Monday, January 25, 2010

One Small Change - January

You may have noticed a new button over on the top right hand side of my blog over the past month. It's for a wonderful challenge hosted by Hip Mountain Mama entitled 'One Small Change'. The challenge is to make one small earth friendly change each month from January until Earth day in April, and then post about it on your blog. Even though the change may seem small, it all adds up, especially when you think about the hundreds of other people making similar changes with you.
I am finally getting around to posting our change for the month of January. I am a bit late with this post, seeing as how we are supposed to post our changes at the beginning of the month but oh well, better late than never, right?

Our family cloth (which is actually recycled in a sense because they used to be the girl's diaper wipes)

I feel like we are a relatively earth conscious family to begin with (we recycle, re-use everything possible, use cloth bags, cloth diapers, family cloth, etc) so it took me a bit to decide what our first change would be. I would love to do something major like install solar panels, or get rain barrels to collect our water but those options are just not realistic for our budget at this time. That made me think about our budget and how the cost of living in Portland has been kicking our butts...

Homemade cleaning solution - vinegar, water and essential oils

Then the light bulb went off in my head, literally. Our first change would be to replace every single light bulb inside and outside of our home with energy saving bulbs. We had been meaning to since we moved in anyways but just hadn't gotten around to it. Not only are they better for the environment but they also save us money (every single penny counts right now for us). It's a win-win situation! I do really love how frugality and environmental consciousness generally go hand in hand.

Our rag bag (an old re-used burlap rice bag) filled with rags made from old towels, worn out knitted washcloths, stained shirts.. you name it, it's there!

So I went around and changed every single bulb and felt pretty darn good about it. The bulbs work great, but I wouldn't expect anything less. I know I am not single-handedly saving the world with my bulbs but I do know I am making a difference and teaching my girls in the process.
I do feel the need to mention a slight down-fall with this change, I ran into the only negative issue (that I know of, at least) with these bulbs... I dropped one and it shattered all over my kitchen floor. I froze not knowing what to do. Luckily Kevin was home and he took the girls. I reached for the broom then something told me not to so I put it back down. I then ran to the computer and quickly looked up how to clean up mercury and followed the instructions (which specifically said do NOT sweep or vacuum!). Everything is all cleaned up and fine now, and I am quite happy with our change, but I do admit that bulb breaking gave me a bit of a scare!

My lazy helper

Anyone else taking the challenge?



Mama Rainbow said...

May I join you? I've been popping over here for a little while now but I don't think I have ever left a comment before now.
I like to think we're already pretty green in our ways but I'm a firm believer in the phrase "always room for improvement" when it comes to our impact on the environment!

Blessings x

Sally said...

I am taking the challenge, and i officially nixed wal-mart. it's change coming from a different direction but it feels great to be liberated from that place. as a perk, we are learning more about resources that are available in our area, meeting more people! We are learning to really consider what we need vs. what we THOUGHT we needed, and it's been a great opportunity.

We have started replacing our bulbs as our old ones burn out, but the breaking thing is what has scared me about them -- i need to read how to clean it up!

Jackie @ Lilolu said...

I've been hearing a lot about the family cloth and would like to try it but I'm pretty sure my family wouldn't be too happy about it.

We do our best to do our part to make a difference and I'm sure I can think of one other small change we can make. I'll be sure to post about it once I can think of it.

Mackenzie said...

That's great! I haven't signed up for the challenge yet, but I have been meaning too. For January we've been dropping our heat down, we started at 68* and now we're down to 65* day and night! We're waiting for the final bill to come through but it looks like we've dropped the power bill by about a third...yay!!! And it means we can actually wear our winter clothing so I'm getting to see all the handmade goodness way more than if we were keeping the temp at "t-shirt weather".

Andrea said...

Yikes! We've used CFLs for many years and have had a few break...before I knew any better we just swept it up and stuck the broken lamp in a box in the basement. I live in horror of all the mercury floating around my house. Here's a good writeup on what to do next time one breaks:

Unknown said...

good job in changing the bulbs! we have done that as well. my dad works for lowes so got us an entire case of energy efficient bulbs..woohoo!

i am stealing your rag bag idea. i'm in the process of redoing alot inside and all these ideas i see are being encorporated..teehee..

give the girlies hugs from their aunty cat!


