Reduce, reuse, recycle.
This is the mantra of the efforts to “save the planet”. Now, while I’m the first to deride people over that particular turn of phrase (I mean, seriously, the planet is not really in danger – the ecosystem humans require to live in is, but until a comet lines us up in its cross hairs the planet is doing just fine), I do actually agree with many of the methods and goals of environmentalism.
I’ve blogged numerous times about reducing junk mail, and I’m about to do it again. I simply cannot say enough about the program that was called Green Dimes, then Mail Stopper and is now called Precycle. Back when I first bought my house we were getting a mailbox full of junk nearly every day. There was so much wasted paper that it was a pain in the ass to bother dragging it to a place that would recycle it. It seemed like such a no-brainer that better than recycling junk mail was to stop it from coming at all. Combining the use of this service plus switching over to eBilling for nearly all my bills, I have an empty mailbox three or more days a week. The junk is just gone. So, not only do I not have to deal with it coming in, I also don’t feel guilty about throwing it out because I’m too lazy to recycle it. Win-win.
We’ve switched over almost entirely to drinking water (or Crystal Light which is just water with some powder mixed in), so this means less cans and bottles. Much like the Precycle above, not having things to recycle is better than recycling.
We also tend to buy in bulk when we can, which reduces the amount of packing materials. Combined with the stopping of junk mail, I almost feel ripped off paying for weekly trash service because we only cart the can to the street once a month (more often if it’s stinky). I say almost because driving to a dump and paying per bag ends up costing about the same, and since a few dozen of my neighbors use the same trash service (and more often than us) I wouldn’t be saving anything by cancelling our curb pickup.
Over the winter, the wife an I experimented with a space heater. Rather than heat up the whole house we kept the thermostat relatively low and then just heated up the room we were in. It worked out fairly well and we managed to save a little money. It’s a plan we are going to try this summer as well with the use of fans. Though while a heater is a heater, a fan isn’t an air-conditioner, so we may be met with limited success.
All in all, I really do feel like I’m doing my part. I encourage everyone to take a look at their lives and see where they can make changes, not just for “the planet” but for themselves and their own pocket books. Saving the environment is good. Saving money is great. When you can do both at the same time, that’s awesome.