In April, I set three Earth Day Eco-resolutions. I am proud to say, that I have accomplished two of the three goals: stop using single-use plastic produce and shopping bags; stop my junk mail. But I still haven't accomplished the first goal: make my own yogurt. The Green Moms are setting some half-yearly resolutions, just in time for summer, when the weather is wonderful and everything seems possible. So making my own yogurt is at the top of my list now. I also came up with nine more resolutions for 2011. As you can see, I like to stick with small, doable goals, rather than grandiose visions of all that could be. If I even accomplish half of these, I will consider this exercise a major success.
For many of these goals, I could use a little advice or guidance (see the questions at the end of each goal). Please add your wisdom in the comments!
1. Make my own yogurt.
We have been going through a lot of yogurt lately. Sometimes two or more 4-cup containers in a single week (at least I never buy individually-sized portions, right?). Although I can recycle my containers with Terracycle, I would rather side-step the plastic packaging all together. My yogurt-making friends tell me I can also use the whey (from straining the yogurt to make it thicker) instead of buttermilk. I go through a lot of buttermilk to make pancakes, and the containers have to be thrown away. If I make yogurt using my Straus milk (bottled in reusable glass containers), my yogurt (and buttermilk-replacement) would generate virtually no plastic packaging. What is your favorite method for making yogurt?
2. Plant something.
I have a dream of a large kitchen garden that provides delicious organic produce my kids are dying to eat and saves me oodles of money (and food miles). But it's just daunting to get started. I may have missed the boat this season, but I want to at least get the ball rolling by planting something. . . anything. I think I should try a potted tomato plant or mini herb garden. That seems doable, right?
3. Buy houseplants.
Houseplants help purify your air, and are also a great way to bring a little bit of nature into your house. Buying houseplants has been on my to do list for about 3 years. Let's see if this resolution helps me acquire a few before the end of the year. What is your favorite hard-to-kill houseplant?
4. Take my children outside every single day.
Regardless of the weather. Walking to the car in the driveway does not count. How do you incorporate a "green hour" (or "green 5 minutes") into your daily routine?
5. Learn the names of some of the local flora.
Maybe I'll get a book on trees. The only local plant I can currently identify is rosemary. And maybe a cherry tree, if it has cherries on it. What are your favorite resources for learning about your local ecosystem?
6. Hang a bird feeder.
I'm still kind of sad that the owner of our home won't allow us to have a dog (or probably any other animal with fur for that matter). Recently we noticed a birds' nest in the vines growing over the little trellis on our patio. My kids get so excited when they see any wildlife (including snails). I remember having a backyard bird feeder as a kid and trying to identify the bird species using a field guide to birds. So fun. Any advice from seasoned bird feeder users?
7. Learn more about composting.
I could have put just "start composting," but I like to set myself up for success. I have a good friend who composts both with and without worms in very inexpensive/ free containers. Although she's always trying to convince me how uber-easy it is, I still think it's not easy enough for me. So I want to look into the different types of containers: how easy they are to use, how much they cost, and so on. Maybe check out the Craig's List listings for any available locally for super cheap. If you compost, what do you use?
8. Take my children to a natural place once a month.
Natural places would include beaches, state and national parks, anything wild. This is entirely doable where I live. If nothing else, we could just hike in the nearby county park once a month. But these outings usually do require more planning and effort than walking to the neighborhood park, so I need to psyche myself up for them. What is your favorite wild place to visit with your children?
9. Try a shampoo bar.
I would actually like to try the vinegar rinse thing, but the shampoo bar seems like something I am more likely to actually get around to trying in the next few months. I would love to reduce the amount of plastic from my hair care routine. I would also like you to know that I typically wash my hair about once a week, but lately I have gone as long as two weeks without horrific results. Believe me, my husband would tell me if my hair smelled or looked gross. I tell you this so that you might consider washing your hair a little less often. It's a great way to reduce your consumption of shampoo, conditioner, plastic packaging and water. I suppose it should also be noted that I don't try to look wonderful that often (I'm a SAHM and rarely feel the need to impress anyone). Do you have a favorite shampoo bar?
10. Limit my screen time.
My blog is a little over a year old, and I have been tempted to delete it more than once. I like being part of the green community and sharing ideas on the web, but I find the Internet to be a major, MAJOR time-suck. Recently my Internet connection was down for more than a full day, and it ended up being such a wonderful day, especially because I was much more present for my kids, that it made me really think about my computer use. I want to check my email no more than 3 times a day, budget my blog time so that I only work on posts a few times a week at scheduled times, and practice an Internet fast once every week or two. Have you managed to find that elusive happy medium with respect to the Internet? How did you do it?
Please share your advice and own green goals in the comments! Feel free to include links to relevant resources such as a post on your blog.
Photo credit: TooFarNorth