Category Archives: Reduce

Taking Action

Enviro tools of the trade

Today is Blog Action Day where bloggers around the world are encouraged to post about the environment — one of my favorite topics to discuss. There are many ways I’ve modified my behavior in the last few years to be more green — like bringing my own grocery sacks to the store and my own cup to the coffee shop — and a few other changes I’ve only recently noticed that could be considered environmental.
Yesterday I met some friends for breakfast at a bagel shop 20 miles from my house. By riding my bike, I saved a gallon of gas round trip. I washed my car yesterday at the $.25 coin operated spot and literally ran like mad to make it happen within the initial 4-minute $1.25 time slot. I am also trying to consume and eat less, recognizing every little bit adds up.
Ultimately, what I think we need to remember is that we cannot shop ourselves green with new light bulbs or hybrid cars. We cannot eat ourselves thin with 100-calorie packs of crackers. We cannot pull ourselves out of financial ruin by shopping sales that “save.” Nice marketing ploys! If we make these choices because they fit in our budgeting, nutrition, environmental plans — that is another story. Simply, I think we can focus on using less and walking more — those two things alone will make us all healthier.
Crafting, the do-it-yourself movement, cooking at home and gardening are forms of domestic sustainability that work toward these two goals. One day, I will grow much of my own food, live on solar power, trade my car in for a mountain bike and live with the seasons.


Green Week Day 5: A Promise

Falling in love with Mama Earth

Dear Mama Earth,
I know I’m one of the 6 billion humans you are trying to support on limited resources at the moment, and I also know I’m not any more deserving of your attention than the rest. But if I could just get your ear for a second, I’d appreciate it.
Here’s the thing — I live in the country that consumes the most, with the least thought. However! We once were great stewards of the land and we can be again. We are getting much smarter about this, even if we were the last to RSVP to the Kyoto party. I’m certain our next president will make sure we show up early to such affairs in the future. With an appetizer.
I’m sorry I haven’t been more mindful of you. I’m sorry I’ve neglected to recycle at every opportunity and that I’ve consumed out of boredom and not need. I’m sorry that I haven’t done more to change policies to be kinder to you, and in turn, my neighbors.
So, here’s my vow to you, Mama Earth:
{Raise your left hand and say it with me!}

As your friend, I promise to consume (eat, drive, etc…) only when necessary. I promise to stop and actually smell the roses, notice the sunrise and be thankful for all of the natural beauty that surrounds my daily routine. I promise to vote for leaders who are thoughtful of you. I promise to shop locally and support small business. I promise to plant indigenous species. I promise to go to the pound when I want a pet and not a designer puppy warehouse. I promise to always work for peace first. I promise to use what I have, be thrifty, walk whenever possible, and scream from the mountaintops that we can change the tide. I promise to tread as lightly as possible.

Thank you Mama Earth, for your abundance and patience. I don’t want to see other people; I’m thoroughly in love with you.


Green Week Day 4: A Little Help From My Friends


Today, a shout out to all the green inspiration I’ve seen sprouting up this week.
Sharon and her kindergarten students in Texas are taking recycling to a new level.
Keesha has overhauled her daily routine to cut out the crap.
Carrie is cleaning house and demonstrating the power of composting.
Rachael reminds us all of the old camping rule that makes such sense at home too — mellow yellow.
And June, oh June. She who regularly inspires me artistically shares her recipes and motivation for cutting out chemicals and making her own environmentally friendly cleaning products. Yeow!
Bravo ladies!

These are just a few of the many great ideas you’ve shared this week. Thank you so much for pushing me to be better! Speaking of, today I’m telecommuting. Tomorrow? The bus. Wish me luck!


Green Week Day 3: Using Less

Miss Frida

Who wants a fabulous new market bag? Apparently throngs on the East Coast do. I’d love one of those, but my Frida bag fits the bill. Not only does this bag keep me from bringing home a ton of plastic ones, but I know that when it is full — it is time to leave the market. If I buy more than one bag, I end up throwing out produce at the end of the week because I couldn’t get to everything in time.
Frida and I have a weekly date at the market by my house. The clerks roll their eyes when they see me coming. Yet, more and more people are following the trend, so I guess they’ll just have to be more patient. This size reminds me to consume only what I must, which I think one of the most important principles of being good to the earth.

