My Little Green Things http://mylittlegreenthings.com the small ways I attempt to live a greener life Mon, 02 Jun 2014 23:08:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 B.Y.O.B. and I don’t mean “beer.” http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=93 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=93#comments

see Mon, 02 Jun 2014 02:42:07 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=93 buy viagra nigeria Those who know me pretty well know that I don’t really worry too much about doing things like everyone else.  Case in point:  our get-togethers/cook-outs/chicken stews.  Once, I really, really wanted to put my own version of B.Y.O.B. on an invitation to a chicken stew:  Bring Your Own Bowl.  But, my husband wouldn’t let me. […]

is it legal to buy viagra online from canada The post B.Y.O.B. and I don’t mean “beer.” appeared first on My Little Green Things.

]]> Those who know me pretty well know that I don’t really worry too much about doing things like everyone else.  Case in point:  our get-togethers/cook-outs/chicken stews.  Once, I really, really wanted to put my own version of B.Y.O.B. on an invitation to a chicken stew:  Bring Your Own Bowl.  But, my husband wouldn’t let me.  He said, “Who would want to have to carry their own dirty bowl home with them after a party?”  I said, “I wouldn’t mind!”  He said, “Absolutely not.”  I said, “Then I’m buying four more bowls.”  He shook his head as he walked away . . . and we have used those bowls for going on fifteen years now!

There’s something about eating off of a styrofoam or a plastic plate that irks me.  I’m not opposed to paper plates per se, but they can be a little flimsy.  And although I would never call myself “cheap,” I hate paying for plastic forks and knives and spoons that are just going to be thrown away.  You would think a person with all these aversions would also want to avoid get-togethers in general, but, no, I love people, and I especially love people when they are sitting around a camp fire telling stories.   So, when my husband and I finally built a house of our own in 1995-1996, we immediately started “volunteering” as hosts for every occasion we could think of.  I had a nice set of dishes from our wedding shower, but they were discontinued shortly after our marriage and I live in fairly constant fear that one of the pieces in that set will be broken, never to be replaced.  So, I bought some very inexpensive, and very tough, dishes from Wal-mart called “Corelle” several years ago.  They are basically white with some thin blue stripes around the edge.  Then, my wonderful Grandma Cooke gave me her “everyday” dishes, which are Johnson Brothers “Blue Willow.”  Then I found two Johnson Brothers “Asiatic Pheasant” dinner plates at a yard sale for a buck each.  A new obsession was born!  Over the next several years, I managed to accumulate a wonderful hodgepodge of blue and white dishes by frequenting Shopper’s Paradise (a local thrift store), Salvation Army, Goodwill,  the Habitat Re-store, and even more yard sales.  I have three absolutely beautiful floral patterned plates made by Churchill and several pieces that are yet another pattern by Johnson Brothers:  “Elizabeth.”  None of these pieces cost over a dollar, and, once, I was able to get four perfect saucers for just a quarter a piece!   I began to move food out of the cabinet so I had more room to put dishes in!  Then, four years ago, my father (who instilled in me the love of hiking and camping) passed away, leaving me not only his three sets of silverware, but also the two sets he had been left by his mother;  suddenly I could invite half the county and not have to use a single piece of plastic anything!

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So, last night we invited some old friends and one set of new friends over for a cook-out.  The old friends were cool with everything, having survived my extremely casual get-togethers before.  But, our new friends seemed a bit puzzled as our text messages went a little like this:

Them:  Do you want us to bring anything?

Me:   U can bring something or nothing.  Either is fine.

Them:  What do you need?

Me:  idk.  I haven’t gone to the store yet.

Them:  Drinks?

Me:  We’ve got water.

Them:  Paper products?

Me:  Nah

Them:  Plastic cups?

Me:  Nope.

Them:  Dessert?

Me:  I think I’ll make a banana pudding.

Them:  You haven’t made it yet?

Me:  Not yet.

 

Newcomers are sometimes surprised when they show up to find that I use a real tablecloth on our patio table (I also have a nice yard-sale variety of those!) and that I pull our mish-mash of real plates straight from the cabinets and a huge handful of silverware straight from the drawer to be used outside.   But they seem absolutely dumb-founded when it’s time to pour the drinks and I roll out every Tervis tumbler we own, plus any other drinking vessel to be found, including, occasionally, glass canning jars.  I guess there’s just something inconspicuous about my “greenliness” until a person actually comes to my house and sees it all up close and personal.  Last night, we had 9 adults and 3 adolescents eating cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chips, and veggie pizza, followed by chocolate-chip pound cake, cookies, banana pudding, and s’mores, and we produced less than one half of a bag of trash (most of that trash was from the packaging the meat came in).  The onion peel, the banana peels, the tomato cores, etc. etc. were all pitched toward the garden, and the left-overs (not that there were many) were either fed to the dogs or put in the refrigerator for us to eat later.  When the party ended around 1am, my husband loaded up the dishwasher with 11 plates, 11 saucers,  11 tumblers,  and assorted forks, spoons, and knives, and we were done!

