Since today is Earth Day, I’ve been thinking about the changes the kids and I have made over the past few years in an attempt to be more friendly to the earth.

Most of the changes, while deliberate, have been such gradual changes that the kids didn’t notice or complain about them.

A few of the changes we’ve made are:

1. No more paper towels. We use dish cloths to clean up messes and wash them with loads of towels.  We use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins at the dinner table.

2. We only run the dishwasher if it’s full.

3. We take shorter showers and keep a timer in the bathroom. When it dings that 5-7 minutes have past, it’s time to get out. Sometimes it’s more like 10 minutes with the girls, but it’s better than the 30 minute showers they took before I made them take shorter ones.

4. We recycle everything that our recycling center  accepts.

5. We bring home less plastic bags than before. We’re probably bringing in a 10th of what we used to have in the house. In the next year, I plan to have even less plastic bags in the house. I keep cloth bags and a cardboard box or two in the trunk in case I need them for groceries.

6. We turn of the water when brushing our teeth. Actually, we’ve been doing this for many years – since the kids watched Barney as toddlers and he taught them to turn off the water – so I won’t count this one.

6. As the lights have burned out, all have been replaced with CFL’s.

7. The car I drive is more fuel-efficient than any previous vehicle I’ve owned.

8. We buy produce and many other locally made products at the farmer’s market.

9. Before purchasing a book, I look first to see if I can find a used copy on paperbackswap.com, ebay, half.com or amazon.com.

10. We turn out the lights when leaving a room.

We have a lot of waste from J’s diabetes supplies.  It used to bother me that there is so much packaging  – the tubing, reservoirs, individually wrapped alcohol swabs and IV prep wipes, lancets, syringes, test strips, insulin bottles and packaging – but since she needs those supplies in order to survive, I will continue to gladly make sure that we have enough supplies on hand to get her through several months at a time.

The new change for this month: Turn off the computer at night instead of having it hibernate. I’m going to turn off the power strip each time we turn off the computer to make sure the printer, speakers, monitor, etc., all get turned off, too.

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