22 April 2012

Happy Earth Day to You, Happy Earth Day to You, Happy Earth Day, Dear Reader...!

Did you know that Earth Day has been around since 1970? Maybe it's just because I've had more time to enjoy it (including the last several days of Earth Week activities around Austin and beyond), but it seems like Earth Day has really taken hold as more of a mainstream event this year.

I obviously think every day is a good day to do our part for the environment, so I'd like to take this occasion to recap the Green House's progress toward being just a little kinder to the world. (Check out last year's tips for greening up your home here.) With most of the basics covered, we're finding ourselves having to dig a little deeper for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint...and some of the things we've done are decidedly not basic. But here they are:

Reusable sandwich/snack bags. For Christmas, we got these nifty reusable bags:

There are a lot of different brands of similar bags, but these are the only we've seen that are dishwasher-able. (Most others are designed to go in the laundry. I like that ours don't need to travel around the house to get clean.)

Solar panels. We decided to install a 6-kilowatt system last summer, they were put into operation in October, and now they're making roughly a 100% difference in our electric bills.

The bill we received yesterday had a credit of $2.31, compared with a charge of about $60 for the same time period last year. But knowing that we'll be helping Texas's overburdened grid this summer is perhaps an even better reward.

Homegrown veggies and herbs. We're still a long way from having our vegetable garden built and producing fresh veggies, but we are growing a handful of edibles in the backyard.

In addition to the rosemary and lavender that we planted last year, we have three new basil plants (two of which I discovered growing on their own the other day, presumably after reseeding from last year's plant), as well as some Italian parsley and broccoli for the bunnies. Once the Italian parsley plant gets big enough to harvest, it will actually save us gas, as running out of Italian parsley is the most common reason we end up making a separate trip to the grocery store.

Recycling electronics. The property manager at Steve's office coordinated electronics recycling drop-off last week (in honor of Earth Week), and we took full advantage.

I'll admit that we've been electronics (and cable) hoarders over the last few years, but it's only because we haven't known what to do with obsolete equipment. We didn't need this stuff but didn't want to just throw it away, either...so an opportunity to recycle it (through a company called Round 2) was just what we needed to free up a bunch of space in our office.

Walking. We've never quite gotten the hang of using our bikes for errands around town, but we love walking to nearby businesses for dinner, shopping, and especially to pick up/drop off Redbox movies. (And when we have to drive anywhere, we're black belt trip-combiners.)

Rainwater collection. After landscaping (most of) our yard last year, we decided we needed to offset our water use with a bigger rainwater collection system than just our two little rainbarrels. So far only the base is in...

...but we expect the cistern to be delivered next week, and once the system is complete (and we get some good rain), our landscape is going to love being fed with pure, untreated rainwater.

So there you have it. I look forward to finishing the rainwater system (more than you know...) and then finding the next green endeavor to embrace.

Hope you're having a great Earth Day! I'm off to enjoy Earth!

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