Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Goes Around....

God always has a way of knocking me right off my high horse.
Today it came at about 2:30 in the form of a railcar full of, yep, recycled paper.
On fire.
60 bales at about 2000 pounds a piece. Soaking wet, partially burned, pulled out of the box car and carted off to the landfill. With my help, of course. I know that was my junk mail in there!
God's way of telling me to lay off about the thermostat. That or someone had a cigarette.
And to make it EVEN sweeter. We weren't sure the bay door closed when we left, so I was imagining heating all of western Wyandotte county. Set at....80 degrees! For 2 hours.
And it was too late to start our baked chicken for dinner so we headed to our favorite takeout I-Hot (get it...mexican restaurant in an old I-Hop...I-Hot).
My food came in STYROFOAM!!!!!
So I'm pulling my sweatpants off the clothes line, putting them in the dryer until they are dry and nice and warm, putting them on and crawling into my bunk. Don't call 911 in my territory until tomorrow at 8am...I'm done.

Warning...There May Be A Bit Of Bored Blogging Ahead

I don't need a nap, I've finished my book, there are some other rowing things I could be attending to but frankly I'm just not interested.

I'm bored.

You know, 'greening' up my life has really been pretty easy. There isn't anything at home that I'm struggling with. I don't miss the dryer. I like the way my clothes smell when they are dried on the line (even in the basement). Recycling has been pretty easy. The drop off place is close and I've almost got all of the cardboard out of the basement. This new awareness has sparked cleaning and organization like you wouldn't believe! Being more conscious of my driving habits has resulted in more time at home which has allowed me to read more...not to mention the great napping!

Life at the fire station...well, that is another world all together.

Both the rig and the ambulance were crazy dirty this morning and needed to be washed. The spray nozzel for the hose leaks so bad that you can't use it with out getting soaked. This means the hose runs most of the time we are washing the rig...makes me crazy but I can't figure a real way around it short of talking one of the guys into standing in the back of the bay, turning it on and off for us. (not gonna happen!)

The apparatus bay is the big garage where we park the rigs. Why it needs a big industrial heater is beyond me and why, in God's name, why are firefighters given access to the thermostat?? It should be set at a temp that will allow the rigs to start, the water in the pump not to freeze and to keep the back of the ambulance at a temperature that allows it to be warmed quickly for a patient...I think 60 degrees is plenty and I think we could do with 50 degrees.

I need to leave the bay thermostat alone or someone's gonna slug me...

Then there is the recycling issue. I try to get a hold of recyclable items before they are put in the trash. (I WILL NOT dig in the trash for stuff). In a few weeks, after the thermostat issue has died down I plan to quietly bring in a container for recyclables. My guys will probably use it with much eye rolling and humphing. But the other two shifts...forget it!

But I will press on....

And lastly I will answer a few of MUD's questions:

  • I believe it is better to eat what you buy. Buying what you don't need is the ultimate in wasteful consumerism.
  • The producer that maximizes his effort and minimizes his costs does a better job for his bottom line.
  • Yes, I paid $5.99 for two beautiful heirloom tomatoes. I will not eat the waxy winter tomatoes. These were 1-local, 2-fresh and 3-soooo yummy! I would imagine that this farmer does not have a large carbon footprint.
  • Oatmeal cookies are great if you use a lot of cinnamon, real butter, dark chocolate chips and don't over cook them. They should be soft.

and no, I don't even want to talk about don't even start.

(K-State played a very good game. There has been a lot of talk about Beasly being the only player they have. I disagree...)

Quick, Just Look Away

Really...just how warm does a parked fire truck need to be?? (parked inside!)

We are having a thermostat war.

They turn the heat in the apparatus bay up to 75 degrees and I turn it down to 60 degrees. We might have an average temp out there about 68.

I think I'm out numbered.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Quick Grocery Store Follow Up

The Organic peanut butter is good but it is not the sugary goodness of Jiff...not even close.

The heirloom tomatoes on the other hand are most fabulouso!

And the cookies still rock.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Miss My Creamy Jiff

I've been shopping closer to home in an effort to use less fuel. I like my regular grocery store much better and it seems that there are more 'green' options there. But it is quite a ways from my house. So the local grocery has been getting more of my business.

