Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Earth Day! Last year I talked about resolutions, and the things I wanted to work on to make myself a little greener. At the time I had some limitations: apartment living being the main one.

Moving to Small Town has been both good and bad in terms of "greenness" - I live about a mile from work, so I bike a good portion of the time (except during freezing temperatures, bad weather, or when I need to haul equipment). Having a house has opened up a lot of other possibilities - we've been slowly replacing bulbs with more energy-efficient versions as they blow, we have a gas-free reel push mower (which works just fine), we have energy-star washer/dryer and I often hang clothes outside to dry, etc. Some of our green upgrading was put off - before Partner had a job we didn't really have the cash to add insulation to the attic, for example, but we'll be doing that this fall for sure. It's an old house, but we can make some improvements to make it semi-efficient, or at least better than it was.

My favorite part of the home-owning in terms of environmentally-related improvements is the possibility of gardening. Last weekend we went out and bought a composting bin - we'd been piling up our compost all winter, but we really needed a place to put it that wasn't just a pile of food scraps on the garden beds (we've been keeping the local rabbits happy and well-fed, at least!). Partner had been planning to build a bin, but now that he's working he hasn't had time, so we went out and purchased one. We also started some seeds indoors and have received our seed potatoes, so one of these weekends we'll be planting! I'm not sure how well things will do - we've already managed to kill some tomato seedlings by not paying close enough attention to know that their grow bulb had burned out, so we're not off to a great start. I also worry that the garden and yard will be a lot for Partner to handle when I'm abroad doing research for most of the summer, but I guess it's worth a shot and then we can reevaluate how much we want to grow next summer.

We have gone backward a bit in moving here - we no longer have a place to recycle plastic wrapping, which we had done through Partner's work in City. We throw away a lot of plastic, so that gives me some guilt. I do try to buy in bulk and avoid packaging when possible, but it's difficult to get rid of it entirely. The other major environmental crime we commit comes from Partner's long commute and our gas-guzzling vehicles (which we acquired, so to speak, instead of choosing, and while we do appreciate having them they are big vehicles). We are looking for a small car to buy, so that Partner can at least get some decent highway gas mileage, but we haven't decided what we want and we might just wait until the fall. There are surprisingly few cars we'd want to buy and fewer good incentives from car companies that aren't going under, and so far we haven't been motivated by the pricing.

I'm not sure that I have any specific resolutions for the coming year - I want to get some good compost going, see how the garden does, get some kind of new car before winter rolls around again. I would eventually like to get a home gym set up - I end up driving to my local gym several times a week, and I'd save both time and money if I could just walk downstairs. Unfortunately, I have some specific wants in terms of equipment and would end up spending about the same amount that we're about to drop on a new roof for the garage, so a home gym probably won't be happening soon. Still, it's nice to dream, right?

Happy Earth Day!

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