How "Green" Are You Really?
So you think you’re green?
When I moved to Seattle from Miami, Florida, I thought I was an environmentalist. I thought I was “green.” I thought I’d fit in perfectly with all the progressive Seattleites, and remain cooly impervious to the Seattle Freeze.
I was right in some ways but surprisingly wrong in others.
I was right in that I still don’t believe in the Seattle freeze. It’s just as freezy in Miami. But my idea of what constitutes a green lifestyle has leveled up since moving to Seattle, and I’ve come to realize that I have a ways to go to fully comprehend and jive with the far left-leftists of the PNW.
How green are YOU?
Here are some things I’ve done since moving to the PNW - where do you rank?
I’ve switched off plastic grocery bags entirely. I have about 5 reusable woven cloth ones, and I reuse paper bags until they bust, then recycle them.
I only buy cat litter in a refillable bucket.
I compost. In fact, curbside composting is required in Seattle lol. You can't compost in Miami unless you do it yourself.
I bring in a bag or container of my own and buy food in bulk – like olive oil, nuts, and grains. I don’t even think I could do this in Miami – no supermarkets sold in bulk when I checked.
I no longer procure coffee in paper, plastic or Styrofoam cups. What does this mean? I’ve got multiple thermoses at home and coffee mugs at work and home. If I go to a Starbucks (very rare), I get a refill.
I’ve been known to have Tupperware on me and use it to bring home leftovers from restaurants – turning down their take-home boxes. Yeah I’m that lady now.
I try to not use plastic sandwich bags, but Tupperware instead. There are also awesome “green” sandwich bags that are non-plastic and reusable, washable, and sealable.
I shop thrift or, better yet, Buy Nothing. There’s nothing like free clothes and stuff off Facebook from your neighbors to make you feel like you’re helping someone out by taking their unwanted stuff, avoiding creating a demand for new products and packaging on a new mail order item, AND getting a great deal (because it’s free).
I don’t eat out like I used to. I make my own meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and bring them to work. I might eat out 1 – 2x a week, tops.
I have guilt for banking with Chase, because, you know, Keystone XL. Next steps: divest. Switch to a local credit union.
Photo cred: Rainforest Action Network
I started buying happy eggs. (And no, I haven't gone vegan...I love cheese too much). I’ve learned to care much more about the condition of the chickens that lay the eggs I eat – and that I eat. I’ve learned that the color, taste, and outcomes for the environment are all better when you purchase eggs from pasture raised chickens on local family farms – aka, not CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
I switched to organic fruit and produce. When I lived in Miami I cared about organics but didn’t care to spend extra on them. With all that I’ve learned about pesticides and toxicity, including the hazards of pesticide drift and the collapse of the worlds bee colonies, I now stick to organics most of the time.
I switched to wild-caught fish. Once in Seattle, I learned of the terrible conditions and pollution that result from factory farm raised, non-native fish – in netpens. I actually worked with folks to help pass the Atlantic salmon netpen ban in Washington. I now only buy wild-caught Alaskan or Washington salmon.
I stopped drinking cows’ milk (I drink almond milk only, and not a lot of it) because the way we treat dairy cows is awful.
I have dramatically cut back on my red meat intake. I was never big into cooking red meat at home and have generally stuck to fish or chicken when preparing food at home, but now I’m looking to only purchase happy meat. I’m currently seeking the best butcher shop King County where I can find pasture raised, humanely treated and environmentally sustainable animal products - including cheese. (If you have suggestions, let me know! I’ve got 3 on my list to check out.)
In Miami, I was lucky enough to be close enough to work to walk or bike. I’m doing that again in Seattle – where the weather is, on average, 40 degrees colder pretty much every day of the year, and rainy at least ¾ of the year. A new parking policy at work incentivizes me so I'm biking or walking 80% of my workdays or more. That’s some next level sh*t right there.
I switched off paper towels, napkins and tissues and use reusable cotton napkins (they serve a dual-function as a handkerchief!)
I keep mason and other glass jars after I purchase a sauce or a jarred product, and reuse them as glassware, vases, and containers for buying in bulk.
I use cloth towels for cleaning floors, windows, dusting, and mopping – instead of disposable pads or paper towels.
Use reusable razors, not disposable.
In fact, use pretty much reusable everything, if you can.
I used to hike, but now I HIKE. PNW hiking is not east-coast hiking. In Florida, I probably averaged 5 or 6 miles – in Washington I’ve done up to 12. And sorry, east-coasters, but ya’ll ain’t got real mountains like we do. I’ve hiked to the top of Mt. St. Helens at 8,366 feet. The elevation in Florida is, on average, 6 feet – and apparently, a place called Hobe Mountain is the highest point in South Florida: at 86 feet above sea level (and I’ve never heard of it). Even when I solo-hiked Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the highest mountain on the East Coast, that was 6,288 feet in elevation.
Mt. St. Helens: Conquered!
I recycle or give away my unwanted clothing and household items.
I make sure to bring old/dead batteries, electronics and lightbulbs to the appropriate recycling facilities. These products can’t be thrown away.
While I’ve made a lot of changes, there are many more than can be implemented to go even greener, cleaner, and kinder!
Take public transportation whenever possible.
Switch to fair-trade only chocolate, coffee, and other food products
Switch to fair-trade, ethical and sustainable clothing, shoes and accessories. AKA non-child-slave-labor made, non-factory made, fair wage, natural cotton clothing.
Install a raingarden, rain barrel, or other green and low-impact infrastructure on your property (if you own). These features help filter rainwater to prevent pollution from getting into local streams and waterways, and can also provide a source of drinking water.
Switch to low-flush toilets, and low energy consumption lightbulbs and electronics.
Air dry your clothes.
Make sure your home is well sealed and energy efficient (no leaks around doors and windows). Solar panels are a great touch as well!
Switch to organic products, and non-toxic household cleaning products where possible.
So...do you still think you're GREEN? What other green habits have you adopted?