Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Green Guilt

Ever had it?  I got green guilt this morning because I had to drive to work.  I really really wanted to bike, but I have been training new staff all day and had a huge amount of material to take to the training venue and it just wasn't going to fit on a bike.  I also got a bit of green guilt last night when I went to a function 25km away, but we managed to minimise by carpooling - 5 of us in a vehicle is certainly less wasteful than meeting everyone there.

Mr Neats got green guilt last night when Mr 2 needed a bath (he's a bit difficult to wash properly in a shower), so his compromise was to join him in the bath - at least if it was going to be run then it was washing more than 1 person!

I think it's important to remember all the good decisions you make and not beat yourself up too much when you can't take the "greener" option.  As long as you're making a good effort and are aware of your impact on the environment, you're probably doing the best you can.  This week for me hasn't been about being "extreme green", but about making some important lifestyle changes that our family can maintain long-term.

Following my thoughts about excess packaging and buying less, last night Mr 2 and I made some muesli bars for our lunch boxes (well, OK, Mr 2 really just "mixed" messily and picked out the yummy bits to taste, but he did have fun).  We did this while Mr Neats was making dinner - then we were all in one room with only one set of lights on.

I mixed 1/2 cup of quick oats with 1/2 a cup of dried fruit, nuts and seeds (cranberries, sesame, pumpkin, cashews, almonds), then heated 1/2 a cup of honey and about 60g of butter on the stove (simmer until it thickens).  Mix the melted ingredients into the dry and then press into a tin or moulds and refrigerate.  The amount produced perfectly filled my Tupperware T-Bar moulds, but you could easily make it in a tray and slice it up.  Just make sure you simmer the honey and butter until it thickens - I was a bit impatient and didn't wait long enough, so my bars are a bit soft (but VERY yummy!).  We all have them in our lunchboxes today (in containers, not wrap - remember we're a gladwrap free family) so I'll be interested to hear how Mr 2 and Mr Neats found theirs.

Mr Neats did some cleaning this morning with our homemade products, and they all worked really well.  I won't see him until tomorrow morning (late shift) so it'll be good to find out what he thought of them.  We have wooden floors in our house, so it's easy to sweep rather than vacuum (saving electricity) and only one rug in the lounge.  I have borrowed an old fashioned carpet sweeper to use on the rug and it brought make memories of my childhood - we had a bright orange one that our wee fox terrier used to hate!  As well as saving electricity, they're a great workout!

When cleaning we also use rags instead of paper towels to reduce waste, and buckets to rinse in rather than running the tap.  Tipping the used water out on the garden prevents it going into the wastewater system and soil is a fabulous natural filtration system - that's how septic tanks work!

We also always wash our cars on the grass - washwater entering the stormwater system off our driveways goes untreated straight into the nearest stream, along with all the dirt, soap and contaminants, but that soil filtration takes care of all those pollutants before the water reaches the underground aquifers.  Actually, that's a wee bit of a lie.  Usually we just don't wash our cars, but when we do it's definitely on the grass.

Tomorrow is the last day of our challenge, and it's gone really quickly.  Too quickly for me to try all of the new things on my green list!  But I'm going to carry on well after this wee adventure is over, whether we win a heatpump or not, and meanwhile we have tomorrow to make the most of!

Today's hints:
Bake for lunches and don't use gladwrap!  Reusable, recyclable containers all the way.
Carpool, bus - there are options other than biking or walking if the weather or distance precludes it.
Where you can't eliminate impact, minimise it - make the most of resources you do have to use - share baths.
Only rain down that stormwater drain - keep pollutants out of outside drains.
Don't beat yourself up when you can't be as "green" as you would like - do the best you can for your situation and we'll all be a lot better off.

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