Friday, April 25, 2008

Grab Bag Friday: Compost Update, Sustainable Household Goods

It's the last day of Earth Week and our town is abuzz with free bike tune ups, cell phone recycling drives, and even a transportation fair. In celebration, I thought I'd give you a compost update and a review of how our various sustainable experiments worked out over the last year.

The Compost Update: All I have to say is, we're ready to go. As some of you know, last year we got a Sun-Mar 200 Home Composter and ended up with zero results at the end of the summer (apparently because our composter wasn't full enough?) Well, we've been adding stuff all winter, and let me tell you, it's full enough. If we don't have compost by June, we're out of excuses, and it was a failed experiment. I, of course, remain hopeful...

The Sustainable Goods Results: Here's where I'll rate the success of our various small household changes and how well we've stuck to them over the year. Click on the titles to review last year's posts:

The Lightbulb Change
We haven't replaced every single lightbulb yet (hence the 4 stars instead of 5), but we love our CFLs. They start out a little dim when you turn on the light, but within a minute or so, they're up to speed. I haven't had to change a single one. They're awesome.

The Yogurt Change
I've been really good about this one. If you remember, the change was to bring a regular spoon to work instead of using a plastic one for my yogurt. I eat yogurt at work at least 3 or 4 days a week, so I estimate that I've saved somewhere between 140-180 plastic spoons from the landfill just since June 2007!

The Sponge Change
These biodegradable pop-up sponges were definitely my favorite change of the year. Because they're so fun to expand! My estimate: we sent 45 fewer sponges to the landfill since June. As I mentioned last year, they don't have the scraping/scrubbing action of the heavy-duty store bought sponges, but between these and a scrub brush, I haven't come across a single thing I couldn't clean.

The Leftover Change
We haven't been the best at this one. We've definitely reduced the quantity of plastic bags and saran wrap that we use, but we haven't been able to totally shake the habit. We do, however, have a ridiculous number of saved yogurt and other containers spilling out of our cupboards, just waiting to be used. Hm.

The Napkin Change
I'd say we've been pretty good about moving to cloth napkins. We use them most of the time. But after a year, I'm not 100% sure about this one. What do you think is worse--the number of paper napkins that get thrown away, or the load of laundry that you do with all the cloth napkins? The cloth napkins seem like the way to go, but then when I'm loading them into the washer, I'm not so sure. Any thoughts?

Well, that's where we stand. Over the next few weeks, I'll try to remember to post some other successes, failures, and discoveries we've made on the sustainable goods front (for instance, our disastrous experiment with earth-friendly dishwasher detergent).

If you've tried any sustainable solutions that are working in your home, please share!


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note about napkins: it takes *a lot* of water and energy to make the paper to make the disposable napkins. Then there's all the energy for transporting the raw materials and finished goods. And the by-products of the paper manufacturing process are pretty toxic.

So even though you have to wash the cloth napkins, you're almost certainly using much less water and energy, and creating a lot less pollution. Stick with them! =)

Josephine Cameron said...

Thanks, EH! After further discussion, Kevin & I came to the same conclusion. :)