Everyday Earth Day To-Do List

Everybody I know is quite thrifty and green, and I try to do my part!

Here are the big-ticket things I’ve done to amp it up:

  • Moved back to my hometown where people are proud to be frugal (it makes life so much easier when no one is trying to keep up with the Joneses)
  • Bought a small house. It is 900 sq ft with a finished lower level = 1800 sq ft. Abundant! This is considered a starter home. It was great for our family of 3 and continues to be suitable for us now as empty-nesters. In fact, it has more space than we need!
  • Downsized from a mini-van to a subcompact AWD hatchback. Next time I may give up the AWD and just buy snow tires. AWD adds to the weight of the vehicle and uses more fuel year-round.
  • Installed programmable thermostats
  • Installed low-flow toilets
  • Gradually replaced all major appliances with Energy Star versions

And, correspondingly:

  • Take care of house and car maintenance so they last as long as possible
  • Do product research and buy things that are built to last
  • No trendy home decor that needs to be replaced in a season or two
  • Reduced tolerance for non-functional items and clutter, such as ornaments and collectibles

And here are the everyday practices that have become engrained:

  • Prepare meal plans and shop from a grocery list – eliminates food waste
  • Make meals and snacks from scratch – reduces amount of packaging purchased
  • Buy local and in season as much as possible – reduces food transport
  • Bring reusable bags for groceries, produce and other shopping
  • Recycle all paper, plastic, metal and glass
  • Use municipal curbside composting program
  • Lawn herbicides and pesticides are illegal here; mulch or compost all grass trimmings
  • Use pine cat litter
  • Commute with spouse to take one car; rearrange our schedules to accommodate this
  • Don’t idle car while waiting for each other
  • Group errands to require only one car trip
  • Use cloth napkins & cloth cleaning rags rather than paper or disposables
  • Use only one locally-made cleaning product made with sodium carbonate (washing soda)
  • Use refillable pens, razors, etc
  • Bring refillable coffee mug everywhere
  • Use CF light bulbs
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Use power bars to turn off small electronics at night
  • Clean and maintain stuff so it will last, e.g. shoes, shovels, microwave oven, printer
  • Use public library  – obviously, since I work in one 🙂
  • Buy downloadable music and movies instead of CDs and DVDs
  • Borrow items needed rarely, e.g. cake pans, power washer
  • Buy used goods at second-hand stores and flea markets (I like vintage kitchen ware)
  • Wear more classic clothes and footwear that will last for several years (style icon I am not)
  • Challenge ourselves to bring the power and water bills down

On the other hand, here are the things I have not done:

  • Bought a house within walking distance of work, in case job changes
  • Become a one-car family. Second car is used sparingly but not ready to give it up. One of the cars is also used on the job.
  • Bought a hybrid vehicle. Our electricity is coal-generated, so what’s the point?
  • Used public transportation – would more than double our commute time
  • Got rid of lawn or bought a rechargeable battery mower: property is too big. However, I use a mulcher-mower, and weeds are tolerated!
  • Turned the heat down when we are home – programmable thermostat takes care of the hours we are out. I am willing to wear two heavy layers and have a “TV blanket,” but if still cold: hike the heat!
  • Given up clothes dryer – two reasons: changeable/perpetually damp weather, and time involved (clothes dry slowly in damp weather, and must stay home in case weather changes and clothes need to be rescued)
  • Planted vegetable garden
  • Made own cleaning products
  • Given up eating meat – but will be trying this for a month starting mid-May
and finally:
  • Let the government know how I feel: I have not been telling my elected officials what I think of environmental policy and law, as a concerned citizen. This is my top action item!

Illustration credit: hamilton.ca (City of Hamilton ON Public Works)


  1. SarahN

    Re:Dryer for clothes – if you’re hiking the heat (and it’s a damp day) your clothes can dry on racks indoors. Even when the heat is off, the residual dryness and heat inside will dry your clothes. I don’t have heating, and in a rainy week, I can get clothes dry in a day or two (I don’t own a dryer, figure if it’s ever that desperate I can go to one of 4 laudromats within a block or two of where I live!!)

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