Since yesterday was Earth Day, I've been thinking about the changes that I've been making that are resulting in a greener me.
I don't know where it started. There are probably two points in my life where I can say, "my greener journey started here." First, moving to Germany changed a lot of my thoughts on being green. I'm definitely not a hardcore Green Party member, like the ones they have here, and I often think I would describe myself as a light green, or a slightly soggy cereal, and not super crunchy. But, I've defnitely changed since living in Germany. We separate garbage a lot. We have paper garbage, glass garbage, recyclables, compost garbage, and the "leftover garbage." When I go back home, I often ask how to dispose of egg shells or the cardboard that doesn't go in the recycling bin. We use energy efficient appliances. We built a well insulated house, with a very efficient heating system. Joern and I drive an alternative fuel car and we've become a one car family. I could go on and on about the greener changes in my life that resulted from moving to Germany.
But, I also realized that none of those changes were my decision. Many green acts are required here, you must separate your garbage and you must build a house to high energy standards. Other changes are out of necessity, like my car that I could not afford to drive here with traditional gasoline.
The other greener changes in my life are smaller than those necessary changes, but they were changes that were my decision. This conscious step towards being green probably started with Ryan's move to cloth diapers. I have to admit, I didn't start with cloth for green reasons. I started using cloth diapers because we had fit problems with disposables and because the ones that fit smelled really bad. Once I started using cloth diapers though, I realized that I do like the idea of reducing waste and I really like the idea of not having so many chemicals against Ryan's skin constantly. And the longer I've been using cloth diapers, the more often I've been thinking of waste.
I decided to reduce my use of paper towels, because I'm a paper towel addict. I use them for everything! I now try my hardest to grab for a dish cloth instead of a paper towel, and I bought a set of unpaper towels from Joyful Girl Design on Etsy. I love them! I think that for me, they work so well because I put them right where my paper towels used to live, on my paper towel holder, which happens to be in a super handy spot.
We're also reducing our plastic shopping bag useage. Although we have to pay for plastic bags here, it isn't enough of a charge to deter us from using plastic shopping bags. But, I do realize they are wasteful and unnecessary. We try our hardest now to remember to put our various shopping bags and totes in the car when we head out to the store. My favorite of all my items is my Large Utility Tote from Thirty-One Gifts. It fits a ton of food in it, and it fits across a shopping cart perfectly, so you can throw all your stuff in it in the cart, unload to pay, and reload when you leave.
From here, I'm getting ready to make the move to cloth napkins and reusable produce bags.
Another greener move is to try to buy as much locally produced food as possible. Its not easy to buy local here in the winter, but we do have a farmstand here in our town that works with other European farms that use their standards of food production. Buying locally isn't only a green act because it saves on transportation and ensures that the fruit and vegetables are truly organic, but its also fair, because local, small farmers are more and more often being pushed out by larger farms here.
In the end, my steps toward being greener are really small steps, but they're all doable. And every little bit helps!