Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day Everyone!!!!

Good Morning My Darlings. Today is Earth Day. As a flower child of the 70's, when Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a day to celebrate the Earth, (1970) and he decided to do it on my birthday, well, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. One big giant party all for me.

Not so much, but I like the idea. When people ask me when my birthday is, I say Earth Day. Only a few people have ever known when that is. Usually I get, "Oh that's in April, isn't it?" Yeah, the BEST day in April.

And you know, I sort of take this as my responsibility to educate people about what they can do to help our planet. I'm warning you now, I am climbing high up on my soap box, and this is an unusually long post.

I watched a NOVA special on PBS the other night called POWER SURGE. All about the things we can do to help our dying (yes, DYING) planet come back from the brink. I've always been an environmentalist, a recycler, reuser, reducer. I drove my parents nuts when they started mandatory recycling in our community. I have more junk furniture in my house than I have room for, old wood in my backyard for my new shed (that I will build someday) and Monster Child has been taught where the stuff goes in the recycle bins in the kitchen. We go to the recycle dump once a month.

Any-hoo, this documentary talked about what we can do on a GLOBAL scale to reduce the use of carbon emissions that we, as people, pollute our planet with. Our environment is slowly succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning and some scientists have an estimate that by 2035, our world will not be what we are used to. Global warming will turn South Dakota into Florida and the ice caps will have completely melted. Can I just say that's only 24 years from now? How old will your children, or grandchildren be?

There is talk (and action) on a large scale, that solar power is the next big thing. Jimmy Carter had the right idea when he put solar panels on the White House. It's a shame Regan took them down. Bill Clinton had the right idea to invest in better gas mileage for our cars. It's a shame Bush didn't care.

But I do care. I have always cared. And you should too. In this tv show, one of the scientists said that EFFICIENCY is the biggest and best thing, that we, as single humans, can do to help our planet. If we, on a global scale, did things to conserve on our use of electricity usage, we could alleviate almost HALF of our 50 ton carbon footprint every year.


Now, I understand some of us like the convenience modern technology has afforded us. Hey, I couldn't live without my computer either. But there are ways, simple things, we can all do to help out. Here are just a few of my suggestions. (And I've been doing these things for YEARS. You might call me old-fashioned, or just plain crazy, but you know what, my daughter is only 6. She'll only be 30 in 2035. I'd hate to think she won't have trees for HER children to play in.)


You know the bags your cereal comes's made out of wax paper. After you recycle the cardboard box, you can use the cereal bags as freezer bags, (or any kind of bags really, they're very sturdy) or for covering your food in your microwave. (Did you know if you use plastic wrap in your microwave it emits a chemical that causes cancer. Wax paper doesn't.)

Plastic 2 liter soda bottles....If you poke holes in the bottom spikes (that the bottle stands on), and cut the top off, fill it with dirt, voila, instant plant container. I don't know how many of these I had on my deck last year. I planted tomatoes, squash, watermelon, daisies, pansies. And you can always see when they need water.

Frozen food containers. I have 187 houseplants that always need repotting. I have enough pots, what I never have is enough bottoms to hold the runaway water. Those little black plastic bowls and platters are fabulous. Also great for cat food, leftovers, and holders of junk drawer flotsom and jetsam.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use the back sides of already used paper. Either cut it up in quarters and use it for notes, or reuse it to print out your manuscript.


On every television(3) we have in the house, which is invariably also plugged into a vcr or dvd, I have a power strip. Everything gets plugged into that strip. When I am done with the tv, I shut the whole strip off. No electricity is being wasted. The same goes for my computer and all that hoo-ha. Power strip. Done with it, I shut the whole thing down. Kitchen counter crap, coffee maker, toaster, mixer, blender, whatever...power strip. I only use it for what, 20 minutes in the morning, why do I need to drain electricity for the rest of the 24 hours in a day. The lamps in the dining room are unplugged until I need them. Any plug I can find, that I don't need on a regular basis gets unplugged..

My heat is set on 66 in the winter. Yes, you heard me. And yes, sometimes it gets a little chilly. But you know what, we wear sweaters. And sometimes even hats. My electric bills are so cheap, I have had people say they couldn't believe how I did it. I also don't use the a/c. We sweat a lot in the summer, but with dark curtains and fans, and a pool (a wading pool for now) we do all right. My electric bill for the last two summers was on average $45-. Yeah. My mother's was almost $175-.

If you have a heat pump (most of us do here in the south) have it checked at least once a year for maintenence. When my heat guy came last year he found a big fat leak in one of the pipes. If he hadn't found it, my electric bill would have been astronomical.

Hang your laundry. I haven't dried laundry in over 25 years. I have a perfectly good (brand new, as a matter of fact) clothes dryer. I did an experiment when I first moved here. I only dried my clothes ONCE, in one month, when my electric bill was practically the same from month to month. Do you know how much it cost to dry ONE LOAD? Seven dollars. That's right. $7- to dry one load of laundry at my house. That's more than if I went to the laundrimat. In the winter, I have a wooden clothes rack and a hanging clothes rack and hang all my stuff in the playroom/office. In the summer, I have three lines.

Wash in cold water. If you spend a little extra on Tide cold water detergent, you get the same result if you washed in warm or hot with a less expensive detergent.

And for pity's sake, if you have a dishwasher, only run it when it's full. I used to have a client who used to wash her BREAKFAST dishes. ONLY. and then at lunch. her LUNCH dishes. ONLY. Same for dinner. She didn't want the dirty dishes sitting all day, didn't want to wash them by hand. I loathed going to this woman's house. Not only did she waste water, she wasted electricity.

And I know this last one is kind of gross, but you know what, it's all about conservation. We only flush the toilet after three number 1's. We do flush after #2. It's a habit from the beach, and sure you need to give an extra swish with the toilet cleaner, but think how many gallons of water you are saving. I for one, do not have the money right now to put in new toilets.

Low flow shower heads are all on sale this week and next at the big box stores. For $20- bucks you can save over $100- on your water bill every year (combine that with the toilets and wow). Do you remember when we didn't have to pay for water? I do. It was a LONG time ago.

I won't go on and on about how to save gas, you should all be doing errands in one big lump. Don't just go willy nilly. Do everything you have to on one day.

And for God's sake, get rid of all your dry cleaner clothes. Do you have any idea what chemicals are produced when you dry clean. I have only worn cotton or linen clothes since I was a kid. I IRON everything. And I know some of you think I'm out of my mind, but I don't care. I refuse to buy anything I can't wash and dry and iron.


I'm the trash picking queen. If I see a piece of furntiture out on trash day, I'm there. If someone wants to give me a piece of furniture, I take it. I once made a greenhouse from old windows I found on the road. I've also decorated my office with old milk crates, orange boxes and wood from old kitchen cabinets. (I have BIG plans for the cabinets from my mother's kitchen reno this time.)

Can I just say GoodWill, the Salvation Army, church thrift stores. Donate what you don't want or can't use anymore. Give the kid's old clothes away to someone who could use them. Someone once gave me 6 garbage bags of clothes for Monster Child and I was sooooo grateful. Pay it forward.

As for old furniture, paint it or recover it. If it's ripped, sew it. Do you have any idea how much perfectly good furniture ends up in the land fills?

Buy those reusable grocery bags. Or use old beach bags. Or any kind of bags. Less plastic in the land fill for the seagulls to choke on.

I want to thank you all for getting to the end of this post. I don't climb on a bandwagon very often, but this topic is important to me. If we all just did a few of these things, we would be, not only doing something IMPORTANT, we could save quite a few bucks. And everyone loves the idea of having more cash in their pockets don't you?

This day for our Earth, isn't just one day, it's a lifestyle choice. Some changes may be easy, some may take a while to adjust to. But you know what, you're helping to reverse what we have already done. If we lose our planet, we all die.

Happy Earth Day everyone. Now go out and plant a tree. Or some flowers. Take a walk in nature and think about what would happen if it wasn't there anymore.


Laura Pauling said...

Wow! My husband's family is a product of the depression. Meaning his mom picked up habits learned from her mom during those times! Like reusing cereal bags and stuff like that. And I can one up you - our heat is usally at 64 but we have a woodstove so I don't know if that counts.

Happy Birthday!

Anne Gallagher said...

Laura -- If I had a woodstove, I wouldn't even use the heat, I don't think. I have a gas heater in the dining room but it's broken. I need a new insert. And believe me, if that bad boy worked my eletric bills would be $45 all year round.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Happy Birthday-Earth day!!

I'm a BIG recycler too.I'm big on those cleaning and laundry products that are supposed to be safer for the environment too. Some of them don't clean "as well" but I still use them.
And we don't flush for #1 every time either! (Unless company is over) LOL!

Anne Gallagher said...

Jennifer -- Thanks. I hear you about the company. And I thought I would be the only one who admitted to that quirk.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Happy birthday!! We recycle and donate and stuff. And I freeze my wife all winter long with our thermostat. Least I can do!

Anne Gallagher said...

Alex -- Thanks. Freezing in the winter is something I've been used to for years. I even bought half gloves to type with this year.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I learned to write in my thick housecoat my mother-in-law bought me a few years ago(I look like a fur trader from the olden days) so that we can keep the thermostat down when I'm the only one home. Fortunately, my fingers are too busy typing to get cold. ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh, and happy birthday. You're the second blogger I've talked to today who has a birthday today. :D

The Words Crafter said...

Happy Birthday/Earth Day! We actually do most of these things and a wood stove is on our when-we-can-afford-it-let's-do-this-list. I would also love to install solar shingles someday soon.

There are so many little things that can make a big difference. We just have to do them. Great post!

Yvonne Osborne said...

You should get on your soapbox more often. Let's add to all of this the great hoax of bottled water. I'm glad gas is $4.00 a gallon. Cost is the only thing that will make people care about MPG.

Oh, and another thing, R.R. was an idiot, not the saint some want to make him out to be, rewriting the history of his miserable presidency to make of him an icon.

Happy glorius birthday to you and Mother Earth!

Linda G. said...

Happy Birthday! Your dedication makes you worthy of sharing the day with Earth Day. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Stina -- Thank you. I know, can you imagine what people would think if they actually saw us in what we wear to write!

Becky -- Thank you. Little things add up. When I get rich and famous, I'm getting a wood stove. I had one a long time ago and miss it.

Yvonne -- I forgot to mention the whole bottled water debacle. It was on my list. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Anne Gallagher said...

Linda -- Aww thanks.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i had a link on my blog a couple weeks ago about solar roads. If you haven't watched it yet, DO SO! It will blow your mind! And then you'll be kinda angry because WHY AREN'T WE DOING THAT YET??!

Katie Mills said...

all fantastic tips Anne! You are what the french would call an 'eco mama'. A lot of the tips you talked about are already being culturally assimilated here in france. We seperate our trash, have several bins and once a month we can put out any larger things we wish to get rid of, like furniture which the local associations pick up and spruce up to be resold or given to poorer families. Electricity is very expensive here so the news is constantly reminding us to turn off our lights, use power strips, not leave the television on standby, use cups for brushing teeth, etc... I hate it when I go to my parents, they don't even recycle in south carolina (at least where they are)!!! Drives me nuts!

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- We arent' doing it yet because the powers that be don't think it's necessary. And the American people don't care.

Katie -- We have a recycle dump where one can go to recycle if we want, but the majority of people just throw stuff away. Drives me nuts.

Bossy Betty said...

You go, baby! I found myself nodding in agreement while I read your post. I love drying my clothes on the clothesline! We are the recycle kings of the neighborhood too. Still lots of things we could be doing in addition to these things. Thanks for the reminders.

Bish Denham said...

YEAH ANNE! Happy Birthday. I saw that program too. I don't believe the planet is dying. She has gone through much worse upheavals in her long life (being hit by space debris for one) and happily produced new life-forms. She naturally goes through different types of climates, ice-ages and tropic-ages. Plus she recycles everything.

What is different now is quickness of certain climactic changes. But I have no fear for Earth. She'll pull through just fine. It's humans that may not survive (which might not be such a bad thing) which will give Planet Earth time to heal, time to grow new children.

Hubby and I are rabid recyclers. I've eliminated a lot of plastic in the house by used Pyrex and Anchor glass bowls for storing and cooking. The bags in cereal boxes are used as freezer bags and I use bar soap instead of soft soap.