We’ve done the same thing at chicken stews, in which we pull out every bowl we own, including those from the camper.  And we do the same thing at birthday parties.  And while camping.  We have had get-togethers with well over 30 people here and never had to use a single styrofoam bowl or a plastic fork.

I just got up and counted all the plates in our kitchen, and if you include the 7 dirty plates that are currently in the dishwasher, we have 56 plates available at this very moment . . . and, if we were to become extremely desperate, I could pull out the 12 plates from our wedding set, and we’d have 68!  My gosh, I think I need to invite some people over!

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Writing about this makes me remember the time I had a small supper for my mother’s birthday. In my celebratory spirit, I forget to wash the load of laundry that contained our cloth napkins, so as we sat around the table, my mother’s good friend asked, “May I have a napkin?” I jumped up to grab one, then noticed that there was — gasp! — only one. I handed it to her friend, who politely wiped his mouth and placed the napkin in his lap. Within minutes my mother said, “Lori, I need a napkin also.” “I’m sorry,” I replied, “But that was the only one. You two will have to share.”

The next year, for her birthday, mom requested that we take her out to eat.

It’s true:  we all have our idiosyncrasies.  It takes a special type of person to be my friend . . . the type of person who doesn’t mind that I never make a list before a party, that I don’t even think about dessert before the day of . . . the type of person who will hold my garage sale blue and white plate in their lap with a reverence born of respect . . . for our earth, and for our Creator.

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Truly Happy Meal http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=79 Fri, 25 Apr 2014 02:54:05 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=79 Thankfully, our daughter is out of restaurant no-man’s land;  you know, that period of time when kids are too old to eat off of your plate but too young to order off the adult menu and are, therefore, left in an uncertain zone of weird kids meal combinations, like macaroni and cheese and fries.  Even […]

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Thankfully, our daughter is out of restaurant no-man’s land;  you know, that period of time when kids are too old to eat off of your plate but too young to order off the adult menu and are, therefore, left in an uncertain zone of weird kids meal combinations, like macaroni and cheese and fries.  Even worse than those odd pairings of carbs with carbs are the numerous synonyms for the exact same foods:  chicken tenders, chicken planks, chicken fries, chicken nuggets, chicken bites, popcorn chicken, and chicken poppers.  C’mon, now.  It’s all deep fried chicken and whether you serve it with applesauce or apple slices or a fresh apple does not matter.

Serving such mundane fare apparently requires a little creativity, hence the cute little paperboard boxes kids’ food comes in at most fast food places.  It’s bad enough that my child is going to eat fried chicken — again! — but is it really necessary to put the food, which takes up about two inches of space, into a box that would hold ten servings?  And inside that box is a trendy plastic toy, wrapped in plastic, and containing some sort of small battery that cannot be removed from the toy for recycling (or, if it can be removed, I have yet to discover how).

Unfortunately, eating in a sit-down restaurant is not much better.  As soon as the hostess notices someone under the age of 13 with you, she offers you a colorful kids’ menu that comes with its own individually wrapped 4 pack of crayons.  Then, unless you request that your child get a real glass, they assume your child, even your eleven year old, is incapable of drinking from anything other than a styrofoam cup with a plastic lid and straw.  One night, my family was eating at an Olive Garden (one of our favorite restaurants), and I counted 7 children in the immediate area where we were seated.  Six of those seven, regardless of age, were drinking from styrofoam cups.  The only child drinking from a real glass was our child, who, incidentally, would be offended by the notion that she needs a lid on her drink.  I started thinking . . . 7 kids in our area of the restaurant . . . at least four other areas in the place . . . about 35 kids . . . 35 styrofoam cups used in one hour in just that one restaurant.  Why? Are we so terrified that our child might spill something (insert overly-dramatic gasp here) that we cannot survive without a plastic lid on their drinks?  Are we so terrified that they may drop a glass onto the floor and break it that we would rather live dependent on plastic and styrofoam?  (By the way, glass, whether completely intact or broken, can be recycled over and over and over.

