What environmental lifestyle shifts are you planning for 2011? If you still haven't been able to make up your mind, take a minute to read about the folks below. In the last couple of weeks in December 2010, they all answered the question, "What's Been Your Biggest, Coolest, Eco-Friendliest Change This Year?" Some people switched to greener cleaning products. Others started their own organic gardens. A few launched their own companies. One person is even building a house from scratch. Hope they give you some great ideas for 2011!
Reader Bonnie installed a programmable thermostat. It cost her $35, but she expects to easily recoup the cost on her heating and cooling bills. StudioJMM of http://profile.typepad.com/studiojmm put solar panels on her roof. Ann started a "no idling" campaign to get buses to turn off their engines when they're waiting to pick up kids at school. Saves energy AND keeps the air cleaner.
Hana, aka the Green Granma http://thegreengrandma.blogspot.com/ discovered "the unending merits of vinegar" for greener cleaning. Celine spent a few dollars on cleaning rags she purchased at Goodwill. Lynne at http://greenertoday.blog.ca/ is now making her own green cleaners, plus buying local and kicking the throwaway water bottle habit.
In the Kitchen
Kerri (of www.realhartford.org) installed a worm composter. She spent $125 for the worm bin, and got the worms for free from a friend. She's already harvested three bins full of compost, which she's used to enrich her garden soil. Next steps? Making better use of bulk food. Barathi has given up bottled water and other beverages completely, and now, not only uses a reusable bottle, but gives them to friends to encourage them to do the same. Jeanne, a student in Quebec, France, became a vegetarian, a move she feels is saving her a lot of money (tofu is cheaper than meat!).
Cher over at http://creativeandtasty.blogspot.com/became a vegetarian, too. So did Anna at http://www.green-talk.com/. Jen of http://www.jenandjoeygogreen.blogspot.com/ planted a big organic vegetable garden. She thinks it cost less than $100, but is saving much more in food she doesn't need to buy. Lisa of http://condo-blues.blogspot.com/ joined a CSA (community supported agriculture, which meanss you buy a farm's harvest for a season). Denise got a hand-me-down solar oven, and has been making her own granola. Kathy began composting kitchen scraps to reduce the amount of garbage she threw away, and found she didn't need to buy fertilizer for the garden! Sherry is getting her family to eat more locally grown food and less meat; they're wiping their hands and mouths on the new cloth napkins she's bought.
Bonnie also completely redecorated her apartment for $500 by buying everything second-hand on Craig's list. On a larger scale, Diane left her home in Costa Rica to become an "eco beaver" in Oregon, where she and her husband are building their own abode. You can read about the many changes they've made – and plan to make – at http://connect.oregonlive.com/user/EcoBeavers/index.html. One smart move: they're building three tall and narrow stories instead of something more sprawling to protect as much of their forested property as possible.
Personal Care Products
Jeanne, a student in Quebec, France, replaced feminine hygiene products with a reusable diva cup. Shannon of http://www.workingmomgoesgreen.com/ switched to more natural personal care products for herself and her family. She's making her own deodorant, and using baking soda for shampoo, and cider for conditioner, saving at least $50/year.
Beate of http://www.levananaturals.com/ started sharing a car. Hana, aka the Green Granma (see above) traded in her Buick for a Honda Insight Hybrid.
Started Their Own Companies and Blogs!
Talk about ambitious! Linda at www.ekobear.ca started this toy company to make sure her kids (and yours) had safe toys to play with. This, on top of greening all her family's cleaning products, switching to reusable bags, using a clothes drying rack, and installing a motion sensor light in the bathroom, which is better than constantly reminding her 4-year-old son to turn off the light. Beate (see above) also opened her own online store. Take a look at http://www.levananaturals.com/.
Meanwhile, Renee set up a blog - http://nevertoolatetogreen.blogspot.com - to chronicle the many small but meaningful changes she's making to green her life. What's she done so far? She's stopped using nasty cleaning chemicals, has started to grow her own food or buy local, and started using a clothesline, actions, which she says saved her hundreds of dollars. Lori launched http://groovygreenlivin.com/. And still more new blogs: Christina started writing
http://www.greenerparents.com/, where you can find her stories about switching out paper Kleenex for reusable cloth hankies and tips on giving a green birthday party for your child.
Congratulations to everyone who took a new green step, or who walked farther along the environmental path they've begun. You make a difference!