Today I shopped in the crazy snow. Nuts but I was already out and need to do some restocking. The cupboards were mighty bare.

I bought apples from Washington because I couldn't find any from anywhere when I went to look at pears...also from Washington...I bought some thinking, maybe, just maybe they all came on the same truck (smiles, knowing that she's full of s*%t).

I was hungry for some cookies and was not happy with the packaging of any of the cookie choices so I purchased oatmeal (in cardboard) and made my own cookies when I got home. I had everything else I needed and boy are they better than anything I can buy! (MUD, they are pretty close to Uncle Chuck's Chocolate Chip cookies).

I did purchase some hydroponic heirloom tomatoes grown here in Kansas. They are beautiful but $5.99 a pound!

The peanut butter options had me very disappointed. My favorite Creamy Jiff only comes in plastic as do really all the other major brands. I purchased an organic peanut butter for $3.99 when my Jiff was on sale for $1.89.

I'd like to explore some fair trade coffee. But I ended up with a local coffee (Roasterie) which I like but is probably responsible for the death of the song birds. At least it's local company. (this paragraph has been edited for errors, thanks GB)

I did forget my bags so I chose paper and it was interesting watching the checker as she tried to keep my dirty potatoes from touching my Washington apples and then having to remind the sacker that I didn't need the veggies in a plastic bag...crazy!

I bought less than normal to keep from wasting things I buy but don't get around to eating but I spent a bit more because the greener options are often more expensive. I hope it will maybe all even out.

Friday, January 25, 2008

DIsh Towels, Doggie Blood and Going Green

I'm going green. Yeah, yeah...I know, you know. But sometimes this has created funny moments.
I've been paying attention to the laundry I create.
I can wear a pair of jeans three times on average unless I'm doing something really grungy. I can sleep in PJ's (and I sleep in PJ's cause I'm freezing my buns off ) at least 2 nights, etc, etc.
I have tried not to wash so many dish towels. If I'm cleaning or dealing with something yucky I try to contain it to only one towel. I use another to wipe up water, dry my hands, dry dishes, etc. Hanging it to dry in between.
I'm also bringing dish towels to the station to cut down on our use of paper towels. The guys are really good sports.
Steve washed his hands in the kitchen while I was making some yummy pizzas for dinner. He asked if I had a towel for him to dry his hands. I handed him one and he looked at me quizzically.
"Is this blood?" He asked, showing me a brownish stain on the towel.
"Don't think so." I replied.
"Looks like blood to me.' This paramedic with 32 years of experience said.
Then it dawned on me. This weekend, my lovies weren't so lovie with each other leaving Maggie with a good cut on her face. I held some pressure on it to control a small bit of bleeding. With a old kitchen towel. The same old kitchen towels I usually bring to the station.
I'm guessing that it was on the table and didn't look dirty so I tossed it back in the towel basket.
I guess that is maybe something I need to pay closer attention to......
(Maggie is fine by the way. Just another scar to solidify her junkyard dog mystic)
(Steve is fine too)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Didn't Work

I cleaned the garage. It was 10 degrees out.

(I did finish my book before the crazy cleaning bug took hold of me yet again)

Internal Negotiations

Did I do enough yesterday to deserve to lie on the futon reading this afternoon?

Do you do this to yourself? Geesh, I sure do.

Seems I hold myself to such higher standards (I guess that's okay). I had to mentally make a list of all the productive things I've done in the last 24 hours.

  1. Laundry.
  2. Swept and mopped.
  3. Blogged (I did that yesterday didn't I?)
  4. Lunched with the Petty girls and had meaningful conversation.
  5. Hung shelves in the kitchen.
  6. Picked up the library book that had been waiting for me.
  7. Dropped an entire carload full of stuff at the salvation army.
  8. Watched American Idol, SuperNanny and Project Runway.
  9. Began cleaning out the freezer.
  10. Took an entire carload of recycling to the recycling center.