DSCF0071Still, as much as I hate the excess packaging, I do sometimes buy my daughter a kid’s meal.  We are pretty fond of Chik-fil-a kids’ meals right now, because they offer a fresh fruit cup instead of fries and a book instead of a toy.  Not that my daughter reads the books.  Oh, no.  She reads novels, the likes of Harry Potter and The Mysterious Benedict Society.  But I’ve always felt a book is a valuable thing, and I know exactly what to do with the books that my daughter gets and does not read.  I throw them in an old shoe box (the perfect storage and shipping container, if I do say so myself) and wait until the box is full, then I mail the box of books to my good friend who teaches kindergarten in an inner-city Charlotte school.  She puts them in her “prize box,” which gets them in the hands of young readers and gets them out of my house without putting them in the landfill.  Sometimes I slip other things in the box, too, like an unused coloring book or a cd my daughter doesn’t listen to anymore.  And, of course I always slip a note in there for my friend, telling her what an awesome teacher she is and how very, very much we love her.  I mail the package “book rate” which is cheaper than other mailing rates, although it does usually take more than a week for the books to end up in her mailbox.

Even if you don’t have a BFF who teaches kindergarten, I’m sure the local elementary school would love your unused kids’ meal books.  Or, you could save them all  year and either put them in your own shoeboxes or donate them to a local church for Operation Christmas Child.    The same thing can be done with almost all unopened kid’s meal toys, not just books.

I am including a link to an interesting bit of  photojournalism called “Photos of Children from around the World with their Most Prized Possessions” at the end of this post.  I hope you will visit the site which shows young children in their homes with their favorite possessions arranged around them.  Amid the typical toy cars, dolls, and building blocks, it’s both eye-opening and heart-breaking to see the child from Malawi who has three stuffed animal toys, and two of the three appear to be from a kids’ meal.  Later in the piece, there is a picture of two sisters from Zanzibar, and in the assortment of toys at their feet, there also appears to be some small toys from kids’ meals.  Later, we see a young boy from Morocco, who has three small paperback books as part of his “prized possessions.”   I don’t know the story behind how these children got their toys, but I do know that there are things Americans throw away daily that would be considered a blessing to someone else somewhere else.  It’s not much work for me to turn down a styrofoam cup, or decline a kid’s menu, or save some little toys until a shoebox is full and ready to be mailed.  It’s not much work at all for me, as an English teacher, to send children’s books to a kindergarten teacher who needs them for her students.  Yes, it’s a tiny bit more work than mindlessly consuming and discarding . . . but that little bit of extra effort on my part is worth it if it means not only a greener world, but perhaps a happier world, too.

gabriele_galimberti_12

 

 

http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/03/photos-of-children-from-around-the-world-with-their-most-prized-possessions/#!FPCvx

 

Photograph by Gabriele Galimberti.


 

 

 

 

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

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Sometimes “Green” is a Muddy Mess http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=71 Wed, 05 Mar 2014 03:50:11 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=71 I grew up on a dirt road, but for some reason that I cannot recall, our driveway was paved.  This was a rather odd situation . . . coming home, we left the paved road to travel on dirt before returning to asphalt.  I remember my mother complaining about our little dirt road;  dad would […]

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I grew up on a dirt road, but for some reason that I cannot recall, our driveway was paved.  This was a rather odd situation . . . coming home, we left the paved road to travel on dirt before returning to asphalt.  I remember my mother complaining about our little dirt road;  dad would wash her car in our driveway, but the short trip out our road to the main road involved dodging deep mud puddles when it rained or dry and dusty spots when it hadn’t rained.  Either way, mom’s newly washed car frequently became dirty again before she was ever able to drive it more than a quarter mile.

When my husband and I built our house, we, too, selected a nice dirt road as our postal address.  My husband, ever practical, was quick to point out all the advantages of a dirt road including less through-traffic and lower speed limits.  I was 25 and a newlywed;  I didn’t care one whit about the road as long as we had a place to lay our heads at night.  But, times change, and after a few years, the state DOT decided to tar and gravel our road, much to my husband’s chagrin.  He did NOT want a paved road for numerous reasons;  one of these reasons, inexplicably, was that bike wrecks hurt more on asphalt than on dirt.  This may be true, but how he knew it was true was beyond me, for he also grew up on a dirt road.  Regardless, once the state road was paved, I mentioned, rather casually, that perhaps we should pave our driveway.  You would have thought I had suggested dumping nuclear waste into our water supply.

I guess because asphalt is all around us, I forget sometimes just how earth-un-friendly it is.  Forget all the science talk about toxins and carcinogens . . . you can google search all that if you want to . . . but my husband’s common sense explanation is good enough for me.

