here’s how it works:
This week on my 52 Ways, I am going to start making my own dry laundry detergent. Ever since the inception of BGH, It’s something I’ve always wanted to try.
It just seems like it would feel good to use it, like eating homemade bread instead of store bought; you just know everything that goes into it and it feels right. The cost is another part I like about it. Is it just me or is laundry detergent a rip off? The "reliable" brands are pricey and the cheap ones make half of my family break out into hives.
Did you know?
In the 1960s, detergent manufacturers waged an advertising battle over who had the longest lasting suds, and detergent compounds quickly appeared in the waterways. Suds began to appear in streams, rivers, lakes, and at the foot of Niagara Falls, where piles of discolored detergent foam rose eight feet high. As with dishwashing liquid, the suds are totally cosmetic and add no cleaning value, but are created by an additive surfactant.
Detergents also contain phosphate additives.
"Barry Commoner ... noted that between 1940 and 1970 the amount of phosphates in city wastewater increased from 20,000 to 150,000 tons per year." With the increase in phosphates, algal blooms grew splendidly on the excess phosphorus and consumed most of the oxygen in the waters, killing fish and plants."
These are compelling reasons to adopt the cheaper, homemade version. The only thing holding me back has been finding the ingredients. I’m not a big online shopper, but for those who are, this would be very convenient. I’m in the “don’t plan ahead” camp, who runs out to the store in the middle of a load to buy more. I suppose I will have to plan a little bit better than that when I switch to home-made detergent, but supposedly it makes a ton! I’ll let you know.
WE NOW PAUSE FOR A BRIEF INTERMISSION WHILE KAREN GOES TO BUY HER DETERGENT INGREDIENTS...
I’m back from my errand and I’m happy to share that I found everything I needed at my local grocery store. The Borax and Washing soda were located in the laundry isle. I could not find soap flakes, so I made my own by grating 4 bars of Ivory Soap in my food processor. My total cost - $10.70.
I mixed all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and transferred it to an old empty Arm and Hammer detergent box I saved just for this occasion. Immediately the smell reminds me of a Laundromat, fresh and clean... I liked it.
Next step, turn my family into human guinea pigs and throw in some laundry. I started with towels but threw in a few undergarments. If anyone was going to have an allergic reaction, I’d know right away!
Here is what I learned:
What better time to plant a vegetable garden than on Mother’s Day weekend. Not only is it the recommended date to put plants in the ground, but it comes with built-in labor, generously giving my family the perfect opportunity to show me how special I am to them.
All kidding aside, the garden is good for the whole family in many regards.
This is also the first time that we are starting our plants from seed. Not only is it fun to see the sprouts break through the soil, but it is a huge cost savings as well.
I must say, this green effort feels really good. I can't wait to post the progress of this garden and share it with you. I plan on getting into some garden-inspired recipes this summer as well. Doing green does feel good!
I don't have a scale. I used to – it dated back to my days in the dorm. I loved that scale, it was 10 pounds lighter than the doctors scale (or any other calibrated scale for that matter). Looking back, I wish I had embraced those numbers it shared with me when I was 18, 19, and 20 years old. I hopped on and off of it daily, sometimes more, scooting it to various areas of the bathroom floor in an attempt to get a reading that satisfied me. After all, my day and mood depended on it! Ironically, if it showed me disappointment, I was more likely to have a donut for breakfast. Crazy, I know.
Then the weighing stopped. I just couldn't take it anymore; I had to get off the emotional roller coaster I had been riding for so many years. I just wanted to enjoy my house full of toddlers, and happily nibble away on their dry Cheerios, crackers, mac and cheese... ahh, to be a kid again. It's true that ignorance is bliss... until you can't button your jeans.
So upon the start of this 52 week journey, I have a decision to make: to weigh or not to weigh? That is the question.