Why, oh why, do I feel guilty about staying on the futon under many blankets on a 10 degree day....screw it...I'll be on the futon if anyone needs me. Guilt free!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Rethink is least by now, I sure hope so.
I freakin think about EVERYTHING!! (except that styrofoam cup of coffee I had this morning after a itty bitty house fire at 6am)

Reduce is next. Reduce what we purchase, reduce what we throw away, reduce how much food we prepare (which often gets thrown away), reduce how much we rely on the car for our transportation (or at least be more mindful of our travels). Below is my trash for 1 whole week! (prior to the manic basement cleaning)

Reuse creates opportunity for creativity. I am now using my paper towel holder to dry ziplock bags. (yes, I have become the crazy lady who washes plastic bags...I have not, however, began reusing tinfoil...there are limits)

Recycle well...duh. If you haven't got that yet, you've not been paying attention!

(and just a ps...there is a water main break on my street so my water is turned off and now the gas company is here to replace my gas meter and they will be turning my gas off...I'm almost living utility free right now!!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Things I Cannot Change

Oye...ambulances are NOT very green...I have to just look away.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy MLK Day

Okay, I get why this holiday is important. I admire MLK and all that he did for all of us. I do, really.

But right now I'm mostly just annoyed.

See, in the world of the BIG RED TRUCKS we don't get regular holidays like so many of you. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I get more time off than most unemployed people I know. It does not suck!

So that makes this day pretty much like any other.

No trash pickup.
The recycling center is closed.
The Salvation Army is closed.
The library is closed.
The bank is closed.

I spent all day yesterday (and I mean ALL DAY) cleaning the basement. I have piles of stuff to got to the recycling center. I have several boxes for the Salvation Army. I have created twice as much trash in one day as I have in the last two weeks. But it will all have to wait.

So...I thought to myself..."self, why don't you go to the library and pick up that book you requested that is waiting to be picked up. You can spend the day on the futon reading".

But, no...dang library is closed.

And the bank. Which was something else I need to do.

So I'm just annoyed.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Breaking The Light Switch Habit

Do you turn on the light every time you enter a room? Even during the day? Even when it's perfectly lit with natural light from the windows?
There are lights in my house that I've not turned on in over 2 weeks. Yet today I turned the kitchen light on 8 times with out thinking about it. Every time I'd catch myself and turn it off, continue with what I was doing and then...all of a sudden the light was back on. I know I don't have a ghost so I know I was turning it on, without any conscious thought.
How many other things do we do without thinking that are wasteful and/or bad for us or the earth.
Do you idle your car at the bank?
If the shower is too hot do you turn the hot water down or the cold water up?
Do you let the dryer continue to run on that 'wrinkle free' setting while listening to it buzz?
Do you leave the frig door open while you pour a glass of milk?
Do you buy your CFL bulbs in the bad for the environment plastic clamshell packaging?
Do you put plastic wrap over things you're putting in the frig instead of using recyclable tinfoil?
Do you drive around in a parking lot looking for the 'best' spot instead of taking the first one you see and maybe walking a bit?
All of these are things I've done and things I'm working to change.
What are some things you do without thinking that you'd like to change?
You save those whales.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let's Talk About Bags

Everywhere you look a different store is offering it's own reusable shopping bags. In some cases it's just an advertising scheme...hey, look at us we care about the go buy some of those yummy artichokes from Peru. Some are actually very inexpensive bags often made from...recycled water bottles or something. These are usually about $1.00 and are offered in many areas of the store.
A local grocery store has a nice green (color not statement) bag for $4.99. And you get a whole $.05 discount when you remember to bring it with you. I think that is too much to spend on a bag and I'm not sure they really 'get' the idea.
I bought some nice bags at a specialty grocery (think Whole Foods but smaller and more expensive) near my house for $2.99. I think these will be the bags I take on non grocery trips. They are a solid color with a catchy logo on the front.
I also purchased some produce bags that I think maybe I can do with out. Is it really a big deal if my apple touches my potatoes which are touching my Triscuits....I mean, really.... These are in my grocery bags but I find that they are kinda cumbersome. You put the produce in the bag, then you take it out so it can be weighed and rung up, them back in the bag...see, too much trouble. Just put the apple in the big bag.
The bags I like the best are the very colorful bags I bought at Whole Foods for $.99. They are big enough to hold several plastic bags worth of groceries and sturdy enough to carry without worry that they will break. They stand up on their own which alleviates my big pet peeve....plastic bags that slouch and all your stuff falls out either on the car floor or on the counter when you get home.
Apparently Walmart has bags now. Also $.99. They look nice and are cheap. I'm not sure how I feel about Walmart. I think they may be hurting the small business and they probably have company policies that I really hate but I'm not quite ready to jump on the 'I Hate Walmart Bandwagon'. They are a great place to get staples and they are the only place in town I can get Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch.
Make sure you keep the bags in your car. It doesn't help you if the bags are home in the closet when you go to the store.
So I guess what I'm saying is give the reusable bag thing a try. It's fun to see the confused look on the sackers's face and you might save $.10 and maybe a whale.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

So, How Am I Doing??

