To the readers of this and my other blog: I must start by apologizing for falling off of the face the earth last week. I came down with this pseudo-flu virus that might as well have been the flu virus--I was that sick. We're talking days of fever, days spent sleeping and not a useful bone in my body for blogging. So I'm sorry that I've fallen behind on the Green Boot Camp posts, but I hope to get caught up this week.
Now onto the review I started last week--and promptly got too sick to finish. It was a brief review of what we'd covered in the first nine weeks of Green Boot Camp. We got through Week Four, and that is where we will take off from now.
The focus of Week Five was learning how to make your home appliances become more energy efficient for you--even if you can't afford to just donate them to charity and buy all-new Energy Star appliances in one fell swoop. Some of the tips included:
* Washing all laundry on the cold-water setting. You burn the most energy when you have to heat hot water, and not so much in running the washing machine itself.
* Let laundry soak to get out stains instead of running the heavy-duty cycle, which likely uses more water.
* Never skip the spin cycle. It is what gets the extra moisture out of your wet laundry and lets them dry faster.
Which brings us the the dryer. You'll save the most energy by not using the dryer as much. I suggested that you put your laundry into the dryer, let it run for 10 or so minutes, then pull items out to hang dry.
Another appliance I discussed was your refrigerator and freezer--and how to make them run most efficiently. Two tips included keeping them both as full as possible at all times, and not leaving the door open so that cold air escapes. But you probably learned that tip years ago from your mother.
Week Six--Phantom Energy Suckers
This was all about those appliances and other electronic devices that you leave plugged in, even when you're not using them, which means they are sucking energy out of your house and running up your bill. The best way to deal with these suckers is to create a charging station in one or two areas of your home using a power strip. That way you can charge everything at once, in one place, and then turn off the power strip when you're done. A turned-off power strip will no longer draw power.
Week Seven--Reusable Bags for Grocery Shopping
The focus of this week was getting you into the habit of bringing your own bags with you when you grocery shop instead of relying on the disposable plastic bags at the checkout counter. Of course, you could buy the bags that many supermarkets are selling these days but why spend money when you don't have to? Some of the advice I shared included where to find free canvas bags that can become your reusable grocery bags. For example, I talked about how I dug out all of the canvas bags that I'd received as giveaways at conferences and events that I'd attended over the years. You could also ask your friends and families if they have canvas bags that you could take off of their hands or put a listing on Freecycle or Craigslist to find free canvas bags. In the meantime, until you've secured your canvas bag stash, take any of the plastic or paper bags you've received when food shopping, and reuse them until they are falling apart. It's better than not reusing bags at all!
Week Eight--Packaging Decisions
This week was all about rethinking the kinds of products you buy, based on how they are packaged. For example, I suggested that when you go to the grocery store, you try to find jarred items in glass instead of plastic, which, it turns out, is a lot harder than you might think. However if you must choose plastic, find the companies that are using recycled plastic for their containers.
Week Nine--All About Organics
We started this week with a quick review of what exactly qualifies a food as being organic--and why you might want to start adding organic items into your shopping cart and your family's menu as you attempt to live a greener life. Later that week I helped you figure out which foods you should choose when choosing organics. I wrote up a list of the Top 20 foods that absorb pesticides and, therefore, you should buy in organic form so that you are cutting down on your pesticide exposure.
For your memory's sake, here is that list again:
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Grapes (imported)
14. Green beans
15. Hot peppers
20. Grapes (domestic)
In a few days I'll get you started on your Week Eleven habit changes. Again, thanks for your patience during my illness.
Welcome to Green Boot Camp
Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).