Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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Dawn
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Posted: April 21 2006 at 8:16am | IP Logged Quote Dawn

I thought with Earth Day tomorrow it might be nice to start a thread to discuss what environmentally-friendly choices we make (or hope to make) in our households.

Every year dh and I decide a new "resolution" for our family ~ two years ago it was switching to rechargable batteries, last year it was getting a rain barrel. We're still thinking about this year ...

Oftentimes environmentalism can come off as a "new age" concern, but I have been happy to read lately how the Catholic Church approves of and even promotes environmental stewardship; there was a great series of articles in this week's OSV about this topic. I found it enlightening (though sad) to consider that the poor are those who will - and do - suffer the most from the effects of global warming and other environmental maladies. I can't find a link to the articles online, but here's a great website for more on Catholic conservation.

One area I find challenging is the supermarket (I posted at my food blog this morning about that). If I could I would buy all organic across the board, but that is just not possible.

Anyone have thoughts, ideas, resources, etc.? Please share!

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 8:34am | IP Logged Quote Genevieve

I struggle with this all time. I think I swing from one extreme to the another. On one hand, I'm all about being a good stewart of the earth. On another, I just want to bury my head into the ground and pretend everything is alright. *laughs* But here are more concrete ideas of what we do.

1) Dh installed a sprinkler timer in our shower. Now all showers take 10 min max.

2) I try to recycle as much as possible especially cardboard boxes and glass bottles. Only problem is that the house doesn't look like it's professionally designed. I did solve that with paint and stencils. Also when I feel like purchasing a strictly decorating item, I try to make it instead. It slows down the process of accumulating too much stuff and then getting tired of it.

3) We just started a vegetable garden. We also try to visit the local farmer's market and have a more vegetable-based diet.

4) We hang dry all our clothes. When we used to live up north, we would hang our clothes near the heater/radiator. Clothes were dry within 4 hours.

5) Homemade cleaners

6) Try to get better quality stuff so you don't have to replace them often. Wood versus plastic toys.

7) Get our furniture second-hand. part of it is cheap but also less gets into the dump.



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Posted: April 21 2006 at 9:57am | IP Logged Quote Sarah

With a septic tank now (we've moved), I've started thinking more about what goes down the drain. . .

I'm going to try some safer cleaning products, although I don't know what yet.

I'm also going to get back to composting since I fell off track on that for a while.

I'm going to try to buy less plastic junk that breaks.

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 9:57am | IP Logged Quote Taffy

Wow Genevieve, what a great list!

So far, we are recycling as much as we can although I'm looking to do more. I hate throwing out cans and glass containers but can only keep so many kwim? The nearest recyling centre that will take them is over an hour's drive but I should get organized enough to take stuff there...

I've been wanting to put up a clothesline for quite some time now, maybe this is the kick in the pants that I need?

I don't think that I'd do well with a 10-minute time limit for showers though!

This is a good question Dawn! I'll be mulling this over for the next few days...


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Posted: April 21 2006 at 10:14am | IP Logged Quote Elizabeth

Sigh...we do organic food, as much as is available. I particpate in two different co-ops and frequent Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. As LIssa put it elsewhere, when you've lived through cancer, you get a little particular about some things.
But I fall woefully short on the other things on your lists. I haven't had a good garden since we moved four years ago--not exactly sure why: light, soil, water?? Some issue or combination of issues keep contriving against us. Ds 13 and I are going to really work on this one.
Our homeowner's covenants prohibit clotheslines but I think I'm going to try to sneak a retractable one, particularly with a new diaper darling on the way.

Our neighborhood farmer's market is growing every year and we're using it more and more.

This is a great thread and it's giving me food for thought today!

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 10:18am | IP Logged Quote JennGM

Great thoughts and ideas, here....I'll be pondering how I can do this.

There was a great St. Francis of Assisi Ecology Unit Study by Lesley Payne in an older issue of Heart and Mind. It really changed my perspective on environmental stewardship. My mother is a secular Franciscan and has been espousing ecology in small ways all her life, and I'd never call her liberal! I think if you talked with people who lived during the Depression and war rationings, you could see more clearly how to be a good steward.

