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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Pocketbook Environmentalist

Last week I discussed my ambivalence about riding my bike to work. It was fairly nice yesterday, but again, I didn't ride to work. I had to return 40lbs of library books. I had a televised commission meeting until 7:30pm, and needed to look presentable. I drove. 

The truth is, I'm really a "Pocketbook Environmentalist." If "being green" benefits my bottom line, or reduces our energy consumption and thus bill, or tastes better, I'm for it. For example:

Now that it's not a frozen pile of dirt, I've begun adding kitchen scraps to the compost pile. I'm probably not "doing it right" but whatever. If we have leftover egg shells, too-old spinach, or anything not meat, I'll dig a hole in the compost pile and bury it. This adds nutrients to the compost, which will be recycled into the garden and landscape beds and produce better flowers and edibles. It positively effects my wallet by letting us keep the smaller garbage bin. 

I farm/ garden, mostly for the pleasure of it. I like cutting flowers from my yard and having fresh arrangements in the house. I like to give them to friends and take them to work. There's no way I could afford huge bouquets every week! And it also reduces the environmental impacts of shipping in exotic flowers for my pleasure.

I "farm" because I like fresh vegetables, to the point of disdaining tomatoes for 10 months of they year because they aren't fresh. Tomatoes just taste so much better right off of the vine! Same for asparagus, sugar snap peas, potatoes, corn... everything. Growing it at home benefits our budget; a $1.27 pack of seeds is much cheaper than buying 15 heads of lettuce. And it means that we don't throw out half a head of lettuce a week. It's great to run out to the garden and snip chives, basil or cilantro for dinner. We usually don't need these herbs in huge quantities, so having just a bit of them available saves us from buying, then throwing out, a bunch of fresh cilantro every time we make fajitas. Of course, growing these at home removes the pesticides, fertilizers, packaging and energy consumption related to transportation from the environmental cycle. 
Plants, "starting" on the front porch, and pillowcases drying in the sunshine.

We also hang most of our clothes to dry after a short spin in the dryer to remove wrinkles. This is a time-tested lesson from my momma. It means you usually don't have to iron things, unless you want them to look really crisp. It also means you run the dryer for 10 minutes instead of 55, thus saving you money (and energy). Our laundry area has a rod useful for hanging shirts and it's usual to see jeans and trousers hanging from the trim work in our hallway. I want to put up a clothesline in the back yard this summer to be able to dry things more regularly. I strung one up between the poles in our kitchen porch this weekend, in the 40 degree sunshine, but the porch roof throws the area into shade by noon and the house protects the area from wind. It took a while to dry our duvet cover, sheets, shams and pillowcases, but 4 hours in the sunshine is a lot cheaper than an hour and a half in the dryer. 
An impromptu clothesline. 

Are there things I feel "environmental guilt" over? Certainly. We could do a better job of recycling our plastics and paper. We should do a better job. You'll note I didn't say that we should recycle our glass, as doing so would have sent DJ into an apoplectic fit. Here's the deal with glass recycling for us in Bozeman: There is a glass crusher in Livingston, then they ship it to Seattle for reuse. By the time that I drive my glass to Livingston, then they ship it to Seattle for reuse, we've used more carbon fuel to "recycle" the glass than it would to produce new glass. Our market is too small for effective glass recycling, so I toss my glass without remorse. 

Except for the beer bottles. My husband home-brews; we can always use beer bottles. 


  1. We're the same way. If it fits my wallet and lifestyle, I'm all about going greener. Having a clothesline is something I'd like to do...but do you worry about bugs getting on your clothes? We have so many ladybugs and spiders around here. thoughts?

  2. @Nodak- I've not had a problem with bugs (yet). Bozeman's fairly bug-free. I do usually shake out items pretty briskly before I take them back inside though. (EEWWW SPIIIIIDERS!)