Monday, July 30, 2007

Paper or Plastic? .... Neither perhaps?

As you get ready to pay for your groceries, you often get one of several questions
Which do you choose? On one hand, plastic will end up in landfills, but it takes more water and energy to produce the paper bag. But it can be reused more easily for other things, and finally recycled to make new paper. The grocery store has largely answered the question for you, the plastic bag is far cheaper, and has captured 80 % of the market. But where we live there isn't a good recycling option for plastic bags, and you can only use so many to line trash bins.

But there is another option: bring your own bags. Even though we don't experience the rush of paying $15 for a bag that you can't get a hold of anyway, we can still participate. We have at least at two local grocery stores, and the brilliant part is that the store gives $.05 rebate per bag - not a lot, but it all adds up (8 bags per week, for 50 weeks is $20). If you bring sturdy canvas bags you can reuse them hundreds of times. Keep them in the car between grocery trips so they're always available.

We also keep a small cooler in the trunk of the car to hold the most delicate frozen items on hot days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Green Energy

One of the larger decisions we made earlier this year as a response to the climate changes was to switch our electricity use to renewable energy. Our neighborhood covenants prohibit setting up solar panels and windmills, so we opted to use our energy company's option of buying blocks of renewable energy. The program is called NatureWise and lets you buy electricity in blocks of 100kWh at $1 per block per month in addition to the regular charge.

We downloaded our 2-year history of electricity usage from Wisconsin Public Service's (WPS) web site and calculated that we averaged about 900 kWh per month, so we signed up for 9 blocks, making our entire electricity usage renewable for $9/month, and cutting our carbon emissions by 4,644 kg (10,238 lbs) CO2 per year.

The program works by committing WPS to purchasing the blocks of electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar etc) to be added to the grid, thereby lowering the amount of fossil fuels WPS uses to generate electricity. The specific electricity coming to our house hasn't changed and comes from whatever source is closest (or however the electricity distribution works...).

Welcome to Green-Savvy

So we decided to start a blog to write about how people living in typical suburban America can make more sustainable, eco-friendly choices in their everyday lives.

We live in Oshkosh, WI on a reasonably large lot (1/3 acre), but have no public transportation, and need two cars just to get by. However, we garden, do a lot of canning, belong to a CSA, and generally try to do a lot of things for the environment. We're not perfect, but we try to improve and do as much as we can. We hope this blog can help others learn from us, and that it will help us stay focused on being as earth-friendly as possible.