I've got the PDF file (PM your email), or you can contact Heart and Mind for the file. Here's the introduction:

"I know many traditional Catholics who buy into the idea that, in America, all religious people are "conservative," and since environmentalism is considered a "liberal" issue, it must be a heresy. They wonder whether recycling is a mortal or just a venial sin. When you try to tell these people that there is an authentic Catholic vision of ecology they point to the handful of theological wackos who espouse extreme environmentalist positions in the name of St. Francis and other saints. It is dangerous, they will tell you, to think about conserving natural resources, because such ideas obviously lead to promotion of population control, abortion and abolition of private property, among other evils.

"In fact, stewardship of the earth is an integral part of the Catholic worldview—something urban Americans are prone to losing sight of. The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4) seems like a particularly appropriate day to re-evaluate how we are carrying out this charge, in honor of a saint who saw and loved God in every aspect of His creation, and was rewarded for this love by sharing the very wounds of Christ....."

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 10:37am | IP Logged Quote Karen E.

Great topic, Dawn.

Jenn, I'm so glad you posted that intro from the Heart and Mind piece. I'm always saddened by how things can be written off by one "side" or another as either "liberal" or "conservative" when if we'd just check the CCC more often, we'd find all we need to know, properly defined.

Stuff we do:

Low-flow shower head (but my showers are still too long.)

I try to hang more on the line in the spring and summer, though I admit that I'm not as good about it as I should be. And, I really prefer towels to be done in the dryer.

We don't do any chemicals on our lawn or in the garden.

I've been more aware of buying organic lately, thought it's still a challenge around here, and of course, prices are higher.

My husband is the gardener and we always have lots of great tomatoes and some other veggies. For pest control he goes as natural as possible, i.e., marigolds, etc.

I have so far to go in this area ... we used to recycle plastic and newspapers, but now we're about 45 minutes away from a recycling center, and there's no pick-up of any kind in this area. I'd like to get better about that again, but I'm not sure what to do.

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 11:42am | IP Logged Quote Genevieve

For the record, I don't use a clothesline. I don't know why. I use something like this I bought mine at target. Metal is much better than wood and last much longer!

We did live at one time a place that didn't allow us to dry our clothes outside so I just hung it near a window. It worked during the summer but when the weather was cooler, we used the dryer. By then, we don't wash that frequently anyway.


Oh I came here to add is that another way to help is to simply cut down your utilities. Change your light bulbs to those energy efficient ones. Lower or raise your thermostat during the winter and summer. You can always add or remove clothing, turn on fans or space heaters. You can also plant bushes around your air-contioning unit to insulate it so that it doesn't have to work so hard. Just choose deciduous plants though. And speaking of planting you could plant a tree. Or if you are not inclined you can put up awnings. Or what I did was to pitch up a canopy on the deck just outside the hottest room in the house. It doubles as shade for the sand box and for the room.

Oh and instead of using sponges to clean the house or scrub dishes, I use rags, small towels or plastic dish scrubs (I use the one without handles so I can really scrub; They usually come with a metal one too). No more buy and throw and I simply put them in the wash. The plastic dish scrubs also has the added benefit of not smelling after a while.

Boy have I gone on and one haven't I?

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 11:46am | IP Logged Quote Genevieve

Elizabeth wrote:
Sigh...we do organic food, as much as is available. I particpate in two different co-ops and frequent Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. As LIssa put it elsewhere, when you've lived through cancer, you get a little particular about some things.
\

I know what you mean. My mother, both my grandmothers and grandfather and a few of my aunts all had cancer. Thankfully they all survived except for my grandfather. You can say, I'm a little paranoid. And I'm only in my twenties. Unfortunately I only know Eastern alternative medicine which isn't readily available here. Kim suggested a Western alternative book so maybe that would help. And of course organic is hard to come by in these neck of the woods.

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 12:09pm | IP Logged Quote Dawn

I am so inspired by all your responses! I will post about what we do (and don't do but should do) later, but for now I thought it was funny what came in my mail today ...