Suzanne said...

I love your basmati rice bag--I have one for rags too. Thought I was the only one...LOL! I didn't realize those bulbs had mercury. We are taking the challenge too--ours with heat. I live in TAXachusetts--don't move here:-) The heating bill is kickin' our butts! So turning down heat, making sure the woodstove is cranking and layering more woolens. We're not uncomfortable at all. We just got complacent:-( I am not brave enough to do the family cloths--I am thinking of giving up my paper towels for February and I am already having anxiety attacks...LOL!

Nancy said...

We are! We said a complete goodbye to paper towels. It's been a long, slow goodbye over the last couple of years but we're done.

Sadly, we haven't been able to switch to fluorescent bulbs--our wiring blows them out. It must be the old wiring.

I want to do a rain barrel too--I think this is "our year" as it's been for your family & light bulbs. We shall see!

Linda said...

It is wonderful to be a part of this wonderful challenge that has reached across the globe. We have been enjoying ours for the month of January and looking forward to our new change in February...

Jennifer said...

We joined the challenge too, this month was getting back to using cloth bags at the store every single time. I had been slacking a little, but am now back in the habit. That's great that you made the switch. Isn't it funny how we sometimes wait forever to do something that literally takes ten minutes? Looking forward to seeing what your next change will be.

momma rae said...

you bring up a good point about cfl's. we switched all of ours out a couple of years ago, but i find myself replacing some with the old style....those that seem more likely to break. i also have had a tough time with this in my classroom. we use lamps to light and want to be eco-friendly, but i don't wish to risk having one of them break with a room full of children!

Joy said...

We're not taking the challenge because I'm swamped right now with room changes and an upcoming birthday. Like you, I'm also now sure what other changes we could make right now. I've never had a CFL bulb break on me, but I've heard stories. I'm glad you were able to get it cleaned up ok. My husband insists on leaving our backyard spotlights on all night long (safety, he says) and that makes me doubly glad for CFLs. :)

TulsiLeaf said...

ooooo, I like that idea. We to live frugally and we need to do things like this.

My problem with my husband is that although he thinks he is conscious, he has a penchant for paper towels, sponges and toilet paper.
I noticed your knitted dishcloths. How do they work for you? I want to get my husband out of the sponges (they are expensive to buy for one thing) but here in Florida nothing dries and I am concerned about them molding.

Great post!

martha said...

Ha! I didn't even know about this, but perhaps I should join up since we're switching out the paper towels (note my blog post today).

I found Nancy's comment about old wiring interesting since we are always burning out the CFLs. I wonder if that is why...

I'll be interested to see what else you are doing.

Steph said...

Ikea has some energy saving bulbs in which the CFL tube is contained in a 'bulb shaped' glass, covered with a rubbery material. In my experience they are more resistant to breakage or the CFL may break but not the outer glass.
Rain barrels: we made ours for less than $10 each following instructions found online. The only difficulty was to find someone selling old food plastic barrels.

Anonymous said...

We aren't doing the challenge but always trying to do the best we can anyway. It's hard because I've been so tired that things have been sliding more than I'm comfortable with.

This post is very inpirational though - I like your washcloths that are knit up. Do you have a pattern? I realize it's probably super simple but they are cute.

regina said...

my hubby, who is a self-proclaimed papertowel addict, sent me this:

it focuses on the logistical how-to so you can get everyone on board.

we have used cloth for a while but go through phases of crazy papertowel binges!

best wishes to everyone!

Shel said...

I have been reading your beautiful blog for a couple of months now and have been wanting to comment and tell you how much I have enjoyed reading everything! I thought today would be a good day to say hi and tell you we are participating in the One Small Change challenge too! Much like you we are already a really Earth Friendly family so it took a little bit for us to figure out what to do. We chose to switch to cloth napkins! We could not figure out why we had not switched already and figured now was the perfect time! Now just to begin to figure out what to do next month!

Hip Mountain Mama said...

It is so great to see your post up! What a great first change! Thanks for joining and I look forward to hearing more about your changes!

gardenmama said...

oh, gosh i did not realize they have mercury in them yikes... i appreciate seeing the changes you are making Nicole, inspiring!

Sheila said...