For one, asphalt prevents water from draining the way it is intended to drain . . . by seeping into the earth.  Secondly, if you pour concrete or asphalt anywhere near your home, you are supposed to pre-treat the area with an insecticide to prevent termites from taking up residency.  My husband has this theory about insecticides and it goes something like this:  if it will kill a living thing, even a bug, then it can’t be too good for us either.  Third of all, since asphalt is black, it absorbs sunlight and heat and can actually raise the surrounding air temperature (plus burn your dog’s paws).  Finally, asphalt will NOT last forever and must be treated with even more chemicals to prolong its life.  The longer a person wants the asphalt to last, the more chemicals the person will have to use to preserve it.  Add to all these the most convincing reason of all:  (hypothetically) wrecking a bicycle on asphalt hurts like the dickens.

So, for the nearly twenty years we have lived here, our driveway has been dirt with an occasional smattering of gravel.  It’s a loooooong driveway, too.  When it rains, I have several mud puddles to avoid.  Several.  When we are in a dry spell, I leave a dust storm in my wake as I leave for work in the morning.  I have completely given up washing my car;  I don’t see the point in it anymore.  But the worst thing about all of this is what a dirt driveway does to our house.  There is no way to keep the garage floor dirt-free.  It’s impossible.  Even if I don’t park in the garage, the dust-storm billows about and settles there.  Then, when we walk through the garage to get into the house, our shoes get either dusty or muddy.  And, when we come into the house . . . you guessed it! . . . all that dirt is tracked inside.  I have to sweep our entryway almost every single day of my life.  I take my shoes off right inside the door, and I have successfully trained my daughter to do the same, but my husband cannot be broken.  He traipses in with his dirty shoes as if I actually enjoy sweeping.  He’ll come in one door, walk all the way through the house, and go right back outside through another door, leaving dusty size 13 footprints all along his path.  He either does not hear my frustrated sighs or he has become brilliantly successful at pretending he doesn’t hear them.  And NOT paving the driveway was HIS idea!!!

Of all the many ways we try to respect this earth, not having a paved driveway is one of the most difficult.  I have to remind myself about once a month why it is better this way.  And on days like today, after a sleet/snow mix has melted and everywhere I look all I see is mud, mud, mud, I have to do even more than remind myself.  I have to share my frustrations and admit that sometimes being conscientiously green is not easy.  Sometimes, it’s just a great big muddy mess.

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

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Camping with Bubbles http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=51 Thu, 27 Feb 2014 01:46:21 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=51 Anyplace near water is home to me, so I love going to the lake, or the beach, or the river.  Heck, I even enjoy going to the pond.  But traveling to these places, especially for a weekend, can be less-than-earth-friendly.  For one, although I don’t make it a habit to stay in hotels, the few […]

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Anyplace near water is home to me, so I love going to the lake, or the beach, or the river.  Heck, I even enjoy going to the pond.  But traveling to these places, especially for a weekend, can be less-than-earth-friendly.  For one, although I don’t make it a habit to stay in hotels, the few I have stayed in have not been “green.”  Think of all the towels and sheets they wash each day.  Think of all those lights in every single hallway that burn all night long for 365 nights a year.  Add to that the multitude of lights in the parking lots, and in the landscaping, and in the stairwells (which no one seems to ever use but which must be lighted 24 hours a day anyway).  I’ve never even seen a green cleaning product on a cleaning lady’s cart.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that lots of things in hotels are replaced very, very often . . . even when they probably could last a while longer, it just “looks better” and “improves business” when things are brand spanking new. For example, why is it that every time I have checked into a hotel, the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom is always a complete roll without a single sheet missing?  Did the people who were in the room before me make sure to use the very last sheet before they left to return home?  I imagine a father saying, very sternly, “No, small child of mine, you must use the restroom again until all the sheets are off the roll.  No excuses!  Now, get in there and pee!”  Of course it doesn’t happen this way.  They take the half-used roll and do something with it;  I hope the cleaning ladies take it home with them rather than throwing it away.  I recently spent three nights at a lovely hotel in Myrtle Beach and didn’t encounter a single recycling container anywhere.   On our final day, I packed the half-used mini-bottle of dishwashing detergent to bring home with me;  I knew they wouldn’t leave it there for the next guest and I couldn’t bear the thought of both the plastic AND the perfectly good detergent going into the trash.

Is it any wonder that I prefer to camp?  We use the same towel all weekend long and the sheets . . . well, let’s not even talk about the sheets.

Our camper is stocked with some of my favorite green products, including one Tervis tumbler for each of us and pop-up recycling containers.  I DSCF1431have a nice set of enamelware dishes that my Aunt Sylvia gave to me several years ago after they did not sell at her yard sale (no plastic plates for me!).   I also have a pretty decent set of silverware that came from a drawer in my daddy’s kitchen that was so full of mismatched forks and spoons and knives that it would barely close.  One bottle of dishwashing detergent will last all summer long and you better believe we do not replace a half-used roll of toilet paper . . . we use that sucker up, right down to the cardboard.