Two telling pieces of correspondence ~ the first, a letter from a local energy fund thanking us for our support (they assist needy families with winter heating bills). The second, a letter from the White House, thanking my dear husband (bless his green heart) for writing the president with his "concerns" on energy policy!

Thanks again for the responses ~ I'm eager to hear more!


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Posted: April 21 2006 at 1:11pm | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

We have tried, where possible, to switch to fluorescent bulbs. When they burn out, they're a hazmat but they last for years.

We recycle every possible thing. Usually we fill 3 big trash cans with recycling every week and have only 1 or 2 tall kitchen bags of trash.

We read newspapers online. (This is partly because we can't get them up here, but it's a good way to cut down on paper if you really and truly don't read the whole paper every day.)

We never bag up grass clippings; they stay on the lawn as mulch.

Picking up litter and garbage along roadways is a great way to serve your community. Did you know it also helps save wildlife? According to the Virginia Wildlife Center, many animals are struck by cars because they are investigating food trash that people have thrown alongside the road. If we can pick that trash up, the animals won't go as close to the road.

I used to wash out ziplock bags and reuse them...I dried them on a mitten-drying rack (now rusted, sigh). Since I don't pack school lunches any more, I don't do as much of this.

As my Maryland electrical bill will be going up by about 70%, I appreciate this thread very much!

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 1:17pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

We just started using a push mower again (long story why we start and stop with this...something to do with moving too much and having babies .) The two oldest and I take turns mowing while one person rakes (we don't like the bag, it fills too quickly) and another bags the grass and/or trims while another watches baby.    

The push mower has been a hard sell to my husband. It doesn't produce an ultramanicured lawn and it doesn't have a big, bad, power engine . So we compromise. Once a month or before we have a gathering, dh will weed wack and power mow .

Great topic, Dawn. Thanks!

Love,

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 1:35pm | IP Logged Quote lapazfarm

The number one thing you can do for your environment, most of you are already doing. Getting your children out into nature! The more they come to know and love the out-of-doors, the more they will be invested in caring for it. After all, when nature is your friend, you don't want to see any harm come to it.
This is so much more important than anything else we can do, because we are forming the environmental ethics of the next generation, who will unfortunately be left with a less-than-ideal legacy to deal with.
True, we all have a responsibility to care for God's creation right now, by conserving resources, cutting back on harmful emissions and pollutants, and protecting fragile wild places. But let us also be sure to let our children see us doing these things and help them to understand why.
Creation is a beautiful gift from God, Who knows exactly what we need to live. To misuse it is disrespectful to Him Who gave it to us. We need to be sure to show a deep appreciation for the bounty which God has provided.
So, keep on doing that nature study-it's good for the Earth and good for the soul!

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 2:23pm | IP Logged Quote mathmama

Great topic!

We do some things around here, but I am always looking for ways to help the environment and our pocketbook!

We use all cloth diapers and wipes on the baby. Also, we use wool covers.

I bought a bunch of really thin and cheap washcloths from KMart to replace the use of paper towels. We use cloth napkins.

We got rid of all of our cleaning products and now only use earth friendly stuff. I use alot of baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils. In my opinion the house seems cleaner. Also, we use earth friendly laundry detergent.

I make all of our yogurt. Now if only our dairy went back to glass bottles. I make all of our bread.

I stopped using shampoo. I use baking soda, apple cider vinegar and just plain old water. DH still uses the regular stuff and I still use the regular stuff on DD (I think that the bs and acv would sting if it got in her eyes).

I try to do organic as much as possible and buy in bulk.

We are a 1 car family. Luckily, we live about 1.5 miles from DH work so he walks every day (even in bad weather).

That's all I can think of now. There are a bunch of things I want to do, like put up a clothes line, make family wipes to replace toilet paper, compost, plant a garden, and I am sure there are other things.

One bad thing is that we drive an SUV. I feel bad about it, but we live on a big hill. The 4 wheel drive has saved us many times.

