Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lock The Window

There are three stories on my narrow house. The windows on the bottom two floors have always been securely locked at all times while I never payed much attention to the windows on the third stories. Why notice them? Meanies could only get to those windows if they had a fire truck or maybe the ability to fly.

Recently I was walking by one of my unlocked third story windows when I noticed a strong, cold draft. (damn you New England winters!) The window was shut, so what was the problem? I tugged, pulled and pushed on the window. Nothing. Then, I simply locked the window and the draft disappeared.

Ding, Ding. Ding. There was that light bulb over my head!

The window lock helps to keep the windows completely sealed. In the immortal words of my eight year-old Gruppie self, "duh!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Green Library

American libraries were not originally founded on green ideals. Still I cannot think of another group, located in nearly every small town and big city, that is quite so environmentally friendly.

Borrowing magazines and books instead of buying them is the obvious first thing that springs to mind when I think of the ways in which libraries are green. Less trash, less paper, less ink. But, the libraries of today are so much more. Video games, toys, CD players, games, DVDs and downloadable books are now commonplace. Items that may have been watched or played with maybe twice after being privately purchased can now be used by many residents.

Museum passes are one of my favorite green library perks. Back when the family first moved to Connecticut, I had no clue what to do around town. Consequently I spent my weekends traveling far and wide. Since I discovered my library's free museum passes, my traveling has been far more local. Less pollution and my money is being spent locally.

Over December vacation (AKA cold and trapped at home for two weeks), the kids and I grabbed a library pass and headed over to Hartford. We discovered the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. Lots of new and interesting facts were learned during our free kids tour. For example, did you know that Harriet's son was Andy Samberg's doppelganger?

In my spare time, the library has proved to be a great place for me to do a little guerrilla greening. My passive aggressive self just loves to tack notes to the bulletin board outlining how to dispose of CFL bulbs or discussing the importance of composting. It is also a great place for me to strategically place my pre-read magazines like Mothering, the natural family magazine. (Shhh...don't tell the librarians it's me)

The librarians of the past in their cardigan sweaters and pointy glasses may not have planned to show love for the earth and your pocketbook through their libraries. Let's hope that in the era of budget cuts and zero growth, our librarians of today (in their seasonal sweaters and bright skirts) will be able to continue with their missions and change with the times.

Have you hugged your librarian today?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spread the Love

In my gruppie opinion, Valentine's Day is a holiday for kids in school. It's the one day every year when each kid is guarenteed to receive 20 Valentine's (mostly filled with candy). Valentine's Day may be one of the most exciting of all of the 180 school days. After the sixth grade, the day begins to loose it's luster.

Consumerism and the pressure to act romantic puts Valentine's Day near the bottom of my favorite holiday list. Sorry Tweed Day! My bitterness really peaked that year in college when I decided to dump my boyfriend on Valentine's Day. (Gosh that was a good decision)

Crafty Girlie created her own Valentine's Day mailbox using an old soda box and some scrap paper.

For all of those with love in the hearts and their wallets firmly stashed in the top drawer. Enjoy this day!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Water Woes

My yard is covered in melting snow. Water is dripping off of the roof. Tiny rivers are running down the street. Winter (dreaming of spring) in Connecticut is here. That means water!

It's easy to forget just how serious our global water situation is. Dire would be a great word. Australia is on fire. Kids are dying of thirst and dysentery in Africa. Water shortages are abound. We each need to do our part to lessen our fresh water usage.

I was dreaming in green last Christmas. As all good little Gruppies do, I wrote a letter to Santa. In my letter I asked Santa for solar roof panels and a low-flow shower head with a pause button. (You know, for those soapy moments when you really aren't standing under the shower and all of that clean water is just falling down the drain.) Seeing that I had been extra good I thought that I was sure to score with my gifts.

Well, the solar panels must not have fit in Santa's sack, because the Waterpik showerhead was one of my only gifts under the tree. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought...

