My Quest for a Deeper Shade of Green... April/May Successes and Failures

My "green" goals for April/May were as follow:

1. Add potatoes to my list of organic switch-overs, joining spinach and apples. Goal met! This was probably the simplest goal of the month, as all it involved was buying a bag of organic potatoes and then making the victory sign as I walked out of the store. I've also continued to buy only non-chemically-treated spinach and apples, though what I really mean by that is that I haven't eaten apples much this month, since I haven't made it to the farmers market and they're too expensive for me at the grocery store. But oh well, I'll get on that soon. And since as a replacement I feasted for a couple of weeks on two pounds of gorgeous (and local!) organic strawberries, I think it's probably ok this time.

2. Buy and plant vegetable seedlings (and then keep them alive!) So far so good! Our baby squash, zucchini, peppers and herbs are all doing marvelously... too marvelously in fact. As you might recall, our method of tilling consisted of a shovel and aching muscles the next day (mostly belonging to my boyfriend, I'll be fair), so I will readily admit to the fact that we didn't break up enough ground for the number of plants we have. They are very, very crowded now... though still thriving.

3. Continue to cut down on the amount of paper goods used; purchase only recycled paper goods; do research on a frugal way of procuring cloth napkins. Done! I continue to purchase only recycled paper products (and got very excited when the penny item at Publix was Greenwise bath tissue...) and have gotten a lot better about not reaching for a paper towel when a dishrag will do just as well. I've also done some research on frugal sources for cloth napkins, and though there are some very pretty ones available on Etsy, I'll probably end up following Condo Blue's tutorial to make them myself. I'm actually kind of excited because I haven't used my sewing machine hardly at all in the year since I bought it, and this project should be a non-overwhelming segue back into it. I might even get fancy and add some embroidery, in the style of this vintage set... fun!

4. Use alternative transportation at least *four* times a week. Urg. Can we just skip this one? The humiliation I felt over my utter failure to reach this goal in the month of April was actually a big factor behind the two month gap in reporting... *sad face* But I'll make myself be honest now. In April, I used alternative transportation only 10 times... on average, 2.5 times a week. The more vindictive among my readers will be pleased to know that karma caught up with me one of those times that I surreptitiously drove instead of taking the shuttle, and socked me with a parking ticket for illegal parking. Last month I did do a little better again, and averaged a solid three times a week for alternative transportation, but still not up to par with the goal I had set originally. However the impact of my clean commutes is still adding up; according to the site I'm currently at 271 miles of vehicle travel eliminated, .14 tons of pollution kept out of the air, and $135 in savings, all since January. Not bad!

5. Always use canvas bags while shopping, except at the International Farmers Market (customers bringing in bags apparently makes them nervous) Welllll... "always" is sure a lot, isn't it? I did pretty well overall, but tended to forget when I went to the store with my boyfriend (since I keep my reusable bags in my car). Also, I acquired two cats since I set that goal, and now have an actual need for a certain number of plastic bags. I just switched to World's Best Litter though, and supposedly it's 100% flushable, so maybe I can shift towards bagless soon once again.

6. If adding any lamps in my new place, use only CFL light bulbs. I didn't add any lamps the last couple of months. So basically, this goal was easier to meet than #1... *pats self on back*

7. Find a new use for something that would otherwise be thrown away. To meet this goal, I used washed-out yogurt cups for little seedling planters in my (failed) attempt to start carrot seeds. I now know 1) that you can make much more effective and fully biodegradable planters out of old newspaper or out of cardboard toilet-paper rolls (thanks Urban Garden Hoe!), and 2) you have to plant carrot seeds straight into the ground due to the difficulty of transplanting and the sheer number of little plants requisite for any kind of harvest. Sigh. Yes, the carrot seedlings all died, and the yogurt cups ended up in the recycling bin after all, but the experiment was in good faith and counts as a goal met nonetheless. And next year I'll know!

New Green Goals for June:

1. Add carrots and strawberries to the list of pesticide-and-chemical-free produce I purchase (apples, spinach, and potatoes). Based on my habits of consumption and the updated Dirty Dozen, those two are logical additions and hopefully are seasonal now-ish, which will make it easier to get them locally.

2. Keep the garden alive! Investigate and utilize organic/frugal pesticides as needed. A question to my gardening friends out there... given that my plants are currently so crowded, should I go ahead and thin them out? Is overcrowding going to lead to more instances of disease, pests, etc? Is it too late to thin them out, and how should I best go about it without disrupting the ones I want to leave?

3. Using Condo Blues' tutorial, make cloth napkins and start using them regularly.

4. Use alternative transportation at least three times a week, and aim for four when possible. I think I'm going to let myself ease off on this one for a few months. I can have a hard time waking up in the morning and thus a hard time getting to the bus stop on time; it was starting to be a source of stress, and I think that's when I kind of gave up on it for a while in April. I'm going to lighten up a little here, especially since its starting to get hot and humid and I might choose to drive more just to make sure I'm work-presentable. For this month I'll continue to aim for three times a week, and then I'll reevaluate as necessary.

5. Help my dad find the easiest way to recycle a broken laptop. Anybody got ideas for this one? I haven't had much time for research, but if you know of any good electronics recycling methods let me know!

6. Consistently use canvas bags at the grocery store, CVS, etc. Leave canvas bags in the bf's car as well, for convenience.

7. Find a new use for something that would otherwise be thrown away.

That's all for now, and it's more then enough to keep me busy! What about you, any new environmentally-friendly goals or tips for the summer months? Send them my way, I'm all ears! ;)


  1. Dang, girl. i'm seriously impressed you are making me feel like a loser. I've been trying to use the reusable bags and we are working on changing the light bulbs. the alternate transportation thing is too big for me to tackle.

  2. Tip for recycling a broken laptop: Freecycle! I know, I know... who would want an old broken laptop? Probably somebody, you'd be surprised at what kind of junk some people really want. Of course you do run the risk of no one wanting it and having to figure out something else. And even if someone does come a pick it up you can't be sure that they won't throw it away once they get home, so it's not fool proof. BUT it is free and super easy so it's probably worth a try.

  3. You're so good. The only thing that I have started to do is bring my own bags to the stores to avoid the plastic bags. but that is about all I have the energy for! I would love to recycle but they don't pick it up here, and I refuse to add another step into my already too busy life. I know, bad, bad consumer!

  4. Way to go on your green goals!! You are doing so well. I really want to make some cloth napkins to start using. I don't sew so I'll have to do the no-sew method.

    Good luck with your June goals!


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