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Thread: What little things do you do to help the environment?

  1. #1

    What little things do you do to help the environment?

    Here's a thread where we can post some of the everyday choices we make that have a positive impact on the environment. The intention is not to self-righteously brag or "one-up" each other, but to hopefully to inspire each other and give them ideas that'll help make a difference in the world we live in.
    Here's mine:
    *I recycle whenever possible
    *I don't use plastic store bags when I'm only buying one or two items that I can easily carry loose
    *I do my best to conserve water and energy at home
    *I never throw anything away that has some use left in it
    *I LOVE shopping at thrift stores and used book stores, it's like a treasure hunt, 'cause I never know what I'm gonna find!
    *I try to use as little artificially scented products as possible
    *I try to only buy online when it's absolutely necessary(i.e., my tail), because it's a much lower carbon footprint to buy locally. As an avid doll collector, this means most of my dollies come from doll shows and thrift stores, which is usually cheaper than eBay anyway, so it's a win-win situation for my budget and the planet!
    *I check a lot more books out from the library than I buy
    *I'm on a strict seafood-free diet, which feels natural to me as someone who loves sea creatures so much that eating them is about as appealing to me as eating a dog or cat, but hey, not that there's anything wrong with a mer who considers fish food as well as friends
    *I always snip six-pack rings!
    *I would never wear fur!
    *At Christmastime, I've reused some of the same present bags and bows over and over for years and years
    Last edited by Princess Kae-Leah; 07-20-2011 at 04:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    1. Reduce- not as easy as it sounds! It means looking at something and really thinking about whether or not I'll use it enough or if I have something all ready at home that will do the trick.

    2. Rotating closet- whenever I buy something new I have to give away or donate something old. I have an exact number I keep and this also helps with reducing because then I only buy clothing if I reaaalllly want it or need it.

    3. No bottled water. I only ever use it if I 100% have no other choice. I have water filters and re-usable water bottles. Even though I would most certainly recycle water bottles if I were to use them, water privatization is still an issue.

    4. All natural cleaning products- I make them whenever I can out of vinegar and baking soda and club soda etc but when I have to buy something I go for the expensive stuff that's plant based, no toxins, and breaks down easily with no smell.

    5. No dryer sheets! don't compost well, release a lot of toxins and smelly! I use reusable dryer balls or tinfoil!

    6. sorting waste. We have a system that's mandatory in my province. Organic waste goes in the green bin, everything else gets recycled. All that typically ends up in the garbage is plastics that can't be recycled and little odds and ends.

    7. I use reusable bags as often as I can think to- I need to keep some in the car. When I end up with plastic bags I make sure to use them lots and then RECYCLE them.

    8. I turn the lights off obsessively and we use energy saving bulbs or LEDs

    9. I wear extra clothes and blankets in the winter to use less heat, I keep curtains closed during the summer to keep rooms cooler. Rarely use air conditioning in the car

    10. Public transit for the win!

    11. I give away things I don't use anymore to daycares, people who'd like and use them, and donation drives

    12. I buy ebooks a lot because there is no factory waste from making a book, no carbon from transporting it, and they're cheaper! I only buy books I know I will read and love for the rest of my life.

    13. I keep odds and ends for daycares to use for crafts

    14. I turn old clothes, bedding, and other fabrics into rags!


    Obviously this doesnt include the stuff I do as Raina, just personal stuff at home

  3. #3
    I do most of the things listed (waterbottle, shopping, etc), so I'm only going to include things I don't see on the list already.