Well there are two ways to answer that question.

Green is kinda fun. Green is much harder than I thought.

Here is a small list of my current 'green' thoughts.

  1. Recycling is going to be easier than I thought. The recycle place is on my way home from work and it just takes me a few minutes to put the stuff in the car when I leave for work and stop on my way home the next morning. The sorting and storage at home seem to be working as well. I am floored by the amount of paperboard (cereal boxes and the like) and paper I generate. The next step is to see if I can drastically cut the amount of crap that comes in the mail.
  2. Not purchasing non recyclable items is (excuse the french) a real bitch! Hanging out with Austin and Andrew seems to be the biggest challenge. Andrew knows I'm an easy mark and always needs a snack.
  3. I still don't get the whole 'only #1 and #2 plastic with a neck'. What is that all about...

  4. Cutting my energy and water use has so far been fun. Trying to see how long each day I can go with out turning on a light, using water I boiled potatoes in to water the plants. planning a clothesline for the back yard and hanging laundry in the basement (I already had this system set up from when my dryer died).

  5. There are paper towel issues at the station. I can't seem to figure out how to clean the bathroom here without paper towels. At home I use Clorox wipes (I know but I'm NOT giving them up). The guys are so's an issue.

  6. I love taking my grocery bags to the store...and watching Steve carry them back to the fire truck!
  7. This little project of mine has generated so many great conversations with my friends and families. Many already do a lot...some are doing more.
  8. I'm anxious for Farmer's Market season. I'd really like to explore eating local. I have been making my purchases at the grocery with more thought to 'where' my food is coming from.
  9. Not only have I not added any more crap to my overstuffed house, I have made one trip to the goodwill and have another pile ready to go tomorrow.

And on another note it's getting close to rowing season....just a little over 4 weeks until the kids start back for the spring!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Andrew vs The Enviornment Part 2

I was on the phone with Kimmy last night while she was putting Andrew to bed.

He's a chatty little guy and I heard him say "We need to see Cousin Stephen all the time. I can talk to him about recycling.

Maybe it's like a carbon offset. I buy him the chocolate doughnut in the plastic bag and he talks to other little kids about recycling....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Keeping Me Honest

I thought it might be helpful, for me and maybe for some of you, if I talked about and tracked some of my energy usage.
I plan to put a link on the side to track my electric, natural gas, water and fuel consumption.
The electric and water will be easy. The billing date was January 8 so I hope to see some changes in my next bill.
Last month I used 420 KWH (electricity) and 3 CCF (water).
Now before anyone freaks it was Christmas and there was the tree and some outdoor lights and it's an old house and I was a complete energy hog.
I'm doing better now. I expect to see a drop for my January bill.
How many KWHs did you guys use in December?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Check Out My Favorite Green Blogs

I've added a link on the side of my favorite blogs.

Look around a little. But be can make you crazy.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Andrew vs The Environment

Andrew and I spend a lot of time together and I thought why not involve him in some of my new 'green' activities. It's important to teach him about the environment and set a good example.

We've talked about why we won't go to McDonald's (we'll bring snacks in the car). About why it's important to turn the water off when you are brushing your teeth. I remind him to turn lights off when he leaves a room. We even have reusable cups in the car now for soda stops.

Today he helped me with the recycling. We gathered it from around the house. Talked about the difference between paperboard and cardboard. He read the number on the bottom of the plastic so we were sure we only took the right kind. He helped me put all the items in their correct bin at the recycling center.

On our way home from Lawrence this afternoon, where we freecycled a cartop carrier and lunched with my Mom using cloth napkins brought from home and our reusable cups, he fell asleep. Not wanting to wake him up and hoping he'd get a small nap I drove around for 45 minutes. Polluting the environment.

So far it's a draw.

