My Earth Day 2015 review

I would like to think that I live my life as though every day were Earth Day.  I’ve posted before about the daily products I use to reduce my carbon footprint, but I think it’s time to do my yearly review to evaluate what I’m doing, and where I can improve.

This year marks 8 years since I gave up my car.  When I had a car, I would still take public transit to work, since finding parking on campus can be very difficult.  I used the car on weekends.  I found this practice to be too wasteful, so once my car lease expired, I decided to simply go without a car.  I used to buy a monthly bus pass, but for the past two years, my employer has provided me with a yearly pass at a reduced rate of 20%.  Transit passes are tax deductable, too.  I don’t miss owning a car.  Buses get me around easily, and I like to walk.  When I need a car, for example to go to the airport, or to buy larger items, I rent one from my local car rental company (I get a special university discount).  I don’t miss the insurance and car payments, and certainly not the fuelling costs.

I make a lot of my own products, using earth-friendly ingredients, namely:

  • Face toner
  • Leave-in hair conditioner
  • Hand soap
  • Dish soap
  • Laundry soap
  • Dusting spray
  • Deodorant
  • Body powder
  • Milk bath (soy based)
  • Floor cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Hand cream
  • Sugar scrub
  • Air freshener

Cleaning: I use microfibre mops to sweep the floors and dust the furniture.  A broom works wonders, as well.  I use a vacuum cleaner only every two weeks to clean the stairs, which are carpeted, but otherwise simply sweep the wood, cork, and porcelain floors. I use a wet microfibre mop to clean the floors, as well as a steam mop with a reusable microfibre head. As listed above, I make my own cleaning products. I have a sonic essential oil diffuser that helps keep the air fresh, which is important when you live with two cats.

Cooking and dining: I use linen or cotton napkins. I buy organic products whenever I can. For cooking, I use stainless steel or ceramic pots and pans, with the exception of one non-stick pan I use for sauteeing tofu, which tends to stick to all surfaces, and has ruined a few stainless and ceramic saucepans.  I make my own dish soap.  I run my dishwasher only once a month, as I prefer to hand wash my dishes.  I make my own dish washing soap as well, and use white vinegar as a rinse agent. I have not used paper towels for years; instead, I use microfibre cleaning cloths, which can be washed very easily.I have a counter top water filtration system.

Bathroom and laundry: I use cotton eye-make up remover pads and hemp face cloths. My towel, sheets, and duvet cover are made from bamboo fibres. I air dry my laundry, with the exception of sheets and towels.  I hand wash many of my clothes.  I use vinegar in the laundry in lieu of fabric softener, and use laundry balls in the dryer. I use a fabric shower liner. I have a shower head filter to reduce chlorine in the bath and shower.

Cats:  Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about the waste generated by cats.  I use clay-based litter.  There is another product, which I like very much, which is made from wheat husks, but it’s very expensive, and with two cats, does not last too long.  I use biodegradable dog poop bags to collect the waste.  Baking soda keeps the litter box fresh.

Shopping and travel: I carry a thermal travel mug with me, as well as a micro cutlery set (spoon, knife, fork, and steel straw), so that I don’t need to use disposable cutlery if I order something to go. I always carry foldable shopping bags with me, as well as larger cotton bags for going to the market and grocery store.  I buy local products as much as possible from local businesses, including food, pet food and supplies, clothes, housewares, and so forth.  I declutter my home twice a year, but I’m still too fond of buying items I don’t always need.  Handbags, jewellery, boots, and coats are my weakest areas. I am trying to use the capsule wardrobe approach, but I am nowhere near where I could be, so this is definitely a work in progress.

Not perfect yet, but I think I’m making a good effort.  I’ll continue to look for more ways in which I can live in a more sustainable way.

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