    - I only use organic soap, shampoo, and conditioner
    - I bring my own bags for shopping (compared to not using any bags if it's something small as Kae-Leah suggested)
    - I save envelopes and use them as scrap paper, and I also save old assignments/print outs for the same thing
    - It costs a little more, but I try my best not to buy refined/processed foods, and usually buy from the Farmer's Market or the co-op
    - I donate things every year instead of throwing them out
    - My printer's default settings are "fast draft/fast print" and in "greyscale" to save on ink
    - I also don't throw away ink cartridges, but buy refills from ebay. Cheaper and better for the environment!
    - I plant something every birthday
    - I participate in earth hour and beach clean ups
    - I stay away from products that use styrofoam, and I don't buy disposables unless it's absolutely necessary
    - I don't do this since I usually live in the dorms but, washing dishes by hand is worse for the environment than getting it done by machine, because you use more water. Same thing for car washes except if you did it at home you can cause chemical runoff
    - I don't use straws
    - I do go vegetarian once a week (tried to do vegan, but it's too difficult at college)
    - I don't use phone books (does anyone still?)
    - Not a fan of seafood
    - I research the hell out of materials I use in crafts, art, and my inventions (engineering major) - specifically in toxicity, water leaching, and air quality
    - I also don't drink milk (but I'm not dairy free)
    - I don't take things from the ocean, like shells, or shark teeth. I don't even buy the (real) shells and wares from touristy places unless I know for sure where they are from, how they are collected, and if it's environmentally friendly. So many people don't understand how these things are extracted.
    - I will also never buy an animal from a pet shop (unless it's fish, and it's not from the illegal aquarium trade), and well always opt to adopt or foster.
    - I volunteer/intern/get jobs that let me educate people or work in some way to help the environment (I've worked for the Smithsonian, NOAA, Humpback Whale Sanctuary, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots, etc).
    - I wrap presents in recycled newspaper that I grab from around campus (I read my own news online)

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  4. #4
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    I don't take things from the ocean, like shells, or shark teeth. I don't even buy the (real) shells and wares from touristy places unless I know for sure where they are from, how they are collected, and if it's environmentally friendly. So many people don't understand how these things are extracted.
    tell me more!!!

  5. #5
    Oh, something else, I save all the boxes/packaging when I acquire a doll new or mint-in-box, so they're not rotting in a landfill somewhere. Slightly off-topic, but I'm curious, what are you guys' thoughts on collectibles? I know the idea of collecting sometimes gets a bad rap among eco-minded folks because, let's face it, nobody NEEDS dolls or other collectibles to survive, but I do try to have the smallest footprint possible in my dolly collecting, I do genuinely enjoy all my dolls, and for me it's never about "investment" or status symbol, I like to think of myself as some kind of amateur historian or museum curator, collecting and preserving icons of pop culture, as well as something of a rescuer, as every doll I buy from a thrift store or doll show had the potential of being in a landfill, and it absolutely breaks my heart when I think of all the wonderful dolls and toys left to slowly rot into plastic particles in dumps. I would NEVER sell or give away most of my dolls, the very idea makes me feel kinda violated as I'm so sentimentally attached to them even though yes I'm aware they're just inanimate objects, but if I didn't truly love a doll, I wouldn't buy it.
    Last edited by Princess Kae-Leah; 07-20-2011 at 06:58 PM.

  6. #6
    I just found a great website for anyone with even the slightest interest in being Green...http://practicallygreen.com
    I took their extensive and excellent "how green are you quiz" and scored Gold in the stuff category and Bronze in both Energy and Water. If you haven't already, I recommend taking their quiz yourselves, for it will help you see if you're really doing your part or not.

  7. #7
    Meh. I got "pretty green". Most of the options just don't apply to me because I live in the dorm rooms most of the year and I don't drive while I'm in college. The quiz didn't take that into account (no use of car at all).
    "SeaSparkles" "Spindrift" "Enakai" "Cuddlefish" "Confused"
    Professionally performing as Enakai Fairyfish

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  8. #8
    Sorry about that Spindrift! I know no online quiz is perfect, but, hey, Pretty Green is not that bad!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by AniaR View Post
    tell me more!!!
    I'm not that great at explaining, so here are some copy/pastes:

    Just because you can find it in a shopping area, doesn't mean that it's ethical or even legal to purchase and take home. Realistically, the average tourist doesn't know what the laws are. Here is a handy guideline: if the souvenirs look like they have been removed directly from their native habitat, their sale is probably illegal. A wild animal skin or animal parts cannot be legally sold in Thailand. An orchid plant cannot be legally sold. An orchid in a sealed bottle (a sterile environment), sold with a certificate declaring it can be exported, is a hybrid and safe to buy. Wild birds cannot be legally sold. Wild birds and orchids can be legally enjoyed; that is one purpose of PaddleAsia trips.
    Countries in Southeast Asia have many great laws prohibiting the sales or purchase of endangered plants, insects, and animals. If they don't catch you over here with your new souvenirs, your home country might upon your arrival. It's something to consider before purchasing.


    In addition to the legal ramifications, there are basic economic effects. It comes down to supply and demand. If you buy something, the vendor thinks that others would want the same item. Even buying something as seemingly innocent as small dried seahorses can have far-reaching effects on the ecosystem. All ecosystems are designed to interact; removing one element can cause a domino affect throughout other species. Please, Think before buying!