What's A Girl To Do??

Have any of you purchased those little 100 calorie packs of...well, just about everything. I have.

For me they are nothing but a convenience, I'll admit. Nice for taking my lunch to work, carrying in my purse or the car.

I know, I know. They are more expensive and create a great deal of packaging waste per item.

So here is my dilemma.

I can't buy the individual packages of Cheezits because they create too much packaging waste.

I can't use ziplock bags to portion out the big boxes because ziplock bags are evil.

Little plastic containers are...well...plastic.

If I buy a big box I rarely finish it before they are stale. Thus creating waste when I toss uneaten food.

Do I have to give up cheezits to save the planet?

Where will the madness end!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Saving The World One Fire Truck At A Time

Today, instead of letting our rig idle while we shopped for tonight's dinner, I turned it off.

Now...normally my captain doesn't come into the grocery store with us. He waits in the truck. The running truck. When I turned it off he looked at me and I cheerfully said "Saving the world one fire truck at a time."

Then I hopped down and headed into the store, canvas grocery bags in hand.

He thinks I'm nuts.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Going Green Day 5

I've found some great blogs and websites (I'll be linking these soon) and done probably too much reading. All of this information is making my head spin!

I took dish towels and cloth napkins to the station on Monday and we used very few paper towels. I didn't use any and the guys were good sports but I'm sure they think I'm crazy.

Dinner at a friend's house on Sunday night had me drinking out of a plastic cup and it bugged me. I don't want to be one of those people who annoys everyone but I can't get it out of my mind.

I've only filled 1/4 of a trash bag this week. Interesting...

It will be interesting to see how my energy use changes. I'll track my bills and keep you posted.

How many times can you wear a pair of jeans before you wash them? Unless they have actual dirt on them or smell...I'm on day 3. Bonus-they are comfortably stretched out.

This morning before I had any coffee I left the kitchen with the lights on and the TV on AND put a yogurt cup in the trash not the recycling. Horror! (Just kidding) But it does illustrate how difficult it is to change behavior.

I have discovered that at night I will need to leave a few well placed lights on so I don't break my neck walking around in a pitch dark house. Or get a good flashlight!

What are you doing that is 'Green'?

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Green Plan-Step One

So this resolution to go green(er) is in full swing.

This weekend I did a lot of reading and established my home recycling project.

My house is small and space is limited but I was able to carve out some space under the sink for two containers (already had them...they are cat litter containers...environmentally friendly cat litter is on the list) and a space in the garage for an unused laundry basket to serve as a cardboard keeper. I will also be adding a box upstairs in the office to catch all the paper to recycle.
I had no idea that schools get money for recyclable paper they collect in the recycle containers. And that one of those is at the school right across the street from my house!

Did you know that landfills are air sealed and that even produce does not decompose as there is no air flow? Yuck! The answer is a compost but I'm not quite ready to go there yet. What I will do is try not to waste food. Prepare only what I'll eat. Not buy more than I can consume before it goes bad, etc.
The one thing I'm struggling with today is my crazy ziplock bag habit. Not sure how to address that but I will at least reuse them as I wean myself off and begin to use other environmentally friendly storage items.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Going Green

1. No more paper towels. Or paper napkins. I have dish towels and cloth napkins.

2. Lights off unless needed. Same with the water when brushing my teeth, washing dishes and the big one...washing my fire truck.

3. Replace all light bulbs with those weird looking ones.

4. Begin to recycle. This one is going to take a little work. We don't yet have curbside recycling and I need to create a space in the garage to put recyclables. If you've been to my house you know that space is at a premium. And the recyclables will need to be out of dog's reach.

5. No more bottled water. I have a water bottle. And I'm going to try to wean the rowing club off as well.

6. I will ride my bike to work at least once when the weather gets warmer. If it's workable to ride regularly I will do so.

7. I will do my best to be aware of and try to buy local and/or organic. But not to the point it gets nutty. When I have the option and it's not a huge cost.

8. I will unplug things that don't need to be plugged in all the time.

9. I will not shop for unneeded crap. See
A Year Off. She inspires me!

10. I will carpool with my sister to Lawrence even when it means driving to her house and adding 20 minutes to my trip.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Feliz Ano Nuevo!!

And Happy New Year, Too.