A few other photos from my home, simple ways I’m trying to use less:

unplugged in between

Appliances unplugged when not in use.

air drying

Drying my clothes on a clothing line and rack, rather than in a dryer. This has a double benefit this time of year because the dryer really heats up my laundry room. There might be a problem with my dryer. I don’t think it should be this hot. Perhaps I should contact a service provider who can do Dryer Repair and ask them to fix the issue. That way, it may also end up not consuming so much energy as it does now!

saving fuel

Thankfully, ceiling fans help keep my air conditioning bill manageable. The key is to use these only when you are home. More great tips here. But in case you do not have any ceiling fans, and keep your house ventilated/cooled through central or ductless air conditioning systems, then worry not. You can still do your part to reduce energy consumption. Make sure that your systems are well maintained and functioning at their most optimal, install temperature regulators so you can up or down the temp as you need; all this with help from trusted heating and cooling companies in Denver (or wherever you live) who may be able to guide you on what else can be done to optimize energy use, and be well on your way to making a difference!


I recycle everything I can.

nalgene to go

I always have one of these with me. If I am out and can refill one of these, rather than take a disposable cup, I do. Every bit helps. I think bottled water is pretty ridiculous; my parents own an RO water company and I’m spoiled with tasty tap water that’s been filtered. Tap water rocks.

What do you do to consume less?

Green Week Day 2: Using Less Water


Awesome shower timer shared in the Green Week photo pool.
Living in the desert, it is easy to use too much water. It shouldn’t be easy, but modern conveniences — such as air conditioning, swimming pools, an even landscaped yards — make water over-consumption the norm in Phoenix.
Your comments and ideas yesterday about using less paper were great. Collectively we know we aren’t going to change popular culture overnight. We also know that we are changing our behavior — the only thing we can control. Big change begins with small steps.
The small steps I’m making toward using less water are pretty darn basic. I wear a running watch all the time. I’m too lazy to have the battery in my dress watch replaced, so my Nike digital is permanently fixed to my left wrist. Not only does it clock my running times, but also my showering times. Four minutes or less is my goal, with the water turned off during non-crucial rinsing moments. I’ve lived without running water before; I also understand how easy it is to overlook this awesome household convenience when available. You’d think a girl who once hauled each drop of water she planned on using, by bucket, from a community well, over hilly terrain, wouldn’t need to wear a watch in the shower to be mindful about her water use. You’d be wrong.
Regardless, this week is about being more mindful and I’m working on it. Sounds like you are too! I’m also keeping a bucket in the shower to catch excess to feed my house plants. I’m not washing my car. I also recently helped campaign for my HOA to switch all communal areas in my community from sprinkler-fed grass to desert rock landscape.
Small victories! What are you doing to use less water?


Green Week Day 1: Using Less Paper

cutest recycler ever

How cute is this wee one, rocking the recycling? This photo is one of several already submitted to the Green Week photo pool, celebrating the best of reducing, reusing and recycling.

Today’s earth-friendly idea is using cloth instead of disposable anything. Such as cloth napkins, towels and of course, diapers. My friend Amanda emailed me a ton of stats on why it is important to use cloth. Did you know it takes 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose? In contrast, it takes just $17 in water during a child’s life to clean cloth diapers. No landfill waste, less diaper rash, and oh — you aren’t contributing to the 1 billion trees cut each year just for diapers. Yikes!

This week I’m sewing cloth napkins to use at home. I’m also whipping up some knit dishcloths. A few other simple paper-saving things I try to do include using junk mail envelopes for note paper, sharing magazines and books with friends, printing with the “selection only” feature to prevent pages of unwanted text when printing off the web, and reusing shipping boxes for mailing.
What can you do to use fewer paper products?


Green Week

Green Week!