    Seashells don't get replaced right away. It takes time to grow a big shell. The sheer numbers are enough to deplete an area's shell-life for a long time. It is thusly illegal to sell seashells from the waters of Thailand, yet they are available in shops. Where do they come from? They mostly come from Indonesia. Many of the shells in Thailand's waters have long disappeared due to the tourists of the past.

    There is nothing wrong with taking the occasional empty shell from a beach as long as the live animal isn't still living in the shell. It's the mass-market type of shell collecting, whereby the live animal is yanked out of its housing, and left to die in the sun in most cases, that's the problem.

    [Source]

    Empty shells are important... Firstly, they act as a home for hermit crabs. As the crab grows it needs to find a new shell to move in to, and I have found naked hermit crabs walking around the beach. Unable to find an empty shell large enough, these crabs eventually die as their body is soft, vulnerable to predators and dessication (drying out in the sun).
    Secondly, the shells are actually part of chemical cycles in the ocean. It sounds crazy, but shell collecting is so huge nowadays, that oceanographers have started looking in to what effect shell collecting might have on ocean acidification!




    This is a great page on people who collect seashells: http://www.seashell-collector.com/be...searching.html

    This is a pretty good list of all things you should avoid buying:

    http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw_united_kingdom/join_campaigns/fight_illegal_wildlife_trade/think_twice_-_dont_buy_wildlife_souvenirs/shortcut_of_which_animal_souvenirs_should_you_avoi d.php

    They also have a petition or agreement you can sign to pledge to never buy those products, if you are interested.

    Tortoiseshell "Tortoiseshell" is the term commonly used for sea turtle shells, which are frequently turned into souvenirs such as sunglasses, hair slides and jewelry. The beautiful shell of the hawksbill turtle (bekko) is particularly sought after. International trade in the products of all marine turtles is illegal. Yet they are still widely available in resorts all over the world.




    Seahorses The primary uses for seahorses are traditional medicines, souvenirs and curios (dried trade), and trade as aquarium pets (live trade). The global trade in dried seahorses exceeded 24.5 million individuals in 2000. Many hundreds of thousands were also caught that year to supply the expanding pet trade.




    Corals Corals are tiny animals that live together in large colonies. They are commonly harvested for souvenirs, especially black, red, bush, hump, finger and lace corals. Corals play an essential role in shallow water reef ecosystems by providing food and shelter for thousands of other species. Many species of corals are protected, with trade either regulated or strictly prohibited.




    Seashells Often for sale in a variety of beautiful colours and sizes, seashells are harvested in great quantities. This has pushed some into the endangered zone - especially large ones such as the Queen conch or the giant clam which take many decades to grow. You cannot bring seashells home with you without export and import permits.



    Shark's Teeth Sharks' teeth fashioned into pendants or mounted jaws are common in many coastal resorts around the world. More than 100 million sharks are killed each year. The increasing trade in shark souvenirs is pushing threatened species closer to extinction. Three species of shark now require export and import permits (basking shark, great white and whale shark).


    "SeaSparkles" "Spindrift" "Enakai" "Cuddlefish" "Confused"
    Professionally performing as Enakai Fairyfish

    Enakai Fairyfish: FB | IG

  10. #10
    @Kae-Leah: Hah, no problem. It still came up with some pretty good ideas.
    "SeaSparkles" "Spindrift" "Enakai" "Cuddlefish" "Confused"
    Professionally performing as Enakai Fairyfish

    Enakai Fairyfish: FB | IG

  11. #11
    Re: Raina's list:
    #1 and 2-I really only buy new clothes and shoes(I think I only have like three pairs of shoes right now, if that! Imelda Marcos I am not, hehe!) if I genuinely need it or really want it baaaad too, though honestly for me this has less to do with the environment than it has to do with saving money for my favorite hobbies and interests-doll collecting, cosplaying/mermaiding, and trips to The Happiest Place On Earth, Disneyland! I still wear clothes all the time that I bought years ago if they still fit and are in good shape, though I don't go through my closet and donate stuff that doesn't fit any more nearly as often as I probably should.

    #3-I must confess that I still drink bottled water, but I ALWAYS recycle my bottles and luckily my area has a pretty good recycling program. Here's a tip: if one must have bottled water, the best way to go if possible is Safeway's Refreshe brand, which fairly recently switched to these new bottles that are more easily recycled and they claim use a million less pounds of plastic per year compared to the old bottles. I really need to look into investing in a water filter, though.

