CableGirl has inspired me throughout the month on various ways to not only help reduce global warming, but save us money! (Gas is currently $3.87 here in L.A.) It's a win-win. As she suggested, here are the things we are planning (or are currently doing) for our part:
Switching to compact flourescent bulbs. At this point, the majority of our house is lit with flourescent bulbs. I was lucky enough to find a sale at one point, and I stocked up! Even if you don't need any at the moment, this is a good item to check anytime you're shopping, and grab whenever you can.
Having a weekly Earth Hour. Now, we're pretty good during the week at making sure all the lights are turned off before we leave for the day, saving us hours of electricity at home, but since the event last month, we've also decided to have an Earth Hour every weekend as well. That's one hour with no electronics used. (We keep alarm clocks and the like plugged in.) It's fairly easy to do, and certainly saves on our electricity bill.
Keep the a/c off. This is an easy one for me. I hate air conditioning. It's always bothered me. I like open windows instead. I'll make frozen treats, take the girls to the pool (or just a cool bath), and make plenty of iced tea for myself.
Also, and this may sound weird, but we tend to stay indoors for the hottest hours of the day. For one thing, it protects your skin. And it just makes it seem cooler instead of going outside during the hottest hours of the day, and then not being able to cool off quickly so feeling forced to consume more a/c, water, etc. in trying to cool down. If you stay indoors, you're not feeling the heat as much to begin with.
Investing in more reusable products. This is still on my list to do. I'd tried using more reusable containers for my daughters' lunches, but they would lose them so often it was becoming more expensive than just sandwich bags and the like. Now, however, they're older and more responsible, and also just more aware of being environmentally-friendly. They have lunch boxes which they're remembering to take and bring home every day; I think they can handle more reusable containers for their snacks now.
Also, as CableGirl suggested, we're going to switch to cloth napkins. I've already gotten better about using more dish towels for cleaning than paper towels - and we've always used paper towels instead of paper napkins anyway - and I think the girls will love this switch as they love setting the table and trying to make it pretty.
No speeding! Becoming a mother changed my driving habits completely. My precious cargo was not worth trying to save a few minutes here and there. Now, I find out that driving at or below the speed limit saves on gas, too!
Look for more natural products. I really have to thank Kate for introducing me to Tom's of Maine products - a company that from its very inception was committed to providing personal products that are natural.
And in general, although it may cost more, I'm trying to buy more and more organic products as possible. I figure, I'm saving money in other areas so this is the place to spend it. I want the grocery stores and manufacturers to know that this is what I want. And hopefully, the more people buy, the more they'll make organic products, and then the prices will decrease a little. But if no one buys it while it's expensive, then we're not motivating the market to go that direction.
I know, too, that some companies are talking the talk without walking the walk, but I'm hoping that so long as we remain vigilant consumers, they will have to follow suit. Idealistic? Maybe. But it's worth a shot!
And here's the other thing: the organic products simply taste and work better. Sylvia much prefers Tom's of Maine strawberry toothpaste over those bubble-gum "brand" names. The organic carrots taste much better than the non-organic! The quality is worth the cost.
And ladies: please consider alternatives to tampons and maxi pads that make you feel like you're wearing training pants! I've always hated these products, and was thrilled when my big sis told me about Instead cups. They're hard to find at grocery stores, but I've found that buying them online is even chepaer, anyway! Also, Lunanik's sister blogged about even more alternatives that are even more earth-friendly, as well as wallet-friendly. Think about it. And may I remind you of toxic shock syndrome? As a mother of girls, I'm thrilled that I have more to offer them than the two options that I was given!
Recycling. This should be a given by now!
Now I will be the first to say that there's much, much more that I could do. I am by no means an expert on this stuff. These are all relatively easy, I grant you.
But that's my point. You don't have to be a bona fide hippie to make a difference. These are all things that, really, anyone can do. And I intend to keep my eyes and ears out for even more. And that's what Earth Day is about for me - a chance to reflect on what I'm doing, what I'm not, and how I can do better.
Please add any suggestions that you think I should've thought of by now. I doubt very much that I'm doing more than any of my readers, but in honor of awareness, it seemed a good idea to post about it, anyway.