The decision (drum roll please) – is not to weigh. My old college scale finally broke just prior to my 52 week journey and I am taking this as a sign from the universe. That being said, I do in fact know my start weight. The shocking number was revealed to me at my doctor’s appointment last month. In fact, it is this number, the highest I’ve ever seen without being pregnant, that is motivating me to FINALLY take off this weight once and for all.
I am choosing to focus my success on the measurement of my midsection. Here’s why and I quote:
“Among women of normal weight, those with a waist larger than 34.6 inches were three times as likely to die of heart disease, compared to women with smaller waists.
I know my start weight, my waist measurement, and which pair of shorts I would like to someday button. I don’t care if it takes me a year or more to reach my goal because it’s not about the destination this time, it’s about the journey. I need to adopt permanent, healthy habits that I can live with everyday for the rest of my life; and this is where my daily focus will lie - not on a number from the bathroom scale.
Changing my light bulbs to CFLs (Green)
I’m certain that most of you can relate to this: a light bulb burns out, you look in your pantry for a replacement. If you haven’t adopted the Green Routine to Rethink Your Energy, then reading it may motivate you to finally make the switch to CFL bulbs or what I like to call “the curly bulbs”.
Replacing bulbs with energy efficient curly bulbs always makes the top 10 list of ways to go green, but for some reason I haven’t done it yet. Well, I take that back, I put one in the toilet room (just a toilet you see) in our master bath and it was really weird. You turn it on and it s l o w l y f a d e s o n a n d l I g h t s t h e r o o m and finally puts off this really funky light that my husband refers to as "prison cell lighting" (not sure how he knows that....soooo). They are expensive and weird and I just like to buy what I know, until now.
My little 52 Ways...blog has forced me to shop for the curly lights, and here is what I discovered:
CHOICES! It was like a trip to the county fair only instead of a line of people I saw a wall of curly bulbs: fat, skinny, short, tall, single and in groups, coming in a variety of colors. It also seemed to me the prices have come down since the purchase of my prison light. Good, because I’m cheap!
Replacing my light bulbs feels really good. I am actually anticipating the rest of the incandescent bulbs to blow so I can replace them all. I think we will save a lot of money on our electric bill at the same time making frequent light bulb changes a thing of the past. Now that wasn’t so hard! - Do Green|Feel Good, I did!
Adopting a Low-Carb Lifestyle (Lean)
When it comes to the weight loss end of things, I want to be your friend. And I’ll tell you exactly what kind of friend I want to be: your annoying friend, who sets out to lose weight, actually does it, and keeps it off. Have you ever met anyone more annoying than that? Oh sure, I’ll gratefully accept your insincere congratulations knowing full well that you secretly despise me and my accomplishment, perpetual good mood, and new wardrobe. But ultimately we’ll remain friends (blog friends) out of your morbid curiosity as to when and if I fail.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. I need to pick a plan, a plan that I can live with until I’m 100 years old - and I have. I’m going low-carb!
As someone who has tried every diet known to womankind: Atkins, Zone, South Beach, counting points, controlling portions, counting fat grams, you name it, I pretty much gave up “dieting” all together because it just frustrated me and only made me fatter. But this lack of a plan didn’t keep my waistline from growing either.
I was re-inspired to try low carb when I discovered a really great cook book at a second-hand store by Dana Carpender called 500 Low Carb Recipes. I love to cook (and eat) and these recipes looked delicious! Upon reading the intro to this book, I discovered she had written another book called How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Lbs. That really grabbed my attention and got me thinking that perhaps I could prevent myself from looking like an apple on a stick (well, two sticks because those would be my legs) as I age if I cut back on sugar, white flour and junk in general.
As an apple shaped person, low carb makes sense because it keeps my blood sugar from spiking, makes me feel full all day without craving junk, and lets me eat things I like. It also does a great job cutting out most processed food. I think people who carry their weight around the middle are more “carb-sensitive” than the pear shaped folks and studies show that we are at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease.