Friday, January 11, 2008

New Years Resolutions 2008, Part 2- Lessening Our Consumption and Enriching our Lives

A few days ago I posted a list of New Year's Resolutions pertaining to our house and its remodeling. Though long and exhaustive, it is not a complete list of goals for the year.

My husband and I have become increasingly concerned with environmental concerns. Over the last year or two we have obtained reusable grocery bags, searched Habitat ReStores, Craigslist, and Freecycle for needed building supplies instead of buying new, made a concerted effort to buy from the farmer's market first, and more.

Here is what we want to do this year to lessen our impact and improve our life:

Build Efficient Compost Piles
We already compost by dumping organic matter into the space between the fence and the garage. It doesn't compost very fast, however. I want to build a series of two or three compost bins to rotate the material between in this space. I even have the material: pallets that I salvaged from the scrap wood pile at the city recycling center. Some decking screws and time, and I can have a great set of bins with lots of airflow.

Plant Buffalo Grass (or other native grass)
When we finish the backyard we hope to seed with drought tolerant grasses. Why grass at all? We have dogs. A pretty lame excuse. For the past 2 years I have watered our front lawn (which is fine fescue) about 3 or 4 times a year... hopefully after establishment a native backyard will need that or less.

Use My Human Powered Lawnmower
I received a great present this year: a Brill Luxus 38 Lawnmower. My goal is to NEVER use the old gas powered one in the garage.

Replace the Front and Back Doors
We lose a substantial amount of heat out of our backdoor. I recently discovered that it is actually a hollow core INTERIOR door. No wonder the laundry room (and our bedroom) is 10 degrees colder than the rest of the house! The front door is in better shape, but rotting and cracked.

Seal ALL Windows and Doors/Apply Weatherstripping
Much heat is lost through cracks around doors and windows. Adding weatherstripping will make a big difference.

Bed Warmers
We drop the heat by quite a bit at night. We use two fluffy down comforters to keep warm. While at my parent's house this Christmas, however, we were introduced to the delights of a bedwarmer, which might allow us to drop the heat even further. We are looking to either find an old metal one to fill with heated water (reused, of course) or make one out of cherry pits. Of course, I may keep an eye out for one of these...

Shop at the Farmer's Market FIRST

We made a valiant effort this past summer to make it to the farmer's market every week before grocery shopping. We forgot a few times. This summer, I want to make it EVERY week.

Join a CSA

In addition to the Farmer's Market, I want to investigate (and hopefully join) a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I know there will be foods that we have no idea what to do with (thinking beets and squashes off the top of my head), so an additional goal is to learn to cook those foods.

Plant a Vegetable Garden

Our backyard is nearing completion. I want to finish the vegetable garden beds by April in the hopes of planting tomatoes and cucumbers and all sorts of yummy foods. I also want to more fully intersperse herbs into my flower beds.

Replace Old Plastic Tupperwares
We have a large drawer of plastic. Most of it is old yogurt and cheese containers that we repurposed for use as tupperware. We have become increasingly concerned with plastic leaching into our foods during storage and reheat, and so are looking to buy some glass containers. No worries... the old plastic will NOT be trashed. I have so many home improvement things such as nails, screws, tape, etc that would LOVE a home in a nice small container!

Find or Make Reusable Produce Bags

I found some great bags here, but the shipping from Canada is outrageous. I am hoping to make or find something similar to carry produce home in.

Buy Only Used (as much as possible)

Somewhat self explanatory. My resolution is to look at thrift stores, reuse stores, and the internet to find what I need used BEFORE I look for new. Especially clothes. Except underwear and socks.


Richard Cissell said...

Instead of a hot water bed heater, see if you can find a heated mattress pad. I think Target has them for around $100, they're probably on sale now. I was given one as a gift a few years ago when I bought my house and it has been a lifesaver. You can control each half of the bed separately so you don't both have to cook. I was just thinking about doing a post on my site about it being an essential old-home improvement tool.

Green Bean said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Loved your tale of the cobbler - inspiring to all of us to buy quality and maintain and repair.

I have the same push mower. Love it! It is so nice to mow what's left of the lawn in peace and quiet. :) Doesn't even disturb a cat sleeping on the lawn's edge.

BTW, I think I'll crib your efficiency list and give it to the old man. Cauling, sealing nooks and cranies and such is one thing we haven't even begun to address.

And lastly, re the bed warmer, I got a hot water bottle (new, I know and would have preferred to find something used, etc). But that darned thing stays hot all night long and is even warm 24 hours later. Here's a link to a post I did about it - after trying to make my own.

Aimee said...

All awesome resolutions! We need to replace our front door too, it's not really on right, so there is a big gap where you can see light, and feel the cold air pouring in too.

Kristin said...

Great list! A good reminder to me to "think green" as we work on the house this year. We usually do, but there are always more things one can do. Friends of ours have been trying to recruit us into the CSA they belong to. We may have to give it a try this year.

Kate H. said...

That is scary, realizing your back door was a hollow-core interior model.

As to bed warmers, in a pinch you can heat up a cast-iron skillet and wrap it in a thick bathtowel. But the cherry stone idea is cute if you can get enough of them.

Wendy said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I cannot wait to shave all my hair. And it's good to see another Colorado girl in my blog rounds.

And my advice if you never want to use the gas lawn mower, is to never let your lawn get too long. That's the only time that using the push mower is difficult (it'll just lay the grass right down instead of cutting). We have one and love it.

And, early next week, I'm doing a post about reusable fabric grocery bags and produce bags. Hopefully, by Tuesday at the latest. I may even be doing a giveaway.

Wendy said...

The post on everything you could ever want to know about Cheap and Easy Grocery Bags is up. Just thought I'd share.

Christiane said...

I love this list!!

Three of our local stores (HEB, Central Market and Whole Foods) all now sell reusable recycled grocery totes for 99 cents. I had a stockpile of cloth ones from years ago, but it was nice to get some new ones on the cheap!