    #6-My area has a program like that too, we're supposed to divide everything into three categories: trash, recyclables, and yard waste/compostables. I go all out making sure I sort everything correctly, and boy, it sure is a lot of work sometimes, but doesn't it make you feel good?

    #11-I gotta say, I'm a bit of a hoarder/collector by nature. I don't give stuff away very often, cause I tend to develop strong sentimental attachments to worldly possessions, and I've given stuff away in the past and later regretted it, because you never really know when something may come in handy in the future.

    #12-I don't have an e-reader, but I'm a big library patron. I try not to buy new books either unless I think I'd really enjoy them a lot, and not just read it once and never touch it again. I buy lots of used books from thrift stores and used book stores though, and once in a great while from eBay, I eagerly collect vintage '80s guilty-pleasure YA books like Sweet Valley High, and my absolute favorite series of all time, the Sunfire historical romances.

    #14-My family has always done that too!
    Last edited by Princess Kae-Leah; 07-22-2011 at 06:22 PM.

  12. #12
    Re: Spindrift's list:
    - I stay away from products that use styrofoam, and I don't buy disposables unless it's absolutely necessary

    Oh, I HATE styrofoam! I always thought it looked like the ugly and evil love child of plastic and cardboard, and it makes the worst annoying sound in the universe when squished, not to mention all its environmental problems. Seriously, it should be banned! But I'm a total hypocrite since I still sometimes buy processed foods packaged in it, namely one of my favorite foods in the world, Instant Lunch ramen. I'm like the pickiest eater on the planet(another Aspie trait showing it's ugly head!), so I've tried other brands and it's just not the same to me. I so wish they would switch to packaging it in, say, recycled cardboard or plastic, because I feel like I've committed a major eco-sin every time I buy it and eat it.

    - I don't use straws

    I still use straws because for me, it's actually kind of a need because I have poor fine motor skills due to Asperger's Syndrome and would always be spilling liquids on myself if I didn't use them, but I try to reuse them the best I can.

    - I also don't drink milk (but I'm not dairy free)

    I've been using Silk Light soymilk on my breakfast cereal lately instead of dairy milk, and I think I'm in love! It actually tastes better than cow's milk to me, it's better for me(luckily I'm not allergic to soy!), and it's better for the environment, as the dairy industry has so many issues. I could never go totally dairy-free either, since if I knew absolutely nothing about nutrition, I could probably live on pizza and ice cream!

    Re: both Raina and Spindrift:
    -reusable bags, etc., as well as repurposed gift-wrapping materials

    Whenever I use plastic store bags, I always bring them back to the store to recycle them. I have some canvas reusable bags, but goodness, are they ever easy to forget if you don't keep them handy in the car, or sometimes you just don't have enough when you go grocery shopping, so you end up with a combination of plastic and canvas bags!
    BTW, has anyone else noticed how some places are being more eco-responsible with their single-use plastic bags by using recycled plastic? If you gals and guys are ever in Disneyland, I recommend not hesitating to accept one of their pretty plastic bags with the lovely picture of the Castle on it, as it's made from 100% recycled plastic and is so pretty it's great to reuse for a lot of purposes, such as a present bag or just to store stuff around the house. I couldn't believe it when I first say it, as I never saw a single-use bag made from all recycled plastic before, as Mickey would say "golly gee, isn't that swell?" The Disney Stores also have an adorable bag made from 75% recycled plastic with all these pictures of vintage Mickey Mouse comic strips on it that especially works great as a repurposed present bag, especially for kids' gifts or if you're giving someone a Disney-themed gift.
    Last edited by Princess Kae-Leah; 07-22-2011 at 06:40 PM.

  13. #13
    Some idiot spilled styrofoam over my college's front lawn and storm drain once. I spent a good hour picking up all the pieces I could find. Annndd.... I was the only one doing it. People can be so... disappointing.
    "SeaSparkles" "Spindrift" "Enakai" "Cuddlefish" "Confused"
    Professionally performing as Enakai Fairyfish

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  14. #14
    Oh, that's awful Spindrift! I hate litter so much, it makes me think of this educational Disney cartoon that was on one of the Donald Duck Disney Treasures DVD set that came out a few years back that had this catchy little song that went something like "litterbug, litterbug, shame on you, look at the horrible things you do! Litterbug, litterbug, where's your pride, making a mess of the country side!". Now whenever I pick up litter, I usually find myself singing that stupid song, hehe.