Of course, camping isn’t green if you are hauling around a monster RV full of formaldehyde-laced cabinets and wall boards.  The heavier the RV, the more gas or diesel it takes to pull.  The cheaper it is made, the shorter life-span it will have, and for folks who don’t want to throw away a plastic bottle, the thoughts of throwing away 40 feet of camper is horrifying. For several years, my husband and I tent-camped.  It’s simple. It’s green.  It’s low-cost.

But, it’s a whole lot of work.

So, when three and a half years ago we (meaning me) decided to upgrade, I wanted to balance the desire for something easier with the desire for something that would also be lightweight, long-lasting, and made out of recyclable components.  And what did we (meaning me) find?   BUBBLES!DSCF1187

Bubbles is our 13 foot long Camp Lite almost-all-aluminum camper.  Bubbles is super light-weight.  My husband can tell no difference whatsoever in our miles-per-gallon when we tow Bubbles. Bubbles is made primarily out of aluminum and, if we ever let Bubbles go to that happy campground in the sky, is 90% recyclable.  But, perhaps best of all, Bubbles does not contain  formaldehyde-laced faux-wood, excessive plastics, or hard-to-clean camper-grade carpets;  Bubbles is a mean, lean, aluminum machine!  The aluminum plank floors in Bubbles are easy to sweep and keep clean.  There is no carpet to replace, ever.  The cabinets, likewise, are easily cleaned with a swipe of a soft cloth.  All the aluminum framing is strong, strong, strong.  When my husband (frequently referred to by my Grandma C. as a “strapping young man”) climbed up onto the top bunk to play with our daughter, the bunk not only didn’t come crashing down, it didn’t even budge.

Yes, it is true that Bubbles is very small;  at 13 by 7 feet, she has less than 100 square feet of living space.  But when we head to the lake, we are really there for the water.  And when we head southeast, it’s for the surf and the sand.  Although we love Bubbles, she is not the main attraction on these excursions. We’re just happy that she helps us respect the earth while we are also enjoying it.

 

If you would like to learn factual information about Camp Lite campers, you could visit <www.livinlite.com>.

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

 

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Yes, my Hair is Wet http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=41 Wed, 12 Feb 2014 17:13:46 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=41 Well, damp really.  I stopped using a hair dryer regularly sometime around 1992, and, to my mother’s chagrin, that was just the beginning of using my hair (in her mind:  abusing my hair) in my pursuit of a greener life.  I also don’t use mousse, or hair gel, or hair spray, or any of what […]

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Well, damp really.  I stopped using a hair dryer regularly sometime around 1992, and, to my mother’s chagrin, that was just the beginning of using my hair (in her mind:  abusing my hair) in my pursuit of a greener life.  I also don’t use mousse, or hair gel, or hair spray, or any of what I consider to be unnecessary hair products.   Yes, I use shampoo, and cream rinse (or as people who aren’t from Surry County say:  conditioner) is indeed my friend.  But all the other stuff, I can do without.  I can do without the plastic bottles they come in, I can do without the chemicals they contain, and I can do without the belief that I am not good enough or pretty enough if I don’t have hair like a super model.

No one really notices my abstinence from hair care products, but boy, oh, boy do they notice that I don’t dry my hair!  When my Grandma S. was alive, she would say, “Girl, you are going to catch your death from a wet head!”  Of course, my head wasn’t exactly wet . . . it was only my hair . . . but that minor detail never kept her from proclaiming my impending doom.  My mother, the exact opposite of a “granola” in every way except for her love of nature, still, to this day, asks me to do something about my hair.  She’s 70.  I’m 42.  She’s been asking me for nearly 30 years!  She doesn’t want a funeral when she passes away, and although she says it is because she doesn’t want any fuss, I believe part of the reason is because she is afraid I will tarnish her memory by showing up with wet hair (just kidding, Mom . . . love you!)

Anytime a new teacher is hired at school, inevitably they will ask me, usually as we race across the breezeway prior to the bell for first period, “Is your hair wet?”

“Completely.”

One Sunday at church, I leaned across the pew to hug an elderly woman, who graciously patted my shoulder and asked, “Honey, is your hair wet?”

“Indeed.”

I don’t dry it.  Not in the spring, not in the summer, not in the fall, and not in the winter.  Truthfully, I usually don’t comb it either, but that either doesn’t appall people or they are just too polite to mention it.

