conservation needs

Down here in Louisiana, it's been extremely and uncomfortably hot. Yesterday was the hottest day since the 1930s, I believe, with an actual high of 102. And it hasn't rained for the entire month of June.

These circumstances have led to the utility companies issuing a moratorium on energy and water usages. The high temperatures are causing a major strain on the area grid and the utility company issued a statement telling everyone to curb energy and listed tips on conservation.
  • Customers who need air conditioning should set the thermostat at the highest comfortable temperature.
  • If possible, customers should use fans instead of air conditioners.
  • Don't use major appliances, such as electric dryers, ranges, washing machines and dehumidifiers -- if necessary, shift their use to night-time hours.
  • Close blinds, drapes and curtains during the heat of the day.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and refrain from using computers.
I already have most of these in practice at home, but the real problem is in the office. The windows are not insulated or covered. There are plenty of unnecessary lights and electronics on. I turned a few off, but it isn't enough. If I had my way, everyone would be working solely by the sunlight, but I don't have the clout to flip the breakers. There are some people who don't believe these things are issues and there are others who see the ridiculousness but aren't bothered to do anything about it.

There's only so much I can change alone, and with the office mentality, I'm just seen as the eco-freak and my statements go in one ear and out the other. At least today I've got a press release from LUS as my shield.

i try to walk away, but i stumble

I got a page-a-day eco-calendar from a very dear friend, and I enjoy reading each day's tip or quote and applying them to my life. They have some very poignant quotes that I like to stick on my bulletin board.

But Monday's tip came at just the wrong time. I want to follow the tips, I really do. And I'm always up for an excuse to treat myself to a lunchtime cookie.
But just last Friday, something happened. I was going down the stairs and I tripped. Fell about five stairs before my butt and my hands broke the fall.
Besides being less eco friendly, there are many reasons I will not ride the office elevator. It's old, it's hot, it makes weird noises, it's slow, I feel safer on the Tower of Terror... Anyway, I always take the stairs, but now I have a small vendetta against them too. I don't want Friday's fall to be the precursor to a complete wipeout!
And you can rest assured I rewarded myself with a lunchtime treat anyway.

summertime heat

June has certainly been a hot one for Louisiana. It also serves as a reminder to get your air conditioner checked out to ensure they are running properly for these hot months.

Living on my own is teaching me these things and I finally called maintenance to have them look at our air conditioner. I could tell it was not working to its full potential, leaving it to run nonstop but only cooling off to my set temperature in the middle of the night.

So hopefully as of today, my air conditioner will be back to normal, lowering my electricity bill back down. While I still don't have to pay much, my second month's bill was almost twice as much as my first month's. I'm looking forward to being appropriately energy efficient.

Another step I took to cool my apartment off, especially in the evenings, was inexpensive and stylish. I had a pair of khaki curtains I brought from home that serve as our living room curtains. However, khaki does nothing to block sunlight, so I bought an identical pair in chocolate brown and draped them on the rod together. It has done wonders for blocking light and heat.

So with a thermostat setting I'm sure is still higher than most people like, use of our ceiling fans and curtains that have a function, I'm taking steps to make sure my apartment is as energy efficient during these summer months as possible, and effectively save money on my utility bill. 

linking kind of monday

Sometimes while at work, I'll come across an interesting environment-related site, and I stick it in my Google task bar so I can write about it later.

Yeah, about 10 links later, I've yet to write about any of them, so today you get a whole roundup. Cleaning out the task list!

  • A section of an old Manhattan rail line has been turned into a green space, complete with park benches. They also left parts of the old railway, in an interesting juxtaposition of the old and the green.
  • Tired of receiving multiple phone books, especially when Google is way easier? Put an end to those useless deliveries.
  • Possibly the cutest reusable shopping bags I've seen so far. (Just hard to justify ordering some when I already have a small army of cloth bags.)
  • Can styrofoam really make biodiesel engines run more efficiently? It's about time it did something good. Very interesting, I must say.
  • SunChips is working on creating a completely compostable bag. And they are helping the town of Greensburg, Kansas, one of the premier 'green' towns as a result of a devastating 2007 tornado.
  • You can pretty much clean your house without harmful chemicals.
  • A big contributor to trash are fast food containers, bags, wrappers and the like. A student at the University of the Arts created biodegradable fast food packaging for McDonald's. With them being part of my work life, I would very much love for McDonald's to follow this idea and take a step toward becoming McGreen.
And that's it until next time!

birthday presents

So far, this summer has been fairly eventful. My family went to Disney World for a week and I turned one year older. Since I couldn't go with my family, I made sure to send them off with a list of things to give me as birthday gifts.

