Is it Easy Being Green?

My daily adventures in attempting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle

A new way to print January 16, 2010

Filed under: reducing waste — isgreeneasy @ 3:48 pm
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Still obsessing on reducing waste, I’m trying out the suggestion from the No Impact Experiment of downloading a program called “Green Print“. After watching the video tutorial, I learned that after you download Green Print and select it as your printer when printing a document, it will enable you to remove images and/or text from your document before actually printing it out. This seems especially useful when printing from the Internet; I don’t know how many times I’ve printed and ended up with way more pages because of unrelated images I didn’t want (no, I do not want the latest IPhone app, and no thank you, I do not need the unbelievable weight loss miracle), or ended up with the last page having two lines of text that I didn’t need anyway (thank you, Craigslist). I’ve often copied and pasted text into a Word document to avoid these annoyances, but that can be a pain and can create some new formatting problems to deal with, so it’s not the perfect solution.

I’ve tried Green Print out once (the free version) and I think it’ll come in handy. One cool thing is that Green Print keeps a tally for you of how much money and greenhouse gases you’ve saved by reducing the number of pages you print. It’s a small thing, but over time may really make more of a difference than I realize.

 

No Impact Experiment, part 2: Trash January 13, 2010

Filed under: composting,recycling,reducing waste,Reuse — isgreeneasy @ 5:56 pm
Tags: ,

The second week of my No Impact Experiment focused on one of my favorite subjects–trash. I think about trash a lot–maybe a little too much. But this gave me a chance to think about it even more! The instructions were to save all of my trash for one day and separate it into piles of stuff I used for more or less than 10 minutes, and then think about how it made me feel. Then I was supposed to put together a no trash travel kit consisting of a reusable water bottle and mug, tupperware, old t-shirt or handkerchief and reusable produce bags. Throughout the week I was to keep track of what I absolutely had to throw away and couldn’t find an alternative for.

So what I found out is a) I’ve been dropping the ball on reusing a durable coffee mug when I buy my americanos; b) I use a decent amount of tissues; c) food waste is definitely, by far, the thorn in my trashy side; and d) the answer to how creating trash makes me feel is: crazy. I weighed my waste one day and had 1.7 pounds, most of which was food waste like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells, plus a hefty five pound turkey carcass (it was a couple of days after Thanksgiving and I made turkey soup). Food waste is heavy and takes up a lot of room in the garbage. Since starting my little composting project I’m able to compost some food waste, but because I have a small bin I can only compost a fraction of what I create, which is so frustrating! I looked into how No Impact Man was able to compost everything in the middle of NYC, and he had worm bin for some of the waste and dropped off the rest for a local environmental group that does composting.

I also looked through my recycling bin, because even though it’s not going to the landfill, these are still resources that I used for a short time and will be “down-cycled” to the point of not being able to be recycled anymore at some point. Our recycling bin always fills up fast, which is definitely better than throwing things in the garbage, but it still isn’t ideal. Many of those things could just not be there in the first place. I had one pound, 12 ounces of recycling from two days, and it consisted mostly of paper–newspaper, mail, packaging–and then also included a milk container, apple cider jug and a couple of glass jars.

So where can I make improvements? Since the trash week I’ve been much better at taking my own mug when I buy coffee; I’ve used it probably half of the time which isn’t too bad. I’ve also worked on reusing produce bags when I shop; I’ve been good about using durable shopping bags, but I’ve been pretty inconsistent with the produce bags. I’ve been thinking a little more about packaging, for instance, I’m trying to never buy meat in the plastic or styrofoam containers–instead I’m getting the paper-wrapped meats from the butcher counter. That will still create waste, but it’s not quite as evil as the plastic. Those are a few changes I’m working on so far, and I’m still thinking about other changes I can make. I don’t know if I’m willing to replace tissues with handkerchiefs, just don’t know about that one right now.

The unavoidable food scrap waste is just going to be an ongoing dilemma I fear. I am going to look into giving my food scraps to a local farm at my farmer’s market; I’ve heard that some of them may take organic waste. I’m at least working on wasting less food buy buying/cooking more realistic amounts, so hopefully that will help a bit. Fortunately my husband is a leftover-eating king, so he’s doing his part for the team! More trash-reducing updates to come!