Friday, August 29, 2008

Small changes that you can make starting today that are FREE or nearly FREE and still save the environment

Stop using paper towels (if you have them, use them up and then buy or make (instructions to follow) kitchen rags)
Stop using paper napkins (see above)
Go on an unplugging rampage – unplug the energy vampires around your house that just sit and do nothing most of the time
Make lentils and rice for dinner (recipe to follow)
Turn off the TV
Go without make-up for one day a week
Wear your jeans one extra day before washing
Stop (and seriously I mean STOP) buying individually packaged water and soft drinks
Add water to your shampoo, conditioner, body soap, dish soap, liquid laundry soap – you know you use too much anyways so what harm is a little water going to do?
Don't run to the store for that one thing – just make do without it today
Skip showering every once in awhile
If it's yellow let it mellow (I know that seems gross, but if you pee twice a night it is ok to let the first one sit until the next time)
Turn off the A/C in your car, roll the window down and feel the breeze
Turn off the A/C in your home if it isn't 95* + out (we do not use A/C unless the temperature gauge reads triple digits)
Stop sprinkling your plants a little every day – if you want to save water then you must water deeply, less often (LINK) <--click link for 100 ways to save water
Stop patronizing restaurants that send take-out home in Styrofoam – better yet, eat at home more – it saves you money
Find a sunny spot in your yard and plant a garden – it's fall in the US right now – plant fall crops (see my posts on fall gardening)

Most of these things cost little to no money, or just plain save you money. They also do not require a major lifestyle change, but they are a great place to start if you are trying to find a way to go green but are not ready to buy a Prius, install Solar panels, or forswear the car.

Quick and easy paper towel substitutes
– the easy way is to buy a big bundle of white shop rags at Target ($3). We wash them until they are either too stained, or too worn out to keep using. If you are a more DIY kind of person then grab that old ratty bath towel that you keep meaning to throw out and cut it into washcloth sized squares – serge or hem the edges, or just let 'em unravel. I do this all the time and we NEVER buy paper towels. If something is so gross that you think you MUST use a paper towel, just find the oldest rattiest rag, use it and toss it. If it's a cotton rag, you can actually compost it. But that's purely your choice. I sometimes pick up nice towels at yard sales for a quarter. I know this sounds creepy but wash them well and they're fine. They're great to repurpose into kitchen rags.

Paper napkin substitutes are easy too, use the rags from above, or buy some muslin at a fabric store – cut into squares and hem. Buy them at a yard sale, estate sale, thrift shop – whatever, just promise me that next time you go to use a paper towel or paper napkin that you think about this post, and remember just how easy, cheap, or even free it would have been to take one small step to save the environment.

Lentils & Rice recipe -
Quantities are based on family size (we ate lunch and dinner from the following recipe)
1# Puy Lentils (French Green)
1 ½ cups dry rice (make in rice cooker or stove – whichever way you usually make rice)
1 medium onion
Garlic to taste
Cumin powder to taste (2 TBSPs)
Garam Masala to taste (2 TBSPs)
Plain Yogurt
1 qt Chicken Broth

I started the rice in the rice cooker which takes 45 minutes.
Then I placed the washed, sorted lentils in a pot with the broth, onion, garlic, and spices.
Bring lentils to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover.

When the rice is done (45 mins – 1 hour) the lentils should be done.
Serve in bowls layering lentils on top of rice with a big dollop of yogurt on top.
I like mine with lots of salt ;)
It's delicious, healthy, low fat, and CHEAP – oh and better yet no cow polluted the environment or died to feed you. We are eating like this 3x a week. I hope our waistlines, health and pocketbooks will show the results soon.

Just take a couple steps today
– limit a trip, turn off a light, skip the take-out. It adds up.

You don't have to ride a bike to love the earth.

I know it would be grand and all, but sometimes it just isn't practical.


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