Anne Gallagher said...

Betty -- Still lots of things. I know, I had so many I left out a bunch of others. Yay rcycle kings. That should be the name of a band.

Bish -- I know, but sometimes we need a scare tactic before people realize just how real the threat is. As for people, you're right, we'll be the first to go. I love Pyrex and Anchor. I search out thrift stores to find it.

notesfromnadir said...

Happy Birthday, Happy Earth Day! :)

Make sure you visit GOOGLE today as it's so clever to see what they've done to celebrate Anne's big day! :

Lydia K said...

Happy Birthday/Earthday Anne! I'm not the best but I recycle religiously and compost. I could do more. This post is inspiring me to be better!

Anne R. Allen said...

Yay for Eco-mamas! And happy Earth/Birth Day!

These are great tips. But everybody needs to remember that no matter how much recycling and composting you do, if you jump in your car and drive long distances without thinking, or hop on planes and fly around the globe many times a year, you're not helping much.

I have a lot of trouble with people who fault me for flushing more than once a day, or letting a grocery clerk put a leaky frozen chicken in a plastic bag before it goes into my green bag, but then hop on a plane and fly to New York for a weekend.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Happy birthday, dear!!!!

I enjoyed every line of your post...thanks for the great tips, and reminders.


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Happy Birthday, EarthDay Girl! Super list of things we can all do to help stop the freefall we're in. Thank you.

sugeng prajitno said...

Happy Birthday-Earth day!!

Anne Gallagher said...

Lisa -- Thanks. I never got a chance to go. I'll go now. Maybe it's still up.

Lydia -- Thanks. Baby steps. It's a lifestyle choice.

Anne -- Thanks. I put my leaky chicken in a plastic bag too, but then I use the bag as a trash liner. Double use. I don't fly or drive very far these days, especially with the cost of gas out of control. Some people don't care about the environment at all, and that's up to them. I'm thinking Hollywood and the CEO's who make a bazillion dollars a year. I'm thinking the people I used to work for. And you know what, I can't convince everyone. It's not my job. But to those I can reach, and if only one person does one thing on my list, then I've done my part.

Doris -- Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Tricia -- Thanks. And what a free-for-all it is.

Sugeng -- Thank you very much.

She Writes said...

Happy Birthday! I am inspired to do more recycling. I have gotten lazy. Thanks for the reminder it matters :).

Nicki Elson said...

Dammit---I totally intended to stop by yesterday to wish you the big HB! Well, we all know what the road to Hell is paved with don't we? :/

Anyhow, Happy belated Birthday! And how perfect that it's on Earth Day. :) We have a responsibility to respect what we've been given and not abuse it, so thanks for all the tips. The thing about cereal bags never even crossed my mind! Do you know how much cereal my family goes through? And yet I never seem to have waxed paper when I need it...problem solved. ;)

And hahaha---you totally get credit for "The Big Chill"! You should get bonus points for all that extra detail you were able to provide, even pre-Google.

February Grace said...

Great post! Thanks for making me think. I'm comforted to know that at least something (the size of my carbon footprint) is better off because I haven't been able to drive a car for ten years.


Anne Gallagher said...

Amy -- Thanks. I'm glad I inspired you.

Nicki -- Don't worry about missing my birthday. Wasn't like I was celebrating anyway. Bonus points, I'll take 'em!

Bru -- Somedays I don't drive at all so it's nice. Hopefully, I'll have done my part.

Susan Fields said...

What an awesome post! You have so many great tips here, Anne. $7 to dry a load of laundry??? Wow.

And I'm a little late, but happy Earth Day and happy birthday!

Anne Gallagher said...

Susan -- Thanks for the birthday wishes. And yeah, $7-, I don't know why they say it's so cheap to live here in the south. I've found it much more expensive than New England.

Al said...

Happy Birthday Anne.

We have a long term dream of building our own sustainable house and taking it off the grid.

Anne Gallagher said...

Al -- Oh man, that would be totally awesome. I'd love to do something like that or live on an island oasis somewhere. No need for fuel or heat.

Deniz Bevan said...

Happy belated birthday Anne! Hope you had a great weekend. And Happy Earth Day and Happy Easter too.