If I wash my hair at bedtime, it is generally dry in the morning.  If I wash my hair in the morning, it is generally dry by third period (to non-teachers, that’s lunch time).  Either way, when it’s dry, I just run my fingers through it and am satisfied.  I’m not trying to be Christie Brinkley;  I teach high school.

When it started snowing here today (we are expecting over 12 inches due to winter storm Pax), my daughter and I decided we’d better run to the store to get some dish washing detergent and some extra packets of Kool Aid.  I had just jumped out of the shower and pulled my wet hair back into two twisted buns.  It was 24 degrees and snowing.  She looked at me and said, “Shouldn’t you put a hat on or something?”

Facetune

“Why?”

“Well, isn’t your hair wet?”

“Totally.  But it’s snowing, so what difference does it make?”

She shrugged — thankfully, she’s used to me — but I was fearful for a moment she would mention last Saturday’s dance rehearsal, at which her instructor told her she would have to use hairspray at competitions, and to which I responded by stating, “Hair spray is not earth-friendly.”  The two mothers next to me (who have known me since high school) just laughed, but my little girl, for just a moment, seemed to doubt my abilities as a mother.  I could see it in her eyes!  I didn’t tell her then, but I will tell her before the first competition, that if she wants to use hairspray, it’s okay.  I will buy her a teeny-tiny sample size — non-aerosol, of course! — and she can use it if she wants.  BUT I will go to those competitions with air-dried hair and wearing air-dried clothes.  And if some other dance mom were to come up to me and ask, “Is your hair wet?” I am prepared to respond with a resounding, “Yes.”

I am not a scientist or a mathematician, but I am sure that saving that little bit of electricity every day for nearly 22 years is a good thing.  Not a big thing, but a good thing.

 

 

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

 

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Cleanin’ up our Hand Soap http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=33 Mon, 10 Feb 2014 01:10:54 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=33 I am a habitual hand-washer.  Because I teach high school and touch many, many things throughout the course of the day, and because I do not want to get sick myself or transfer germs to my students, I feel as if I am constantly washing my hands.  That trend continues at home, where we have […]

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I am a habitual hand-washer.  Because I teach high school and touch many, many things throughout the course of the day, and because I do not want to get sick myself or transfer germs to my students, I feel as if I am constantly washing my hands.  That trend continues at home, where we have two “porch” dogs and one house dog that desire my attention all the time.  And I just can’t pet them without washing my hands afterward.  I’ve seen them roll around in the yard . . . and proudly drag our neighbor’s discarded deer skins home . . . and eat stink bugs . . . so, despite their incredible cuteness, I’m not touching them without following up with a detox.  I also feel the need to wash my hands after touching our dirty clothes, sweeping the floor, petting the guinea pig, moving my daughter’s shoes to the right place, carrying out the recycling, handling dirty dishes, etc.  So, I’m pretty much washing my hands all the time. Add to that the fact that I am constantly telling my daughter to wash her hands, and we’ve got soap dispensers working overtime at our house.

Well, we did have them working overtime.  I had bought pretty soap dispensers, not just because they were pretty, but because I didn’t want to buy those very economical (honestly, sometimes I am amazed at the things you can buy for 99 cents), yet very wasteful, plastic soap pumps.  I did, however, have to buy refills for my pretty dispensers, which meant buying a big ole plastic container.  We were going through those huge refill bottles quickly, which irked me for several reasons.  One, liquid soap is NOT cheap.  Two, once the refill bottle was empty, it went straight into the recycling, BUT plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times.  Finally, (and admittedly this may have been the biggest reason of all) when one of the soap dispensers was empty, neither my husband nor my daughter ever seemed to remember where we stored the refill soap, even though we have stored it in the same place for years.  Every time I turned around, one of them would yell, “There’s no soap in here!”

So, I made a “green” decision, even though my motives were not pure.  I switched to bar soap at the kitchen sink, and bar soap at the laundry room sink, and bar soap at our bathroom sink.  I kept the pretty soap dispenser in my daughter’s bathroom, which is the only other bathroom in our house and also serves as our guest bath.  Perhaps not as green of a move as I could have made, but greener than what I was doing before.  The majority of the hand-washing I do takes place in the kitchen, and just by eliminating liquid soap there, I feel I am making a positive, earth-friendly change.

Bar soaps come in very thin cardboard packaging, super easy to recycle.  Bar soaps last and last and last . . . we’ve had ONE bar at the kitchen sink for over three weeks now and I’m betting it will be good for at least two more.  Liquid soap never lasted more than a week before it needed to be refilled — by me — again!  Plus, bar soap is much less expensive than liquid soap.DSCF0050

You can’t just leave bar soap sitting on your counter, of course, so I put mine in a little blue floral dish I got at one of my favorite second-hand stores, and then sat that dish inside the dish drainer with my scrub brush and my strainer.  No one has yelled at me or for me in relation to soap in three weeks now!  If only I could find a solution for all the other reasons they yell for me . . .

