We don't own a hybrid. We don't frequent farmers' markets every weekend. We don't wear all naturally sourced cotton fibres. We don't have a living roof...unless moss counts. But could we be Vancouver's greenest family?
VancouverMom.ca is holding a contest right now, searching for Vancouver's greenest family. When Mr. Awesome and I first saw it on Twitter we started talking about it, and we realized that we do quite a number of things on a daily basis that might actually put us in the running.
The contest has some required content, to find out what families are doing to emulate Kermit the Frog. Bear with me as I fulfill the contest requirements, but also dazzle you with our eco-awesomeness.
QUESTION: List three small green things your family does.
EAT YOUR VEGGIES!
We grow our own veggies. Mostly from seed, some from seedling. I am still working on my green thumb so I can't say we get ALL our vegetables from our own garden, but in the summers we are getting pretty close. Spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, beans, peas, herbs...now if I can only get my onions and squash to work we'll be set.
LOW ENERGY? GOOD!
Where possible, we limit our energy consumption. We have LED or CFL bulbs in ever fixture in our home. It took me a while to get used to the different light they throw off, but Mr. Awesome insisted because of the energy and cost savings. I hate admitting when he's right. We even changed all our Christmas light strings over to LED. The bulbs are brighter and they use a fraction of the energy.
We installed "low-e" windows and "High-R" insulation in our home during our reno, both of which are designed to reduce energy costs.
Also during the reno, we installed a Navien tankless water heater. It only heats the water as needed, instead of using energy to heat stored water that may not be used.
Last but not least, we have an Energy Detective that allows us to chart our power usage for the devices in our home, to recognize the big "power sucks" and change our habits. (The TV is probably the biggest culprit for energy consumption, in case you were wondering.)
While we don't own the aforementioned hybrid, we did downsize Mr. Awesome from a minivan to a smaller vehicle last year. His fuel consumption is now half what it was before.
QUESTION: Tell us about one big green thing your family does.
Here's our "one big thing":
We reduced our household garbage output to less than one kitchen bag per week. Over the last few years we have started a couple of simple things that have had a major impact on our trash output.
We started composting all our kitchen scraps two summers ago, adding a second tumbler last year. Finally, about a month ago, I looked inside our original contraption. I felt such a feeling of accomplishment when I cheered "We made DIRT!" We spread it over some of the garden last weekend and I could almost hear the plants squeal with delight.
Almost everyone I know recycles to some degree, but a few years ago we discovered WCS Recycling and their Red Recycle Bag program. They encourage you to think "outside the blue box," and they recycle any and all plastics that your municipality may not accept. For a small fee, we take our granola bar wrappers, styrofoam trays, plastic straws, Costco blisterpacks, old broken plastic toys...it all gets recycled instead of ending up in a landfill. They call us "Red Baggers." I'll be honest, I don't love the name.
QUESTION: How do you get your kids involved?
Our kids are involved because they live in our home. I do get them to help with the veggie garden to help them understand the planting and growth process and where food comes from, but everything else is really the only reality they have. They know where to put the plastics for recycling, they wouldn't know a hot water tank if it walked up and said hello, they like to help flip the compost bin...it's just how they're growing up so they don't know any different.
QUESTION: Tell us what you love about living a green lifestyle.
Until this contest and the writing of this post, I don't think we would have described ourselves as living a "green lifestyle." Over the years we have made simple changes to our behaviour, things that would inevitably save money but also just be a good choice for our family and the environment.
Our daily lives include a number of things that some might consider "green." Here are a few more:
- I make my own deodorant
- We have removed all products containing parabens from our home, replacing them with better alternatives
- We use reusable shopping bags
- I mow the lawn with a push mower
- We don't use any pesticides or herbicides in our gardening
- We clean with green products where possible, and we're currently experimenting with a vinegar and orange peel concoction
So...does all this make us Vancouver's Greenest Family? I hope so, because the prizes are awesome. But even if we're just an "also ran," it was kind of cool to put all the little things we do on a daily basis together and realize that we actually do quite a bit. As they say, every little bit helps.