Wednesday, May 04, 2011

April Wrap Up

April was supposed to be Earth Month, and I suppose it kind of was, but it’s also the month in which I took two rather long airplane flights, which was not so earth friendly. We also rented a car while on vacation, oops, so maybe we just won’t count those six days I was in Puerto Rico. The rest of the month, however, was a great success, at least in the Be Kind To The Earth way.

For starters, I got serious about saving paper and canceled all the things that I receive in the mail. I called J Crew and Lands End and told them not to send me any more catalogs. I signed up with several different agencies so that I am taken off various mailing lists. I changed my account settings with Bank of America so that I no longer receive ANY pieces of paper from them, ever. I contacted both alumni offices (undergrad and grad) and nicely told them that I am never giving them any more money EVER so could they please stop sending me paper mailings asking for contributions? I called State Farm (I have renter’s insurance through them) and told them not to send me any more paper or I would switch companies. I’ve asked them once before not to send me stuff and I still get junk mail for car insurance (I don’t have a car) or homeowners insurance (I don’t own a home) so this time I told them I was serious. Stop or I will switch agencies. The guy on the phone promised they’d stop. We’ll see if they actually do or if I will be shopping around for a new insurance agency.

I set our thermostat even lower, which coincided with marginally warmer weather and a lower heating and electric bill. Hooray for earth-friendly options that are also money savers.

I also used the library even more, which I consider very earth (and pocketbook) friendly. I checked at the university library and they didn’t have any Lonely Planet books on Puerto Rico. This is the point in the process where I would usually just buy the book. Instead I trekked all the way to the Chicago Public Library and spent kind of a long time in the stacks, but came away with a Lonely Planet, TWO English/Spanish pocket dictionaries, and two fun nonfiction books to read while on vacation.

I also tried to do a few more small things. In the past few months, laziness has caught up with me and instead of bringing my own silverware from home, I usually just grab a plastic spoon or fork for eating my lunch. Something about digging a used spoon out of the bottom of my purse at the end of the day just isn’t terribly appealing. Because it was earth month, and it’s silly to use plastic from the office kitchen when I have perfectly good silverware that I can bring from home, I switched completely. In addition to my trusty water bottle I also brought a mug from home and reuse that for tea or hot chocolate while I’m at work. I started recycling all our mail that comes in. Some things need to be shredded instead of recycled, but their envelopes don’t! Stickies now go into the recycling, along with grocery lists and other random scraps of paper. Sounds silly but I suppose every bit counts, right?

The major thing that we did that was earth friendly was take an eco-tour while on vacation. I won’t go into details yet because that’s another post entirely, but it was very important to me that we use an eco-conscious company for this kind of tour. We did a lot of research beforehand and picked this specific one because of the excellent reviews and their focus on the environment and on low-impact tours. I’m happy to say they didn’t disappoint.

As far as reading classics, I am utterly failing on this one. I haven’t even been reading all that much because I’ve been so busy. I did manage to call my sister more, but called my Austin friends less. I blame that failure on the vacation.

May is supposed to be about being positive, which I am also kind of failing on. I’m still working out how to quantify that goal, but when I figure it out I’ll let you know.


Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

My office used to buy plastic utensils in large quantities. I worked with the partners to phase out the plastic we had and move to permanent silverware. Though some people grumbled (namely, the person responsible for unloading the dishwasher), I was happy to stop wasting so much. You do far more than me, but I like to think if we all make small steps, we could do so much good for the planet!

jessicabold said...

I am working on being more positive as well. It is a daily seems like I was built to be a pessimist...but I've got to change that! I'm determined! :) <-- that's me!