  15. #15
    Also, I use those cute squiggly little eco-friendly lightbulbs in my home, I'm pretty sure all my appliances are EnergyStar-certified, and I'm not once to "keep up with the Joneses" when it comes to technology, I still have an old standard-definition TV from the '90s and I don't plan on replacing it with a shiny new flat-screen HDTV until it truly no longer works any more. I probably won't even buy an Ipod or Blu-Ray player until I don't have a choice because CDs(I know, MP3 files are actually more eco than traditional music formats, but I guess I'm just an old-fashioned kinda gal when it comes to technology!) and regular DVDs become obsolete. I still love VHS tapes, and my goodness are they dirt cheap at thrift stores!

  16. #16
    I always loved this song from Rocko's Modern Life:




    Lets see. I:
    - Recycle whenever possible.
    I hate whenever they don't label small things with what recycle number because I like to do everything possible, big and small. I'll even take home things of my own and others as well (like the receipts at self check out lines) to recycle at home.
    - Reduce amounts of one use plastics I use like ziplocks, cling wrap, ect
    - Use reusable grocery bags and mesh bags for produce
    - Decline plastic bags for things I can carry
    - Reuse one use plastics whenever possible. I'm known for washing and reusing plastic silverware, straws, and even zip lock bags.
    - If I see lots of recycleables in the dumpster I'll get them out and put them in the recycling dumpster myself (People piss me off, btw. NO EXCUSE in CA NOT to recycle!)
    - Unplug chargers and turn off multi plugs when not in use.
    - Use Freecycle to get furniture and other things I need if at all possible. Everything in my apartment furniture wise is second hand, and free, besides the bed.
    - Don't use bottled water unless I have no other choice (I think it tastes like plastic anyway)- instead I use a water filter and my awesome camelback waterbottle. I swear that thing makes drinking water easy- highly recommended for a reusable bottle!
    - Save electronic waste (including batteries) until I have enough to make a trip to the specialty recycling plant for it
    -Buy second hand books if possible and donate unwanted ones
    - Love thrift shopping for clothing and donate unwanted ones also
    - Buy bulk containers and fill up smaller reused containers for individual sizes (like Diet Coke, my on the go life force), instead of buying individual bottles or cans all the time
    - To write notes or make lists I use envelopes or backs of spam letters
    - Sign up for electronic billing whenever possible to save paper
    - Get creative with reusing things (like odds and ends for crafts or modifying old clothing)
    - Working to reduce how often I eat meat (it's complicated with my body/medical issues)
    - Buy eggs from a local cage free farm
    - When I print something I use the front and back of each piece of paper (and use recycled paper)
    - Tear paper towels/baby wipes/ect into pieces as big as I need instead of using the whole thing for something small, and reuse if possible.
    - Try and use towels/sponges rather than one use paper towels/cotton balls/ect when I can
    - Use an actual mop instead of one of a swiffer (unless a bunch of raw meat was dropped on the floor and I need a quick wipe up with antibacterial solution- it's a germaphobe thing)

    I'm glad we did this! I've gotten ideas already There are a few things I'm working on right now. It's better to transition slowly and steady instead of trying to throw it in all at once, especially for people who need to get use to change. But I'm working on it! I'm looking at cleaning products next. I get the green all purpose but I need some better eco friendly specific type cleaners. I'd like to get a composer, but last time I check they only allowed "approved" ones, and the approved ones are expensive (few hundred). They are trying to do more green things here lately so they may have changed their stance on it, but they tend to be uptight about what you can and can't have on your porch.


    One thing that I like to remind people is that yes, recycling is better than nothing, but it still takes a lot of energy to recycle, and it's not as efficient as people think. It's something that helps, but it's not the magical cure all that everyone thinks it is. That's why reducing and reusing come before recycling. They're harder, but they're a lot more important.

  17. #17
    @Winged Mermaid, yes, I know recycling is by no means a perfect solution to all our problems! So many things, mainly plastics, aren't even recyclable, and many places still have pretty bad recycling problems where a lot of stuff ends up in landfills anyway and like you say it does take up energy. I'm so glad that here in the Seattle area we have a pretty good curbside recycling program(although still I wish more plastics could be recycled) with a high participation rate, as well as curbside compostables/yard waste collection.

  18. #18
    i have a cool one: beeswax candles instead of parafin(spelling?).
    come find Mermaid-Odette on facebook!
    my website is here
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