Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Going Green with Prudence Claire

Hello everyone and welcome to another Wednesday morning. Now because I truly hate Wednesdays and would spend the entire day in bed if I can, I have decided to get someone else to do my work for me today. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to the lovely Prue from Prudenceclaire, and she is something of an expert when it comes to sustainable living. Today she has very kindly offered to come along and teach us all a little bit about how we can change to a greener lifestyle, so please sit back and enjoy some of her wisdom.

Hi, I'm Prue.

Let's talk green.  Somehow over the years I've morphed into one of those annoying environmentally conscious people.  Everything I've learned along the way about "going green" has made me something of an accidental expert on the subject.  I can tell the difference between a genuine green brand and a green wash.  I even know what some of the numbers mean on the ingredients list (925 is chlorine, for example).

Most of us are concerned to some extent about the environment, our bodies and our kids.  It's not hard to introduce a few changes to your everyday life which can reduce your exposure to chemicals and have a huge environmental impact.

Here's my list of easy things you can do to green your life:

  • While running your shower waiting for the hot water to come in, collect the water in a bucket and use it to water plants.  You can also collect the water from your kitchen sink.
  • Plant a veggie patch.  Check out which plants deter bugs and you can intersperse them amongst your vegetable plants - a lot of herbs that you might want in your garden anyway will also keep the bugs off your other plants.
  • Get yourself some chickens.  If you have chickens and a vegetable garden there's wonderfully complete cycle where you eat the eggs, feed the chickens your food scraps, and you can crush the egg shells to deter slugs and snails from eating your veggies.  Plus, later you can kill the chickens and eat them.  Just kidding.  Or am I?
  • Get rid of your lawn. This is a little radical, I know. But a dead lawn is an ugly lawn, and watering it is such a waste of water. Install synthetic turf or if you don't like the look of that, pave, install garden beds with drought tolerant plants, whatever - just get rid of the water sucking lawn.
  • Always choose drought tolerant plants that flourish with minimal water. Or better yet, choose plants that are local to your area. Tropical plants are beautiful but all that bright green fleshy foliage needs LOTS of water. If you live in an arid area like me in Perth, for heaven's sake choose plants that aren't going to struggle in the blistering conditions.
  • Compost your food scraps to use on the garden. Start to look at your rubbish bin as a last resort. You want to put as little in there as possible.
  • Don't use your toilet as a rubbish bin either - the less solid waste to be broken down in the sewer system, the less chemicals they have to use to break it down.
  • Sort your rubbish as you throw it away - get a dedicated recycling bin to put next to your normal waste bin.
  • When throwing out plastic bottles, remove the lids. They're a different type of plastic and therefore have to be processed differently at the recycling plant.
  • Things that should go in your recycling bin - plastic wrap, al foil, tin cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles.
  • Buy your groceries from farmers' markets or independent supermarkets instead of Coles or Woolies.  You can learn more about the Coles/Woolies duopoly here (this video is from 2010 but the information is still relevant and accurate).
  • Walk, take public transport or ride a pushbike to places nearby - if you ride a bike, BONUS! Incidental exercise!  You'll be green AND hot.
  • Choose local sellers online.  On eBay you can refine your search for items near you only.  This saves on fuel and transportation costs.
  • Buy secondhand: search for secondhand items instead of new ones on eBay and Gumtree.  I often hear people say "Oh, it already exists so I may as well buy it" about buying new items.  In actual fact, by buying something brand new you're adding to the demand for new items.  Go op shopping!  The great thing about op shops is they're not really in vogue at the moment so there is SO MUCH great stuff.  I remember in the 90s when everyone was into grunge all the op shops had been picked over so many times it was impossible to find anything but mom jeans and Bill Cosby jumpers (although nowadays that stuff would be really popular).
  • Take reusable bags to the supermarket.  I'm from SA where plastic bags are practically illegal and when they're not readily available at the shop (or when you pay 20c per crappy compostable bag) it's amazing how quickly you get used to bringing your own.
  • Choose bamboo over cotton.  You can find bed linen, towels and even clothes made out of bamboo.  It is about a thousand times softer than cotton, it's a fast growing crop, requires about a third of the amount of water that cotton does, has no natural pests.  I have some bamboo towels and every time people come to stay they marvel over how fluffy and soft they are.
  • Choose glass instead of plastic e.g. I buy my tonic in the little glass bottles instead of the big plastic ones. Bonus is that it doesn't go flat.
  • Get a front loading washing machine - saves water, electricity AND much gentler on your clothes.  Not only that, it actually cleans them better than a top loader.  True story.
  • Do your washing in cold water instead of hot.
  • Dress to the weather - put on a jumper and socks instead of turning on the heater, wear cool clothes in summer instead of cranking up the air conditioner.
  • Don't use your air conditioner unless it's less than 15 or more than 35 degrees.  If you must run the air con, set it to 20 in winter and 25 in summer.
  • If you're lucky enough to be building your own home, choose an energy efficient design.  A roof full of solar panels doesn't count, although it is a great start.  A truly energy efficient building uses less power and water and creates less waste, and in some cases actually contributes positively to the environment.
  • Choose energy saving light globes and it goes without saying, don't leave them blazing all day and night. 
  • Turn off or better yet unplug your appliances at the wall.
  • Invest in Enjo cleaning products and do away with chemicals altogether.  Enjo is amazing and cleans better with less effort than using chemicals.  I don't know how it works, I just know that it does.
  • If you're not into Enjo, tear up old clothes to use as cleaning rags instead of paper towel - reduce waste and the incredibly toxic pulping process required to make paper products.
Let's be realistic.  This is a long list.  I don't do all of them.  I can't be bothered to turn off and unplug my appliances at the wall.  My sister does this and I salute her.  I just cannot be bothered to plug in and unplug the TV every time I want to watch it.  I also can't be bothered to collect the water from my kitchen sink, although I do collect it from the shower.  My fiancĂ© Blair feels the heat and so we run the air conditioner in summer more than I'd ever do on my own.  Sometimes I just grab the spray and wipe and the paper towel instead of the Enjo glove.  We're all human.

The point is to find a system where you're doing what you need to for the environment without getting pissed off at the inconvenience.  Anything that you do is better than nothing.  Don't beat yourself up about the things you don't do and just be proud of those that you do.

The fact is that living responsibly is not as easy as being lazy.  You do have to make an effort and change your habits and if you don't really care then it will always feel like a massive pain in the ass.  To me, it's become so ingrained that I barely think about it anymore.  It wasn't until I wrote this post that I realised just how much I know about this stuff now.

I hope this has been helpful or got you thinking about the things you can do.  The difference you can experience in your own health and well being when you do away with chemicals in the home, as well as the positive impact on the environment when we're all using less power, less water, less EVERYTHING, is tremendous.

xxx Prue 

Ok so how many of you learned something today?? I know I certainly have, and even though there are a lot of things on this list that we all already do, I believe we can all do a little bit more. I'd like to give a big thank you to Prue for coming by today, if you want to learn more about sustainability, or read anything else this lovely lady has to say, please stop by her website and show her some of your wonderful love. 

Well that's all from me for today, I'm now going to go and remove all the lids from the bottles in my recycling pile. I'll be back again soon, and in the meantime, please pop over to Prue's website to see some very important secrets about being a parent, that I have shared with her readers.

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