This is the age of going “green.” Environmentally friendly ideas have never been so relevant or cost effective. I remember as a child, going “green” meant growing a vegetable garden in the summer and turning off lights
when you left the room. Now, you have cleaner burning fuels, floors
made from renewable resources, and cleansing products without preservatives. You can build a solar powered home, you can use fluorescent light bulbs in your home and all at a price much lower than in the past.
Alas, with every good thing comes a reason why you should not do it.
What Will You Use to Line Trash Cans?
I jumped the bandwagon and purchased reusable grocery bags. Our grocery store had them up for sale and at less than a dollar, I figured it would be a worthy investment. The bags were sturdy and well sewn and my favorite color, red.
After a month, I realized my mistake. I was not receiving the small plastic bags anymore and I had depleted my stash. Trashcans were going bare in my household. We needed a wet bag for swimsuits and we had to use a cloth bag- the horror!
I slunk back to the grocery store, sans reusable bags and greedily loaded up on plastic bags.
How Strong are You, Really?
If you decide to go green, you had better buy a gym membership. One thing I did not count on was the size of reusable shopping bags. Besides the ones I purchased from our grocery store, I also found a few extra large Envirosax shoppers that fold up into a small roll that is easy to slip into your handbag. It is perfect for a quick trip to the store or mall. But beware of using them for groceries.
I handed off my Envirosax and other bags to the bag boy and concentrated on unloading my shopping cart. After paying, the strapping young 16 year old handed me the bags. My arms nearly came out of the sockets. These bags are large so you are holding a good 50-60 pounds in weight. What would normally take 6-8 plastic bags can fit easily into two Envirosaxs. I suppose the bagger figured if I could manage to wrangle a 40-pound wiggling child, a handbag the size of a house, and unload a cart at the same time, I could manage dead weight.
But on the plus side, the bags never burst, though I have never wished for something so detrimental in my life.
How Much Laundry Do You Want to Do?
I took a second stab at green living. The experts say take baby steps into becoming an environmentally friendly household. So my next step was to purchase cloth napkins and placemats. Sounds like a simple solution and frankly, everyone was surprised that I did not already have a good set of napkins and placemats. But when you are a take-out “cook,” paper and plastic are high class enough.
I tried out my new green living on houseguests. I neatly set the breakfast table my brand new Vera Bradley cloth napkins and placemats and afterwards, I panicked. What were we going to do for lunch? Or for that matter, dinner? I had 10 cloth napkins on hand and 6 people in the house. Consider that one of those was a 3 year old who insisted on using two napkins. At least the placemats appeared to have come through one meal cleanly. I quickly tossed the napkins in the laundry and decided it was hopeless. Here I was doing a load of laundry for just napkins.
My husband reminded me that I should just buy two more sets and wash the dirty ones as I had a full load of laundry. Eh…but think of all the work having to fold them and then finding a place to store them…
Go Light Your World- Really, Really Well
So I figured if going green was supposed to be easy, why not try the simplest of all chores- changing light bulbs. I purchased the absurdly curlicued fluorescent bulbs from Amazon.com…a Gold Box coupon special!…and then tried to figure out what the ratio of wattage is. I sat dumbfounded trying to figure out how much 25 watts was in regular light bulb speak. As it was, I managed to blow one “will last for 10 years” bulb in 5 minutes.
I did manage to get the bulbs into our lamps but then realized we would have to go lampshade-less. The bulbs were too large to fit the harp of the lampshade over. Back to the internet to find that yes, indeed they do make mini-bulbs to fit in lamps. Sighing, I put the excess big bulbs away and wait for the UPS man to bring me my mini-bulbs. This initial investment was quickly adding up. I was also storing bulbs that, according to the box, I would not need for 10 years- when the other ones finally blew. I hoped I would not break them in that time.
My first attempt with the bulbs produced a blinding effect in our home. We have since gotten used to turning on the kitchen lights and seeing stars for a few minutes. We have also become accustomed to the pointed way the new bulbs show off imperfections. Sometimes I miss the old bulbs and the way they softened the lines on my face in the mornings.
However much we may not like the starkness of fluorescent lights, the electric bill is certainly much more palatable. (And I hear you can now get softer focus fluorescent bulbs.)
Now if you have not already realized, I wrote this tongue-in-cheek. I am trying to go green but very, very slowly. Here is a list of the products I mentioned in the article. I really do use and would recommend them to anyone.
Envirosax Shopping Bags- http://www.envirosax.com
I purchased mine from Target.com for $9.99 each then discovered they were cheaper when purchased directly from Envirosax. The cost is $8.50 a piece or $37.95 for a pouch of 5. These are very sturdy and large bags. The colors and patterns are unique and fun. I enjoy using these bags for light shopping because of the shoulder strap. It is a great to keep your hands free while carrying your packages; particularly for moms with young ones in tow.
Bruno’s Reusable Bags- any Bruno’s grocery store
The cost for these stand up, paper sack style, cotton bags is $0.99. I like them because they are smaller than the Envirosax and easier to carry out grocery items. The removable base is nice because you can pack the bag squarely without holding it and fold it flat when not in use.
Vera Bradley Placemats and Napkins- www.verabradley.com or local retailer
I am sure you have seen Vera Bradley’s distinctive cotton floral patterned handbags around. But what you may not know is that she has a whole line of kitchen and home decorating items. Regular prices on placemats is $12 each and cloth napkins run $6 each but you can get retiring fabrics for much less. I highly recommend buying these placemats because they are high quality fabric with expert quilting. They are machine washable and hold up extremely well. I usually dry mine flat on a drying rack and there is never a need to iron. The napkins are exactly the same. No ironing needed and they come out beautifully every time. I am sure there is a certain amount of fading that will occur over time but after several washings, I have not seen it yet.
Fluorescent Bulbs- any store or Amazon.com
Prices vary widely on these bulbs but you will easily recognize them by the curlicue look. I suggest pricing boxes based on what you will need. I wound up purchasing more than I needed because I was blinded by the “good deal” on multi-bulb packages. Type in “fluorescent bulbs” at Amazon.com and you will find several brands and types with customer reviews. I used the Globe brand because of a deal and have not been disappointed. They also offer these bulbs in soft white (which is bright) and warm white (which is more subtle.) Bulbs can cost anywhere from $3.99 a bulb to 15.99 for a multi-bulb pack.