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I was reading some comments on another blog this morning where someone had posted this list on how to ‘go green’ (found at www.goinggreen.com). We often see these lists, especially in newspapers around Earth Day and every time I read one I find a few more things I can do in my own life to ‘go green’ or what I like to think of as ‘living consciously and intentionally’, and ‘walking softly on Mother Earth’. We cannot always do everything on the list but we try to do what we can.

I thought I would go over the list with you to see how cabinorganic currently measures up at the moment. I will give myself one point for every action on the list that I am doing. I will be completely honest here, and where I can do more, I will make a public commitment to do so with you, dear readers, as my witnesses. Six months from now, I will follow up to tell you how I am doing. In the meantime, see how many of these actions you are already practicing in your life and give yourself a huge pat on the back! Also, if you have any ideas of ways I can do more, please let me know in the comments section.

1. Pull the plug: Use a power strip to turn off televisions, stereos and computer systems when you’re not using them and unplug appliances such as phone chargers, extra refrigerators, and printers until you need them.

Oh dear. I have been leaving my stereo and computer on all night. Everything else has been unplugged but I can do better. Point: 0

2. Bump your thermostat: Set it to 21 degrees and open the windows when there is a fresh breeze. (In the winter, set it to around 19 degrees and turn it down even more when you go to sleep or are away.)

The cabin stays cool in the summer due to a very shady north side so I have no need for an air conditioner. This past winter I occasionally supplemented my furnace heat with wood heat (I have an amazing fireplace in the living room). This fall I am getting the woodstove in the basement going (it is also a very efficient one) and will be able to rely mostly on wood heat this winter. This will help keep my power bill down as this cabin has two separate furnaces, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Point: 1

3. Put your fridge on a diet: If your fridge is equipped with a power-saving feature, use it. Set your refrigerator temperature at 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit; your freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

 My fridge is set at 40 and my freezer is set at 4. Point: 1

4. Read: Walden, An Inconvenient Truth, Silent Spring, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Hot, Flat and Crowded, Go Green, Live Rich.

 I am currently reading Walden, I have read Silent Spring (and wrote a paper on it in university), the Omnivore’s Diet is at the top of my list (I am looking for a second-hand copy) but I have seen two excellent online lectures by Michael Pollan (one on TED.com and one on youtube), I have not read Hot, Flat and Crowded, Go Green or Live Rich but pledge to do so. Point: 0.5

5. Cook green.

I use a toaster oven to do most of my baking as it is usually just me here. I use high efficiency cookware from AMC that requires less heat (you heat it to a certain temperature then turn off the heat while the food keeps cooking) and no water or oil to cook with (which tend to leach out valuable nutrients). I use organic ingredients (and grow my own) where possible. I am also eating more raw foods which requires no power to cook and I do all of my chopping, grating and crushing by hand. Point: 1

6. Power down your computer.

Oops. Okay, I will start powering down tonight. Point: 0

7. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees (Farenheit).

I have an old water heat that needs to be replaced. I don’t know exactly what setting it is on. I will replace the tank as soon as my budget allows and will also get one of those insulating blankets. Point: 0

8. Build a solar oven.

I do not know what this but will research it. Point: 0

 9. Test your windows and doors for leaks: Hold a ribbon near the windowsills or door jamb. If it’s fluttering, you have a leak. Caulk it up to save energy and money.

I have not tested all of my windows, but there were two windows this winter that let in a little cool air that I never got around to sealing. Points: 0

 10. Fix leaky faucets and pipes.

I just fixed the kitchen faucet this week (turned the water off until it was fixed) and H just fixed the upstairs toilet leak. Points: 1

11. Make your water multi-task: Use it more than once while grooming, cleaning, washing dishes and playing.

Last week, when my kitchen water was turned off (because the faucet needed fixing) I was very conscious about my use of water in the kitchen and was using it more than once to cut down on trips from the bathroom sink to the kitchen sink. Now that the kitchen faucet is fixed, I will continue this practice by keeping a small tub in one of the sinks to catch the grey water for reuse. As this is a brand new practice, I will only give myself half a point and will pledge to continue this. Point: 0.5

12. Go paperless.

 I am not fully paperless yet. I keep forgetting… Point: 0

 13. Make a waste-free lunch.

As I work from home, all of my lunches are usually supper leftovers from the day before. As they are eaten here, no packaging is required to transport it. Also, I use very little processed foods so there are very few cans or boxes associated with my lunches. Point: 1

14. Host a waste-free picnic with friends and family.

I have a sweet picnic basket that I found in a thrift store many years ago. It contains cloth napkins and picnic blanket, plastic reusable wine glasses, plastic, enamel camping mugs, plates and bowls, and camping eating utensils. Food is stored and transported in reusable containers. Point: 1

15. Buy less stuff.

 Making do and hand making what I need helps me live a low-consumption lifestyle. When I do buy something, it is a conscious choice and I try to buy handmade or secondhand first. This winter I will be learning how to make my own soap, bath products and soy candles. Last winter I made a beautiful quilt, made from left over fabric from other projects, as a Christmas gift. Point: 1

16. Install a CFL or compact fluorescent light bulb.

Some of my bulbs are CLBs but they were here when I moved in. Point: 1

17. Grasscycle: Leave grass clippings on your lawn (instead of bagging them up) where they will naturally decompose and hold in soil moisture, prevent freezing, and return nutrients to the soil.