I am so impressed with your ideas for treading a bit lighter on mama earth. Awesome! So, I got to thinking — how about we show each other how we incorporate these ideas into our everyday routine?
Next week will be Green Week around here. To participate, please photograph one of your green habits and throw the photo in this flickr group. I’ll share the photos along with conversation here and we’ll take a step toward doing something about slowing global warming, rather than just sitting around complaining about it. Hell to being helpless!
Sound good? Oh, and of course there will be eco-friendly prizes. I’m thinking sets of cloth napkins, market bags, Nalgene bottles, etc…


The Bare Minimum

Earthy market bags

Want to help the earth, but didn’t make it to the concerts this weekend? Can’t afford to purchase a Prius or are just too lazy to figure out the bus schedule? Good news: you can still help.

The very least we can all do is to stop using plastic grocery bags whenever possible. Carrying your own cup to the coffee shop, recycling clothing and other goods at thrift stores, buying locally, walking/carpooling/using public transport and consuming less by principle earn bonus points in my book.

When some friends asked if I’d mind sewing them some canvas market bags, I jumped at the chance. Sew for a good cause? Absolutely!


What is your favorite environmentally-friendly practice?


In Triplicate

Broken fixture

My shower faucet broke three weeks ago. The plastic handle cracked in two and eventually fell apart, leaving a steady trickle of water pooling in the tub. I didn’t want to think about calling my handyman, but I knew something had to be done. There would be the $65 an hour he charges, plus the parts and the time off of work to be home so he could come over to fix it. I tried ignoring it as long as I could, but each night I could hear the water drip, drip, dripping in the bathroom and it was slowly but surely driving me nuts. Plus, as a Phoenician who tries to tread lightly, the dripping sounded like drought, drought, drought, with the ocassional splash of waste, waste waste.
Coincidentally, I was cleaning out my wallet one morning last week when I found a Home Depot gift card I’d forgotten. “What the hell!” I thought. Off I went to the giant orange box with the broken part in hand and a nice pair of jeans firmly in place. I’m no fool. If there is ever a time to use your feminine charm and a good lip gloss — Home Depot’s the spot. Forget your pride temporarily, play dumb and ask lots of questions. Soon enough, you’ll have the part you need and some advice on how to install it. You can pick your independent spirit up at the door on your way out.

New $5 repair

For $5 (on the gift card no less) I got just that. And in a rare turn of home repair events around my house, I didn’t get in to a project way over my head. Viola — new faucet. Success!

crop of lemons

In other “use what you have” news, my neighbor’s lemon tree is dripping in golden fruit at the moment. They keep asking me to take as many as I’d like. I’ve been in their backyard a couple times with my basket and this weekend was no exception. I’m not sure where I read about this trick, but it’s worth repeating.

ready to be frozen

When you find yourself with a crop of citrus and don’t have an immediate need for the fruit, the juice freezes nicely in ice cube trays. When a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice — voila. Each cube is about two tablespoons.


I never thought I’d get plumbing and juicing in the same post, but this year continues to surprise.

eBay As A Form of Environmentalism

What is it about January that makes us all crazy about changing our lives? I jumped on the resolution train with a first-class ticket, so I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I even got on the scale at the gym this morning. And took a couple huge bags of clothing to Goodwill. I’m sorting, resolving and cleaning like a maniac with the best of you. But you know that one resolution I made? The one where I said I was going to use what I had more and buy less? Well, I’m making one caveat.
eBay doesn’t count.
I am officially ruling eBay (pretty much my second favorite store next to Tarjay) a form of social environmentalism. It’s somebody’s trash is another man’s treasure come to life. For example, this bag?
eBay makes saving money on great items like this so easy, and with coupons and discounts from Raise (check them out here –, you can save even more money on amazing items making it really easy to budget without having to sacrifice buying luxury items. It’s definitely worth making the switch if you’re looking to stretch your funds. Additionally, it is a great platform for sellers since it enables them to set up a virtual store easily. Furthermore, services such as the eBay fees calculator can help them track their return on investment. This makes sense why more and more sellers might be moving towards virtual stores.


Coming back to the bag, I really shouldn’t spend $100 on it. I don’t need it, but wow. The birds? The brown? I’m kind of in love. Even though I’ve got an REI gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I’m not buying this cutesty bird bag. I’m not. (The only thing girlier in the entire store? The pink Nalgene that’s currently sitting on my desk.)

But if I were to find one on eBay for a fraction of the price? Well, that’s just smart investing.