Environmental activism has never been a huge priority with me. My official stance regarding climate change is I Have No Opinion, but I’m enough of a postmodern (although not a postmodernist, there’s a difference) to be fairly skeptical regarding broad claims to epistemological certainty made by many in the field of natural sciences—and on a variety of subjects, of which climate change is only one. If you want more specificity than that, I will tell you that I usually resonate with Planet Moron on the matter.
So there’s that. But here’s what has happened: as I’ve tried to make my consumption choices more oriented towards the stewardship of our financial resources (read: as I’m turning into more of a tightwad) and I’ve become more oriented to living attentively in a specific space, place and community (which means, among other things, buying seasonally and locally, where practicable), I’ve started taking measures which happen also to mesh with the stated concerns of many environmentalists:
homemade laundry detergent
TipNut has about nine billion recipes, but I use the following, which is cheap, easy and effective:
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated (I use my auxiliary food processor for this)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
Stir thoroughly to combine. Store in an airtight container. Use 2-4 Tbsp per load, depending on your water (and your dirt). It works great, and HEY, no phosphates and no container to trash or recycle! I could buy some fancy pants “green” detergent at Whole Paycheck, but this is way cheaper, and I don’t have to go breathe the smug.
no more fabric softener
I got this idea from Christine Moers over at Welcome To My Brain: white vinegar in the Downy ball. Seriously. It makes clothes truly scent-free and softens just the right amount. And, a $3.50 for a gallon and a half of the stuff at Wegman’s, it’s the cheapest fabric softener I can imagine. Did you know commercial fabric softeners make your towels less absorbent? They do. Vinegar does not. This is a happy thing. And HEY, no icky heavy metals leaching into your clothes and skin.
I love, love, love my Diva Cup. I bought (from Whole Foods, I admit) it to save money on feminine hygiene products, but it also saves waste, as it turns out. I can’t think of a way to recycle tampons, can you?
This is another idea from Welcome To My Brain. I have gone shampoo free. Like Christine, I just give my hair a good thorough rinse when I shower, and every few days I scrub in some—get this—baking soda followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. My hair is in great shape and this is such a cheap alternative to shampoo. And HEY no sulfates!
Vinegar is so wondrous, its uses so manifold. What else will clean your hair AND your clothes AND your kitchen floor?
I love meat. I love prime steak, and pork chops, and ohmyheart bacon. Love them, love them, love them. I can’t imagine ever going totally vegetarian.
But I almost have. Meat is expensive, and we are on a tight budget. Also meat is not so healthful, at least in the quantities I would consume if the restraints of circumstance were totally removed. So we have meat about once a week (more often for the growing boys—thank God for Dino Buddies) at most. For special occasions my nice husband takes me out for steak or I take him out for sushi. But mostly we chow on veg, grains, dairy and eggs. And as it happens, the large-scale production of meat for food has-- according to some, anyway-- a high environmental impact. So.
There are more, similar strategies to be implemented in the near future: a CSA membership this spring (about which I am SO excited), switching to baking soda after my current tube of toothpaste runs out, experimenting with essential oil/ baking soda combinations in place of deodorant, and so on.
What are you doing in terms of frugality and/or conservation?