I grasscycle. However, on the flipside I do have a huge lawn, which requires a large lawn tractor and gas to fuel it. In the future I will be converting as much lawn as possible (if not all of it) into veggie, herb, tea, ornamental grass and wildflower gardens, with mulch and flagstone pathways connecting them. Point: 1

18. Stop your junk mail.

 I have not one this yet. I will place a ‘no junk mail’ sign on my mailbox.  Point: 0

19. Weigh your waste: Every night for a week, collect your household garbage and weigh it on your bathroom scale. Record your results every few weeks and celebrate your success as your trash slims down.

I don’t feel the need to do this as I reuse, recycle and compost every possible thing. I deliberately buy items with require little or no packaging. I give what I can to Edmonton’s Reuse Center. I have so little waste that I only take it out every two weeks and even then the garbage can is not full. Point: 1

20. Make your own green cleaning products.

 My main cleansers are baking soda and Murphy’s oil (which is 99% natural ingredients). I know I can do more. I will make my own laundry soap mixture and fabric softener. I will go back to using vinegar water for the windows. Point: 0.5

21. Try xeriscaping.

 Xeriscaping refers to landscaping and gardening ways that reduce or eliminate the need for watering. Next spring I plan on setting up as many rain barrels as I can and using raised beds in the veggie garden. At the moment, I use a thick layer of newspaper and then a few inches of mulch in the front beds, in the little herb garden and in my containers to hold the moisture in. Point: 0.5

22. Start composting.

 Yay! I have two composts going outside and a worm bin in my basement. I compost my kitchen scraps in this plastic bin so as not to attract wild animals. Point: 1

23. Plant a tree, a flower, or a garden with your children.

I have no children but I did plant the veggie and herb garden this spring. Point: 1

24. Adopt a pet from your local animal shelter.

I adopted Lucy from NASAP on December 23, 2010. Point: 1


25. Volunteer.

I have not been actively volunteering since moving out here last fall as I have been needing a period of time in solitude. Point: 0

26. Don’t drive one day a week.

 I only drive 1 or 2 days per week. Point: 1

27. Explore nature in your local community.

 I do this daily with Lucy. Point: 1

28. Purchase carbon offsets.

 I do not know what this is but will research it. Point: 0

29. Buy local.

 I shop every Friday at my farmers’ market and purchase local meats and products at my grocery stores where available. Point: 1

30. Buy in bulk.

 I haven’t been doing this as I live alone, however, I do own a freezer that I am not currently using and I can also buy dry goods in bulk. Point: 0

 31. Bring your own reusable shopping bag.

 I do this and I use those plastic net bags for my produce. Point: 1

32. Turn trash into treasure: Get creative by using old items (such as broken gadgets, torn clothing, or plastic bottles) as art supplies.

 I do this constantly. Below are two tin cans that have been decorated with paper from Stampin’ Up to hold the pens on my desk. Point: 1

33. Make a local green guide: Canvass local stores and businesses to find sources for green goods and then compile your research into an online community buying guide.

 I have not done this yet, but what a great idea! I could do this on the blog for my community. Point: 0

34. Give back.

I donate to a few charities every year. I donate used goods to my local thrift stores. I donate my time and goods to friends and neighbors who need help or something I can provide. I would like to get more involved with my local food bank this year. I show my appreciation for what others give to me (usually by cooking for them!) Point: 1

35. Swap: clothes, toys, books, bikes, or even seeds with friends.

 I usually just give stuff away and things materialize as I need them. I supposed indirectly this is swapping… Point: 1

36. Buy organic.

Absolutely; where possible and available. Point: 1

37. Go meat-free, at least during the weekday.

I do not eat meat during the week. I usually only eat meat when I am cooking for others. Point: 1

38. Green your laundry.

I set up a clothesline this spring and rarely use my dryer. I will look into greening up my laundry detergent and fabric softener. Point: 0.5

39. Support renewable energy: If your local utility offers you a choice, select renewable energy or purchase green credits to offset your energy use.

I will look into this. Point: 0

40. Learn your labels (and learn how to spot greenwashing).

I am a label reader and a conscious consumer. Points: 1

Total Score: 25 out of 40. That is only 62.5%! Yikes! Based on this list I can clearly do more! Many of the things I am currently not doing are quick and easy, like putting a sign on my mailbox. In looking at what changes I am ready and able to make in my life at this point in time, I am ready to make a public pledge:

I, delena, at cabinorganic will:

  • unplug my electrical appliances when they are not in use and power down my computer at night
  • get my woodstove sleeve installed so that I can use it instead of depending solely on my gas furnaces
  • finish reading Walden and will read Omnivore’s Dilemma, Hot, Flat and Crowded, Go Green, Live Rich
  • replace my old hot water tank as soon as my budget allows
  • research solar ovens, compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), carbon offsets, renewable energy and green credits
  • caulk leaky windows before winter comes
  • go paperless (as much as possible)
  • but a small bin in my kitchen kink to catch grey water
  • put a ‘no junk mail please’ sign on my mailbox
  • reduce my lawn and replace with gardens
  • make some of my own green cleaning products
  • set up rain barrels in the spring and build raised beds where possible
  • buy some items in bulk
  • begin compiling a green consumer guide for my community and post it on this blog
  • get involved with my local food bank (i.e. at Christmas help as well as donations)
  • and look for other ways to consume less and be more energy efficient

I will print this up and put it up on my fridge so that I can check off things as I do them. On January 22, 2012, six months from today, I will let you know how I am doing with my pledge. Knowing that I will be accountable to you will keep me motivated! Thank you for your support! Don’t forget to share your ideas and if you are making some eco-changes in your own life, feel free to share it here and we will support you and cheer you on.