I know that Disney has jumped onto the green bandwagon, so I asked them to keep an eye out for anything interesting of the green variety. They did not disappoint.

T-shirts made of organic cotton, note pads and sticky notes made of 100% post-consumer recycled paper and a gorgeous mug with "How to Save the Planet" illustrations. There was also a gift shop in Animal Kingdom that sells purses made of recycled candy wrappers, but one did not make its way home to me (which is okay, since those bags are stupidly expensive for something made of what litters the trash at work.)

One thing I was curious about was if Disney had made any effort to curb the effect of the millions of plastic bags they go through each year. Their bags are now 100% recycled, conveniently stated on the bag in English and Spanish. The bags also point you to Environmentality, dedicated to Disney's environmental mission. I know every other time my family has gone, we've come home with a small mountain of plastic bags with Mickey on them. This year, my parents also chose to get larger bags and use them as shopping bags instead of getting one bag at each store and creating another collection.
Sounds like I just need to become a Green Supervisor in Disney World! I could be all about the organic/recycled merchandising and recycling programs in the happiest place on Earth.

what i plan to do this summer

In this first week of June, I am setting some green goals for myself, in some areas I can improve on.

First, I am going to get back to being styrofoam-free. I had been doing fairly well at bringing my own reusable container to restaurants, but after moving and subsequently visiting restaurants less, it fell by the wayside. While there are many reasons it's better to eat at home anyway, when I do go out to eat, I will make the conscious effort to arm myself with a reusable container. I've gotten in the habit of not ordering a drink where they are served in styrofoam cups (except for the damn daiquiri places...Looks like the end of daiquiris for me.)

Second, since I do eat at home more, I cook more. For myself. It's difficult to make just enough for one or two servings, leaving me with tons of leftovers. I do what I can to not waste food, but sometimes, there's simply too much for one person and I can't eat the same thing for lunch and dinner three days in a row. So my second goal is to do some research on composting. Since food is mostly what I throw out these days, I would love to be able to compost it, but I'm not sure just how feasible it is in an apartment complex. I also don't know what I would do with it once I have compost. I don't have a yard and my parents don't garden. Their next-door neighbors, however, do. I believe there is also a city compost. These are all things I can tackle in my summer compost research.

Third, I'd like to make the effort to conserve more. Energy-wise, I'm doing well at that. The lights in my bedroom and bathroom are CFLs and I need to switch out the dining room soon. I keep the lights off most of the time, especially during the day, and we run the air conditioner on the warmer side, using fans instead. But I'd like to try to consume less waste material, such as packaging or paper. I need to cut out the junk mail since it goes straight to my recycling bin. I need to find products that don't use as much packaging, and simply buy less in the first place, especially if it's not necessary. It's great to reuse and recycle, but I need to start reducing more. It's also a goal I want to try to implement in the office. We throw away too many newspapers immediately after receiving them. There has to be a way we can either not receive them or not receive so many copies. Another of my thoughts is if we have to receive so many, use them for box stuffing instead of buying bubble wrap and brown paper.

At the end of the summer, I'll recap how much I've done.

eco chick

I found the book The Eco Chick Guide to Life last night and decided it would be a great resource. As part of my plan to save money, I bring my lunch to work four days a week, but don't get to enjoy getting out of the office enough. I have decided to spend my lunch hours this week reading parts of this book.

Today I read about beauty products and green tips for all things body-related. I've already made the switch to recycled toilet paper (which also brought me to where I didn't buy any TP at Target over the weekend because I didn't see any recycled options. Note to self, need toilet paper.) I think my next switch may be to organic toothpaste once I finish the tube I have. I don't think this would be a huge change as long as I find a mint flavor organic toothpaste, which I know exists. I have tried organic deodorant, and while I still use it, I can't fully switch over. Right now I alternate between it and my regular deodorant. I already use natural soap from Pure & Natural, and it has an absolutely lovely scent. It's much better than the regular soaps that are full of waxes and other things that no longer make me feel clean. I have been a convert to organic shampoos for about seven months now and I don't miss conventional shampoos at all. My hair is clean, soft and shiny without being exposed to parabens and all the other harmful ingredients in conventional shampoo.

I've written about making the switch in beauty products and this is something I need to adopt in my actual makeup purchases. Physician's Formula is a great eco-conscious brand that isn't terribly expensive, which is great for all of us. But it all needs to happen in due time, as in, when I'm out of my existing makeup. 

Also, I found that Starre, the author of the book, runs a blog of the same name. Another blog to add to my Google reader!
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