Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Green Changes - Done List #1

While I'm not presently undertaking a green challenge like green as a thistle or No Impact Man (and kudos to them!), I thought I would share some of my own successes and failures in creating change in my own life. This post is the beginning of a series of Green Changes posts, in which I will share my Done List and my To-Do List. If I'm really savvy, I might be able to keep up the numbering system. Later, I may even elaborate on each of the changes and why I chose to make them.

Though I can't really pinpoint the time at which I began making these changes (as I've always been a bit of a an eco-hippy), most of them I have adopted over the past ten years. I find that there exists a gentle ebb and flow to my pattern of change - I'll make a handful of changes all at once, then give them the opportunity to stick (or not). After a while, I reassess and revisit my choices, reevaluating them on occasion to be sure that they are aligned with my values. After all, new information is available all the time, and new products seem to appear daily. If I'm to remain true to my desire to live consciously, staying present and in-the-moment, I need to read labels and articles and do some comparison shopping to familiarize myself with the available products - only then can I make an informed and grace-ful decision.

Unfortunately, I don't know of a good way to organize my list other than to string it along. Perhaps that will change as well as I give it more thought and a wave from my magical creativity wand. In the meantime, Ideal Bite has a ton of green tips, and they're organized deliciously. Mine, on the other hand, are in no particular order.

My Green Changes - Done List #1
  • Stopped using commercial toilet cleaners - only baking soda/vinegar
  • Stopped using home fragrances except candles or incense
  • Stopped using aerosols
  • Stopped getting nails done - (for a while I was convinced gels kept my nails "healthy"!)
  • Stopped using nail polish and nail polish remover almost entirely - (I only use it about once a year for special occasions, and then I use a neutral color without formaldehyde by No-Miss Nail Polish )
  • Stopped dying hair (though I'm itching to change it again - maybe henna?)
  • Switched feminine product brands - Seventh Generation (no chlorine bleach, recycled packaging, no applicator) (still planning to change to the Diva Cup and reusable cloth pads)
  • Switched counter top cleanser - Seventh Generation (soon switching to only baking soda/vinegar and diluted essential oils)
  • Switched laundry detergent - Seventh Generation
  • Switched hand soap - Avalon Organics, then Dr. Bronners (LOVE IT!)
  • Switched dishwasher detergent - Seventh Generation
  • Switched dish soap - Ecover, Seventh Generation
  • Switched toothpaste - Tom's of Maine, then Dr. Ken's
  • Switched body soap - Kiss My Face pure olive oil bar soap (minimal packaging, too!)
  • Switched body lotions - Avalon Organics, Body Shop body butters (though they contain parabens and other undesirable ingredients, they do not test on animals and they support fair and community trade efforts)
  • Switched foundation - Body Shop w/ SPF 15 (still looking for a better one)
  • Switched shampoos - Avalon Organics (still looking)
  • Switched conditioner - Avalon Organics, Nature's Gate (still looking)
  • Switched face wash - Desert Essence (LOVE IT!)
  • Switched face mask - Desert Essence (LOVE IT!)
  • Switched mascara - Ecco Bella
  • Switched perfume - Kuumba Made
  • Switched eyeliner - Gabriel
  • Switched face powder/compact - Zia refillable compact (still looking for a better one - contains parabens...but love that it's refillable)
  • Switched shave gel - Kiss My Face, then Avalon Organics (Kiss My Face was my favorite, but it had parabens)
  • Switched lip balm - Burt's Bees (LOVE IT!)
  • Switched to recycled toilet paper - Seventh Generation, Giant Eagle
  • Switched to recycled paper towels - Seventh Generation, Giant Eagle
  • Using cloth dish towels instead of paper towels whenever possible
  • Washing laundry in cold water
  • Recycling all recyclable post-consumer materials: cardboard, glass, paper, metal, plastic, paperboard
  • Purchasing used/pre-owned whenever possible
  • Strategically reduced driving mileage
  • Reusing mugs and glasses at work and at home - same one, hand washed, for a few days before using a different reusable mug/glass
  • Drying clothes on rack whenever possible
  • Hand washing clothes when possible - (going to try Dr. Bronner's soap for hand washing as soon as I run out of my Woolite)
  • Reduced, virtually eliminated, need for dry cleaning
  • Located a green dry cleaner - (have yet to try it, as I don't do much dry cleaning)
  • Purchasing in bulk when possible - food, soaps/detergents, tea (loose-leaf), spices
  • Purchasing fresh produce whenever possible (not only for health, but also to reduce packaging)
  • Purchasing local when possible (looking into local CMA - have yet to try)
  • Reusing scrap paper at work and home - (I tear full sheets into quarters and use the blank side for notes, which I clip together using a binder clip)
  • Turning off water while brushing teeth, washing face or hands, shaving; trickle other times, as needed
  • Lamps on timers
  • Utilizing daylight instead of artificial lighting whenever possible
  • Using fans instead of A/C whenever possible
  • Reusing plastic silverware whenever possible - (washed, of course!)
  • Collecting recyclables from work to add to my own
  • Reusing glass bottles - for food storage, as reusable glasses/mugs, as vases or catch-alls
  • Switched from plastic food storage containers to glass
  • Switched kitty litter - Yesterday's News, The World's Best Cat Litter, Swheat Scoop
  • Eliminated plastic kitty litter liners
  • Bringing own bags to grocery store - one cloth, reusing whatever plastic ones left over
  • Reusing plastic grocery bags for smaller trash receptacles, car trash, kitty litter, etc.
  • Recycling plastic grocery/shopping bags at the store - Giant Eagle has bag recycling bins outside the entrance
  • Purchasing beverages in glass or aluminum whenever possible
  • Purchasing only locally brewed beer - Great Lakes Brewing Company does not use preservatives or artificial ingredients
A quick glance over this partial list reveals that there is yet much work to be done in the greening of my lifestyle - in a future post I will share my Green Changes To-Do List. But I'm pretty satisfied with the sheer number of changes I have been able to make. One of my major To-Do's is to reduce the number of products in my beauty regimen by at least half, and to find additional ways to multi-task products and/or purchase them in bulk quantities. (Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is my new favorite item - stay tuned for more about the magic soap!)

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