On Christmas day I immediately ran to the shower and installed my new low-flow showerhead (because I'm crafty like that) and proceeded to take a shower. I'll keep this all PG, but when it was time to soap up I slid the pause button only to have the water slow. As all five year olds know, pause means stop. Like stop completely. Who are these Waterpik packaging writers who believe that pause means "just slow down a little"?

In addition to the annoying false advertising, the water stream was amazingly narrow. I found myself talking longer showers just to make-up for the lack of water covering my body. I began to think that my fancy new low-flow shower head was costing me money and wasting more water.

Long story short, I paused my dream of easily conserving water in the shower for now. When I soap up, I turn off the water completely. It's a pain, but it will have to do. As for the new shower head, I did what any frugal parent would do...made the kids use it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Five Questions

I get great questions from my readers all of the time. Cheree over at The Verbosery was sweet enough to keep the five questions for a blogger train going.

Here we go...


OK.. I kept the questions mostly about "living green". I thought this would be an excellent way for you to talk more about things you maybe haven't talked about yet, and some of the harder parts. You make it look so easy, sometimes (well, like WORK, but easy) (Cheree, I'm the one who feels like a mess!), so those of us who already feel like we're chasing after our lives sometimes feel a little bit intimidated. :) And NO BENCH QUESTIONS! :) I hope you enjoy them!

1. Is Mr. Gruppie (or would that Gruppie Boy?) as fanatical about living green as you are?

Gruppie Boy or "Hubby" as I like to call him when the tights come off, has worked really hard to move closer to green. I would say that I initiated things, but Hubby is sharing the reigns and running with it.

Hubby is a talker by profession, so he easily slides green speak into his conversations. Once he even started a conversation with a client about the benefits of cloth diapers.

You would never peg either of us as granola if you walked by us on the street. Us gruppies are cleverly disguised as yuppies. (apparently one of us also wears tights)

2. What was the hardest change for you to make, in terms of giving up something you enjoyed or having to find a better alternative?

Like all of my readers, my time is precious. Since I've really focused on cleaning up my life, I've had to give up a lot of convenience.

Now I can't just run to the drugstore to buy something like make-up or sunscreen when I know that it will harm both my family and the planet. I need to plan ahead tons more.

3. Do you have one secret, guilty non-"green" pleasure that you allow yourself occasionally?

Cover your eyes. This is super secret and super naughty.

Sometimes I like to eat at McDonald's. :(

4. Of the things you do to live a more earth-friendly life, what do you find is the most time and/or energy consuming?

Food! Making food from scratch, learning how to grow my own food, researching CSAs and even eating in season has been the biggest time eater (punny) for me. It probably doesn't help that I detest cooking.

Life would be tons easier if I just grabbed watermelons in the winter or ate all prepackaged foods. But I have to think ahead as to how those decisions affect all of us.

5. What's your favorite just-for-you special "green" treat or extravagance?

I buy expensive organically grown fair trade chocolate and don't share it with a soul. Third drawer down, under my socks. Don't tell.

ChereeRandom & Capricious

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Everyday Plastic

Hi, my name is Gruppie and my kids like to eat lunch meat.

Hi Gruppie.

OK, so I buy the antibiotic-free lunch meat. Still, it's loaded with nitrates and other yuckies...I know. One of the worst features of lunch meat is all of the plastic that it comes wrapped in.

The other day Hubby was off to the local food store when he mentioned that the kids wanted lunch meat and sliced cheese. "Oooohh, perfect!" I had been meaning to bring my reusable glass containers to the deli, but kept forgetting. Now Hubby could be the perfect guinea pig.

The brave hunter gatherer came back from the store with two reusable glass containers filled with turkey and cheese. "They looked at me funny" was all that Hubby said.

What do all of you other plastic-haters do with the deli price sticker? Do you allow the friendly meat cutters to stick it onto the glass container only so you can spend the first ten minutes after you arrive home picking at it? Or do you do something entirely more intelligent?