A 2017 Earth Day Checkup

A 2017 Earth Day Checkup

Earth Day was this weekend. To celebrate, Florin’s school passed out garbage bags to kick off next week’s city-wide clean up (my favorite time of year… all the trash that was hiding in all that snow gets picked up!). Each year, I perform a personal Earth Day Checkup. We could all be doing better protecting the environment, but every year, I like to celebrate the things I am doing, note my own improvements, and come up with something I can improve upon.

Earth Day Checkup: The Good

  • Growing Food – We’re pretty good at taking advantage of our short growing season. We got started a bit late this year, but we’ve now got some arugula, basil, and tomatoes starting in our window. (We can’t move plants outside until June 1). When it’s time, we will plant zucchini, carrots, and peas outside. Our raspberries continue to take over the garden and we let them.
  • Sourcing Food – I think it’s important for my kids to understand where food comes from (and not just the store). Partly because of this, my kids are aware we grind our wheat into flour and they help crack our oat groats into our version of “steel-cut.” We also catch enough salmon each year to eat salmon weekly. Our kids are very involved in that process. Though we are not hunters, we try to eat other meats sparingly.
  • Using Fabric Grocery Bags – This is a development that I’m happy to see has caught on. The actual materials may not save the environment, but re-using the same bags over and over is where the environmental benefit is seen. Our bags have all been used many, many times.
  • Recycling – Getting recycle bins in our neighborhood is actually how I become HOA president. I showed up at a meeting and was nominated and voted in immediately. We are very good about recycling everything we can.
  • Drinking Tap Water – Hard to complain about glacial tap water here in Alaska. It’s delicious. And when we need water on-the-go, we bottle it up!
  • Preserving Food – We’re actually pretty good at not having to waste food. Occasionally the last few celery sticks will go bad before we consume them and we do have a hard time making it through the Costco spinach before it’s mushy (we always get really, really close!), but on the whole, we’re actually pretty good about this. We also don’t buy jam (we bring some homemade blackberry up from Mr. T’s mom in Seattle and we make our own raspberry from our own plants) and we preserve when we’re given food (ie: canning delicious homemade applesauce).

Earth Day Checkup: An Improvement Goal

Drive Less – We’re very solid 2-car people lately. I don’t regret this decision since Florin and Penny go to different schools and they are rerouting the city buses and we will no longer have convenient access to them. However, with the chaos of having two kids in two different schools this year, it seems I’m always driving all over town. I’ve been bad about efficiently planning my errands. This year, I want to at least be more conscious about the things I need to do that involve driving and try to limit the amount of trips needed.

What are your goals for improvement in your Earth Day Checkup?


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  1. You had me at salmon! I would love to eat wild caught salmon every week but it’s expensive when you don’t catch it yourself. But it’s SOOO good for you. The two things I need to improve is 1) I want to start composting. 2)We don’t recycle at work (what a shame), but that shouldn’t stop me from bringing a or box in to collect my own unused paper to drop off at the recycling center. I have to do it for my own household anyway.

    • MaggieBanks

      We are very, very lucky to have our salmon supply in the freezer. 🙂 And recycling at work sounds like an excellent goal!

  2. We recently made a small step. We no longer buy pork or beef. We just started this about two weeks ago. I’ve also not ordered it when I’ve gone out to eat. We don’t not eat it if someone else is cooking for us and we’re guests, but hey it’s a small start. Those mammals really expel a lot of gasses.

    • MaggieBanks

      Mammals expelling gasses made me chuckle. Because I’m immature. 🙂 That is a GREAT big step! Congrats!

  3. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    Sounds like you guys are doing awesome!

    We’ve been terrible at wasting food lately… it’s really quite sad. If we didn’t live in this crappy rental, I’d love to plant a garden and try growing our own food. But I can’t even keep a houseplant alive inside, because of the lack of sunlight.

    We do recycle everything we can, and have cut back a lot on the unnecessary driving. So we’re not completely terrible to the planet 😉

    • MaggieBanks

      Nicely done. I just like to be aware of how my actions impact the planet. I feel like if we each took a careful look at that, we would change obvious things just by being aware.

  4. We are doing good on many fronts too. Lately we’ve been eating less meat. Another thing we are looking to change is use bar soap instead of liquid soap to avoid the need to use plastic bottles. We only have one car but we’ve been driving short distances instead of walking… Something to improve on for sure.

  5. Ahh, I looove salmon! But at $30 / kg, pretty much never eat it. (And the canned stuff is revolting)

    We feed scraps to our chooks/dogs, compost as much as we can, and recycle … I’m quite anal about that stuff but T could be a bit more stringent. We also use cloth bags and are trying to grow more fruit and veg but it definitely is not one of my natural talents!

    We have a few fruit trees but not of the kind I particularly like (plums and guavas and loquats in particular) so give a lot of that stuff away. I’ve been doing a bit more online food shopping from kiwi producers which is more local/organic as well

    • MaggieBanks

      I would LOVE plum and guavas in my yard! And my cousins are kiwi farmers (is that the right term?) outside Christchurch, I think.

  6. We usually do well with recycling, carrying our own bags for shopping, and avoiding food waste but we have the occasional slip up on the latter. I particularly like that PiC’s employer will do free electronic waste recycling for us as well, and we take our un-reviveable appliances down to the recycling plant in hopes that that stuff doesn’t just get dumped in a landfill. We also filter our tap water instead of buying bottled.

    I’ve gotten into a good semi routine with JuggerBaby/PiC’s schedule where we’ve increased our driving a little bit but are actually more efficient with our time, and possibly gas, because of it, so I think it’s worth the tradeoff.

    Now, tell me more about this salmon and can we come visit you for a salmon run someday??

    • MaggieBanks

      Unfortunately, you can’t dipnet because you’re not a resident, but you can definitely come to my house and I can feed you a lovely salmon dinner. Just give me the dates and I’ll put it on my calendar. 🙂

      • That’s ok, I just want to watch the dipnetting happen! I’m such a klutz I’d probably fall in and drown in salmon so even were I a resident it’d be best if I stayed a safe distance back 🙂

        • MaggieBanks

          PLEASE COME! It’s the second week of July. We camp right on the beach with all the other crazy locals and it is seriously the most interesting crazy awesome experience just to be there ever.

  7. Matt @ Optimize Your Life

    We’re pretty good on fabric bags, recycling, and tap water (although we use a filter…city water can’t compete with Alaskan water). We’re also okay at not wasting food and limiting driving. From what I’ve heard and read, it seems like the most helpful next step for me would be to cut back on meat, which will be tough. I feel like I can’t say I’m doing my best to help out if I don’t at least try, though, so maybe gradually dialing back will be my green goal for the year.

    • MaggieBanks

      Check out the meatless Monday movement. It’s a good place to start.

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