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 2:45pm | IP Logged Quote mary

i'm squarely in the middle of being organic. i just got back from a fieldtrip to a farm that was all organic and am so inspired. here's what we do already but could do even better:

we belong to a food coop. BUT, i could switch even more to organic than i am. i struggle with giving up my tide and cascade - the organic cleaners don't seem to do as good of a job.

i have cloth diapered but stopped when i couldn't keep up with laundry, and when finding clothes that fit over a cloth bum became so hard. we use cloth napkins.

we plant a good herbicide/pesticide free garden and get extra produce from a neighbor - who grows organic food and provides us with eggs. i did just landscape around my home and am tempted to use roundup. so far, my kids are weeding for pay.

we are buying 1/2 cow from the organic farm.

i sometimes buy organic milk (we get all organic yogurt) but the price is so expensive that i don't do this consistantly.

i'd like to recycle. it surely isn't an easy process here because we are charged for recycling and limited by the small red container size. i'd love for someone to post their recycling setup.

someone posted some homemade cleaners and they sounded yummy and fun to make. would they actually clean though?
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Posted: April 21 2006 at 3:54pm | IP Logged Quote mathmama

I forgot to add one thing I would like to change and that is I would like to stop using the store grocery bags. I know that the paper ones are better than the plastic, but I find that they don't like to use the paper, so I am always carting home all of those plastic bags. Besides all the landfill space they take up, they are a hazard for little ones. I know that I could buy cloth bags, but I just haven't made the commitment money-wise. I guess I should look for some at yard sales.
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Posted: April 21 2006 at 4:03pm | IP Logged Quote Dawn

mathmama wrote:
I forgot to add one thing I would like to change and that is I would like to stop using the store grocery bags.


A couple of years ago I invested in several canvas tote bags with my homeschool support group's logo on them. I use them for groceries (so long as I remember them) and the conversations they spark are an extra bonus! Not only am I (usually) the only one with cloth bags, but oh the up and down looks I get when they realize I'm a homeschooler too!!

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 4:10pm | IP Logged Quote Genevieve

I actually use the plastic bags as trash bin liners.

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 4:13pm | IP Logged Quote SaraP

Karen E. wrote:
I'm always saddened by how things can be written off by one "side" or another as either "liberal" or "conservative" when if we'd just check the CCC more often, we'd find all we need to know, properly defined.

Did anyone else catch this article on Catholic Exchange?

We use cloth diapers, napkins, rags instead of paper towesl (mostly) and mainly vinegar, baking soda and plain old water for cleaning.

Organic food I struggle with. On my list for this year is to find a local farm to buy meat, milk and eggs from and when we lived in Annapolis I got wonderful organic produce and dairy products from Washington's Green Grocer (You all in DC/MD/VA take a look at these guys - they're WONDERFUL!) Where we are now, though, the only source I know of for organic foods is Whole Foods and I hate shopping there because they give money to Planned Parenthood.

The biggest change I have made in recent years is drastically reducing the amount of laundry detergent we use because I found that, except for diapers, we really don't need it. I actually did an experiment with two sets of clean, white pieces of cloth that I stained with various things (spaghetti, grass, chocolate, dirt and mustard) and then washed one set with detergent and one in plain warm water. Only the spaghetti stain came out better with detergent. So now I pretreat spots if I see them, only add about 1TBS of detergent a load and haven't noticed any difference in our laundry.

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Posted: April 21 2006 at 4:16pm | IP Logged Quote Kathryn UK

mary wrote:
i'd like to recycle. it surely isn't an easy process here because we are charged for recycling and limited by the small red container size. i'd love for someone to post their recycling setup.


The government here has targets for recycling, so most local councils (who are responsible for refuse collection and disposal) have a recycling scheme. We are given orange bags to fill with certain recyclables - cans, paper, card and plastic bottles. These are collected weekly. Glass we take to the bottle bank. The nearest is at our local supermarket, where there are also recycling bins for clothing and books. Maybe other things as well? I forget! Oh, and the supermarket has a place for returning plastic carrier bags for recycling or reuse. Last year the council supplied us with a green bin for garden refuse - lawn clippings, hedge trimmings and so one - which is collected every two weeks.

Our drier broke last year, and rather than fix or replace it we either line dry (if the weather is good enough), or hang clothes indoors (if not).


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