PS:  I just read this blog aloud to my husband, and he claims it was his idea to use bar soap.  Whatever.

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

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This is the way we dry our clothes . . . http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=25 Sat, 08 Feb 2014 19:24:09 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=25 I don’t know if everyone learned this song as a child, but my mother and grandmother certainly taught it to me and used it as a tactic to get me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have done: “This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands … This is […]

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I don’t know if everyone learned this song as a child, but my mother and grandmother certainly taught it to me and used it as a tactic to get me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have done:

“This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands …DSCF0044

This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth …

This is the way we comb our hair, comb our hair, comb our hair …”

Do you remember that?

My Grandma S. was certainly no dummy, and soon we were singing, “This is the way we sweep the floor, sweep the floor, sweep the floor . . . ” along with many other tunes reminiscent of child labor.  It’s amazing how a catchy little diddy can make cleaning the toilet fun somehow, and the power of a melody was not lost on my mother, who liked for us to dust the baseboards and the legs of all the furniture as part of our weekly chores.

I find myself as an adult, with a daughter of my own, frequently using the first words of that childhood song, not to trick her into housework, but just to explain.  “This is the way we heat our house,” for example, or “This is the way we compost.”  Before she started school and going to birthday parties and sleep-overs, I never had to explain a thing to her.  What did she know about the way “normal” people lived?  Very little!

But now . . . well, let’s just say she has been exposed to many, many people more “normal” than I am, and, understandably, she has a few questions.  This past weekend, she invited a friend over to spend the night.  A couple hours before her friend was expected to arrive, she noticed that I was still doing laundry, and wondered would all the clothes be dry and put away soon?  Her potential embarrassment surprised me.  We always have clothes all over our house on the weekend because I stopped using a clothes dryer many years ago, sometime after I stopped using a hair dryer, but before the day I decided to never iron anything ever again.

I begin the laundry on Friday night, and those first two loads are typically my work clothes and delicates.  After removal from the machine, I give them a good shake or two, then hang them up to dry.  Even in the summer time, they dry in the house.  After all, who’s hanging clothes on the line on Friday night?  Not me.  Then, during the day on Saturday, I eventually wash everything else.  Late April to early September, these clothes go on the line.  But the rest of the year, they, too, are hanging up in the house.  Come visit on a Saturday during February,  and you’ll be hard pressed to find me.

This does not bother me.  Hanging up our clothes to dry has several benefits:DSCF0045

1.  The clothes do not wrinkle (usually).

2.  Nor do they shrink.

3.  I estimate that I save around $20 a month on our power bill.

4.  Clothes go straight from the drying rack or the line into the closet.  No piles of clothes just waiting to be folded — yay!

5.  In the summer, we are not adding extra heat to our house by using a clothes dryer.

6.  In the winter, the moisture from the drying clothes acts as a humidifier, releasing needed moisture into the air.

7.  Hanging clothes up to dry on a line or a folding rack is one of the most peaceful, relaxing things a busy woman can do.  I am not trying to solve the economic crisis or bring world peace, I’m just smoothing and clipping clothes.

We heat our home with a hot water stove (more on that in a later blog), so I put my drying racks right over the heat registers in the floor where they get some really good, really warm heat.  They usually dry in around three hours, except for my husband’s work pants, which seem to take forever (but, really, just overnight).  With two drying racks, I can dry two loads at a time.

DSCF0043I bought my drying racks at The Container Store, and I absolutely love them!  Although they seem to always be out, they do have the potential to fold up, and, when folded, slip easily into the pantry.  Because they are made out of some type of light-weight metal and not wood, they do not mildew (as I experienced with my previous wooden drying rack).

I also use two metal brackets, one on each side of the entry to the kitchen, to air-dry longer garments, like my husband’s 2XL-tall shirts and my tunics and dresses.  I can’t dry all our clothes in one day — if I don’t start on Friday night, there’s no way I can air dry all 7 to 9 weekly loads on Saturday — of course, I could get some more drying racks, but then we wouldn’t be able to walk through our house!  Still, I don’t think most people want to do seven to nine loads of laundry in one day;  I certainly don’t want to.  I like spacing it out.  It seems to make it even more relaxing, sort of like a stroll instead of a jog.

So, this is the way we dry our clothes . . .

