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Going Green in the Red and Blue

There is nothing so divisive as everything in our country. You can't have a conversation without getting into politics, and if you're like most people, you don't want to alienate your friends and family so you may not speak out on topics you feel strongly about. The recent feud between Rosie O' Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View is a good picture of what happens when we try to be friends on two ends of the political spectrum. It just doesn't always work! While two people can't even work together with differing political views, inter-political party marriages have lasted for decades and it's no big deal.

There's one topic, however, that while politically polarized by the left wing and right wing, is not so polarizing to those of us who have to listen to their drivel. Most of us in the "middle" have enough common sense to figure out what we need to do in our homes in order to "go green," whether we're concerned with the polar ice caps or not. Don't get me wrong; I'm a Christian conservative, but I am often able to see both sides quite well and I know where I stand.

Examining extreme sides of the spectrum of "going green," here is what I see:  Those on the left, who have probably seen Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth numerous times, talk about walking to work, living "off the grid," and using one square of toilet paper. Those on the right, who are afraid to recycle because (God forbid!) they should be confused with an environmentalist, are not concerned at all whatsoever about conservation because any day now, Jesus will come back and we won't need our planet anymore anyway.

As you can see, the majority of us on this issue are in the middle. And most of us just want to do what we can, every day, to make a difference. Whatever your reason for conserving, it is valid, no matter what state you're in or what religion you belong to. I personally don't conserve out of fear for global warming. I do it for financial reasons, and because I feel that God does not want us squandering our resources. It is more painful for me to see "holier than thou" Christians waste water, electricity, paper towels, gas, you name it, than it is to see liberals who think what they are doing is keeping the world from falling apart. But that's just me!

So whether you are a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, or live in a red or blue state, we can all agree that there are basics to going green that we all can perform each day. You have heard these before, and I will add to them as I think of other things. Perhaps you will find an idea that you've never seen before; I hope so!

Conserve Natural Resources

This encompasses many things, including paper, gas, water, and even the cotton your clothes are made of. On Earth Day, I remember all the talk shows who had special guests that quoted how the world would change if millions of people used one less napkin per day, or didn't use throw away grocery bags. Well, all we can do is what WE can do. The rest of the world will hopefully make changes, too! Here are some ways we can conserve our natural resources:

Reduce/ Re-use / Recycle

  • Use reusable bags at the grocery store
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins
  • Use cloth rags to clean your house instead of paper towels
  • Use cloth diapers instead of disposables
  • Find a pre-school who can use items like paper towel/ toilet paper rolls or empty egg cartons
  • Stop buying magazines if you don't read them, and the ones you do read - share with friends
  • Recycle newspapers, corrugated cardboard, magazines, telephone books, plastic, glass and food cans (after reducing their use as much as possible)
  • Use recycled paper whenever possible (just check the labels)
  • Select items that use less packaging
  • Don't use throw-aways on picnics or at parties
  • Cut back on eating fast food. Instead, find a sit down restaurant who uses REAL plates and utensils. Can't afford that? Split plates with your spouse or children. I can share my plate with two children and we all get plenty!
  • Here's one you'll love: drink liquor instead of beer. WAY less waste! (And stop buying bottled water! Purify your tap water instead)

Use Less Gas/ Electricity

  • Run a cooler house in winter and a warmer house in summer. Use portable electric heaters in the room you are using and turn the thermostat down in the winter.
  • Combine errands when you need to travel "into town" and plan so that you aren't doubling back
  • Walk or ride your bike when you aren't traveling far
  • When you need a new car, make it a hybrid or a smaller car with better gas mileage
  • Use less hot water when possible, and turn down the temperature on your hot water heater
  • Un-plug anything not being used, or use a power strip that you can turn off
  • Use your oven more often in the winter, and grill outdoors in the summer
  • Insulate walls, floors, ceilings, and windows that are accessible from the outside of the house
  • Service your HVAC regularly and change out filters as necessary
  • Replace your light bulbs energy saving light bulbs
  • Block sun in the summer with mini-blinds or curtains; allow sunshine in all day during winter
  • Line dry your clothes
  • Run swimming pool filters or heaters as little as possible

Use Less Water

  • Take showers instead of baths, and get a good showerhead that doesn't waste water
  • Run only a FULL load of laundry or adjust the water level setting
  • This might sound gross, but urine doesn't have to be flushed every time you go; flush every three times or so
  • Conserve as much water as possible when washing your face, shaving, or brushing teeth
  • Run only a FULL dishwasher, or better yet, hand wash immediately after the dishes are used
  • Use common sense when washing your car, and do it less frequently
  • Water your garden in the morning so that you don't lose vital water to evaporation
  • Get pure water using a home water distiller rather than a reverse osmosis unit, which wastes 4-6 gallons to produce just one

Find it Used Instead of New

  • Try consignment stores, garage sales, and thrift shops for new clothes or shoes for your family
  • Have your own garage sale or donate to thrift shops like Goodwill that help employ people in your community
  • Any clothes that have holes or stains or are just too old to be passed on will make great cleaning rags. Remove any buttons or zippers that are usable before cutting up.
  • Replace parts on appliances when possible, instead of discarding and buying new
  • Hand down any appliances that someone less fortunate would love to have
  • Join a Freecycle group in your community and get/give free stuff
  • Shop eBay for gently used items

Don't Depend on Petroleum Products

  • You will probably be surprised to learn of all these products made from petroleum
  • Re-use older items instead of buying brand new; almost everything you use was made from petroleum!
  • Look for personal care products without mineral oil, paraffin, and propylene glycol, all of which are derived from petroleum
  • Do not burn paraffin candles. Burn soy candles! They burn cleaner and do not leave a black soot on walls and curtains like burning petroleum based paraffin does.
  • Wear organic cotton clothes as much as possible. Polyester is a petroleum product.
  • Don't buy bottled water. The water you are drinking is not regulated, and the plastic is a nuisance. Get your own re-usable container and bring your water from home!

Other Ways to Go Green

There are tons of other ways you can go green, so we'd like to hear from you! Let us know your favorite "going green" idea and we will share it with our readers!