What did you do with the old bulbs? Why not just replace them with cfls as they burnt out? Just curious :)

Mardi said...

Nice post. We use the "cloth diaper sprayer" that is attached to our toilet as a bidet! Very sanitary imo.

Umatji said...

Great change - I know what you mean about finding one. On one hand there are lots of little ones and on the other hand there are lots of big ones but they often take a budget so it is interesting/ Good change though - enjoy the light@+!

Tonya Gunn said...

Such a wonderful idea. We have joined in as well. It is so important to realize that each of us can and do make a difference. We also make the cleaners and have a rag bag like you do. Thank you for sharing.
Warm wishes,

Nicola said...

excellent change, nicole. we are doing one small change as well. i agree, i had to think about it, as we do many of the little environmental things, too. and i agree about wanting to make a bigger change like solar. and i agree about the tight budget and about how wonderful the eco-eco living pairs so wonderfully.
so fun to be changing as a community!

Heather said...

The challenge is really remarkable, because I think that it is just a great reminder that it does take much to make true change.

We gave up using any kind of plastic, even in drink bottles, condiments, etc, and it has truly been a challenge.

I love everything that you are doing, and I understand your feelings with the light bulbs. We switched ours last year, and we also made a committment to light by fire or candlelight as much as possible, and to use small lamps with low wattage to light our home at night.

Thanks for sharing

Hip Mountain Mama said...

by the way! I am posting your link in our community of change page. To get your Feb post out there, you will have to add it yourself in the forum under "Feb blog post links"

Anonymous said...

I was going to do this too but then got into a conversation with some scientist friends (Phds and professors) And they had some excellent points:
1. We are not actually "wasting" energy through regular incandescent bulbs, but that in a cooler climate the heat (energy) that comes off the bulb is actaully part of the overall heat in your home (ie without the heat from the bulbs one would have to add more heat to get to same hoem temperature.)
2. but more importantly these bulbs are really awful in terms of the amount of mercury they contain.(

Personally I prefer incandescents for these two reasons, any extra heat is awesome. Certainly for the major part of the year (note I do not live a particularily warm area)

Anonymous said...

Such a great idea. Hmmm... I feel like we already do so much: cloth diapers, wipes, paper-towel free, reusable grocery sacks, got rid of a car. I even bring in all of my jars for sugar, flour, beans to the local-coop so I dont have to waste a bag!

I am taking the challenge but will need to let this marinate for a few days :)

Indigo, madder, marigold said...

Oh yeah, we are taking the challenge. No-poo and cloth diapering at night have been in the works for us. Funny, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. Yay for one small change!

FrontierDreams said...

Thank you so much everyone for sharing your challenges!! This is so inspiring!!

Tulsileaf - We LOVE our knitted washcloths. I do have to change them out about every other day but I have quite a few. A lot of them were knit by my husband's Nana.

Kelly and Kelly - I have been using a simple pattern I printed off of knitting pattern central a couple of years back. They are all free patterns and really fast and easy. HTH!

weliveintheforest - Hey you! Yes, we probably should have just waited for the old ones to burn out, I was just so excited to get started! We do have the old ones though and my husband is going to bring them to work to use there, so they won't be wasted.

Anonymous - Thank you for posting that. I have never come across that information.

Karah said...

We found cheap(er) rain barrels at our local habitat for humanity restore. We got ours for $80? $90? something like that! It makes up for it though when watering the garden. We saved so much money this past year alone.

Anonymous said...

We're taking the challenge, too!

We went to CFL's last year. I think I may have one or two floodlights in the living room that are still "regular". They are starting to flicker, so I'm just waiting for them to burn out before putting in CFL floodlights.

Our change for January was to ditch plastic sandwich bags and start using washable fabric ones.

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Can you tell me... what did you do about the broken light bulb? I honestly have not made the switch 100% because they are toxic. Oh so much more toxic than the other lightbulbs. You have to dispose of them differently and I know people are not doing that. Which means that more horrid stuff is going into our landfills... I am torn. The energy saving would be great (we are with you... every penny counts!) but we are torn over the heavy metals thing.

I may join you as well in this little challenge.

Loved your article in Rhythm. Kudos... you did a great job and your project looks fun enough to break me out of my crafting funk.



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