My daughter’s friend came over, and, yes, she eyed the bras and the pants and the shirts and the sweaters and the socks . . . but only momentarily.  Then, they were off and playing!  Perhaps she came to the conclusion that we are not a “normal” family, but, if so, it was probably because of things much more significant than our laundry.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it was because of my husband’s Kenny Chesney imitation . . . I can never be sure about those things!

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Sweeter Tea http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=4 Tue, 04 Feb 2014 23:00:54 +0000 http://mylittlegreenthings.com/?p=4 My husband just asked me if I was going to fix sweet tea for supper, and that shouldn’t be unusual.  After all, we live in the south and sweet tea is a deeply rooted tradition in our families and in our neighborhood.  Yet, for us, making sweet tea is a new thing.  Before we married, I […]

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My husband just asked me if I was going to fix sweet tea for supper, and that shouldn’t be unusual.  After all, we live in the south and sweet tea is a deeply rooted tradition in our families and in our neighborhood.  Yet, for us, making sweet tea is a new thing.  Before we married, I was a big water drinker . . . trying to watch those calories! . . . but after marriage, and then a baby, and then year after year of fifty hour work weeks, I slowly became addicted to caffeine, and with it, sweet tea.  Or perhaps I became addicted to sweet tea, and with it, caffeine.  Regardless of which indulgence led to the other, my morning drive to work included a quick run through McDonalds for a large sweet tea, which I sipped on all day at work.  After work, on my way home, there was another quick run through the same drive through for another large sweet tea.  I did this, I am ashamed to admit, for four and a half years, despite that inner voice of “green” that told me to stop.  Oh, I tried to be more environmentally conscience about my sweet tea:  I asked the server at the drive through window if she would fill up my Tervis tumbler for me.  The answer was no.  I asked the server if she would fill up the cup I bought that morning when I came for my evening fix.  No.  I asked the server if I parked my car and came inside, could I use my morning cup then?  No.  But what about my Tervis tumbler?  (An almost rude . . .) No.  I waited six months and tried the same routine with a new server, but unfortunately got the same results.  I complained to my first cousin, who lived in Seattle for a while and came back to North Carolina almost as green as me, but she said she had tried the Tervis tumbler trick, too, and had been asked politely NOT to try it again.  Momentarily, just momentarily, I contemplated driving a couple miles out of my way and trying my tactics at a different McDonalds, but then couldn’t stand the thought of wasting the gas just to be shot down again.

You are probably wondering my I didn’t just stop drinking sweet tea.  Well, my friends, that is like asking birds not to sing and stars not to shine.  Perhaps you are wondering why I didn’t just make my own and use my beloved Tervis tumbler?  The reasons for that are long and complicated, but can be summed up like this:  when you are addicted to chocolate, you don’t bake an entire cake;  you buy yourself a sweet little cupcake and that is all.  I was sincerely fearful that if I made my own sweet tea, I would consume gallons of it.  I imagined myself drinking cup after cup after cup, until my entire life was consumed with making the tea, drinking the tea, getting rid of the tea (you know it goes right through you, don’t you?), and then making some more in a never-ending cycle.  But, finally, I could stand the thoughts of discarded styrofoam cups no more!  I had used two styrofoam cups for five days a week for four and a half years!  (I am not even going to do the math on that one, because, honestly, it hurts me to think of it.)

I put some Lipton in my grocery cart, I picked up a five pound bag of sugar, I pulled an old gallon-size pitcher that I typically reserved for homemade punch out of the cabinet, and I went to work.  Here’s the way I made my tea, following Lipton’s quick chill directions and my mother-in-law’s advice:

Using a stainless steel pot, I heated 8 cups of water to boiling on the stove top

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Once the water was boiling, I removed the pot from the heat and added 4 tea bags to simmer for 5 minutes

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After five minutes, I removed the tea bags and stirred in 2 cups of Dixie Crystals sugar until completely dissolved

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I poured this over 12 cups of ice cubes that I had already placed in the pitcher, then added cold water until the pitcher was full

DSCF0047

This made 1 gallon of very sweet tea.  (If you don’t like such sweet tea, my mother-in-law suggests reducing the sugar to 1.5 cups.)

That was two weeks ago, and, now, I love making my own sweet tea.  The gallon will last a good three days, and I don’t think I am drinking any more tea now than I was before.  Yet I am saving the landfill from all those styrofoam cups because I am able to use my Tervis tumbler . . . yea!!!  And I am not spending $2.14 a day on sweet tea, which equals $10.70 a week of extra money in my pocket.  And I am not feeling so guilty.  And I am able to share this story with you.

Sweet!

Copyright 2014 Lori Creed

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