Resolution a Month
April and May were way too busy to even consider monthly resolutions. There were school holidays and then gorgeous warm weather that enticed even the shyest of gardeners to pick up gardening implements and wield them aimlessly at plants. I managed to dig over the 2 veg patches, seeds into seed trays and then clucked over them like a mother hen. I got so enthusiastic that i even dug another veg patch. That’s one of the problems with growing up on a diet of The Good Life; I have serious delusions of being self sufficient. I even recycled the kid’s old plastic toy boxes into bright flower boxes.
If that wasn’t enough to keep me busy two years ago I embarked on a foundation degree through a distance learning college. To enable me to sit the final exam I had to submit a lot of assignments and gain a final grade of over 75%. The deadline was looming so May was an intensive month. I learnt from it all though that I have more discipline than I thought and although I like learning, it doesn’t get any easier the older you get. All the assignments have been handed in, marked and I am now waiting for the exam date.
So now were up to date and galloping through June. June’s resolution is to get some exercise into my life. It’s about time that I realised that just wearing trainers around the house or owning a sports bra doesn’t actually count as exercise. I’m not training for anything mad like a marathon as I don’t do running, its far too energetic and I have too much that could bounce and cause an injury. I am doing it because I used to be fit and I don’t like feeling like a use to be.
I have dusted off the antiquated exercise bike. The computer doesn’t work but the pedals go round and that’s about my level at the moment. I do a 25 minute ride 3 times a week. Starting off gently, 15 minutes of uphill and then slowing down. So far its going ok though how people do this kind of exercise in a gym is beyond me. I seriously think my arse is going to fall off each time I get off the bike.
At the end of this week and I am hoping to add in some extra walking. I normally walk to the shop which is a short distance away but have figured that it won’t take that much longer to walk to a different shop a bit further away. I am also considering adding something else along the lines of yoga/stretching sort of thing. I am still reading up on that one though.
I do buck the trend of the typical dreamy Piscean by being realistic with my capabilities. I know what I am good at and what I am dangerously rubbish at and multi tasking isnâ€™t one of my fortes. Yes I know us women are supposed to be good at that but I am not. So with Easter holidays and two children at home, I decided not to try a resolution this month.
A quick update on the 3 resolutions so far, well it is the end of the first quarter and I worked in an accounts office far too long to still count in quarters.
January â€“ meat free month. Much to my childrenâ€™s dismay, I am still on that one. I have eaten meat but each occasion hasnâ€™t made me feel too brilliantly. I wonâ€™t give you the gory details but Renee, the dissolvable kind, is my new best friend.
February â€“ beauty month. Work in progress really. I did do two drastic things after the month was up. I had all my hair chopped off and then dyed it the wrong colour. I have, i think, the whole of my childrenâ€™s lives had long hair. It would look beautiful when I had spent many hours on taming it but for every day mum it just got put into a boring pony tail. Not one of those sleek ponytails, one of those gets increasing wilder as the day goes on. So with determination from me and gasps from the hairdresser it was cut short enough not to go into a ponytail. I love it and apparently I look ten years younger. Dying my hair black when i thought the box said brown ( yes I know wear my glasses more and read the label before applying the product next time) has had startling good responses too.
March â€“ anything green. I am still trudging a path the compost bin on a daily bases. On dustbin day I have now swung the balance to more recycle bags then refuse bags. I am slowly winning the war.
As for April, I wonâ€™t be sitting with my feet up by any means; the holiday list has been written and put on the fridge. The children know this means they may be dragged into a task at any given time without prior warning or if they use the banned trigger word. They learnt very quickly that saying the word â€˜boredâ€™ can trigger one of two responses in me. I either give them a bin liner to sort their room or i peruse the holiday list to see what i can get them to help me with. I am sure they are looking forward to helping me clear the garage, jet washing the patio and go through every piece of clothing I own. If of course none of those are to their liking I do have weeding, hedge cutting and carpet cleaning up my sleeve in reserve.
March has come to an end and with it my Green Resolution. I donâ€™t know why but when I started the resolution I didnâ€™t think I would enjoy it. I had visions of bags of recycling cluttering up my home till collection day. I also naively thought recycling would be easy as I thought everything could be recycled. Its all very well the supermarkets getting behind the recycling and putting labels on all the packaging to say what is recyclable but its a bit pointless when in small print it says â€˜check with your local councilâ€™. For example most of the plastic packaging that is used by manufactures cannot at this time be recycled by my local council or by the recycle centre near me. The only things I can recycle in the plastic department are milk and drinks bottles. Once I got into the swing of things, recycling has very easily slotted into every day family life. I donâ€™t, though, have any indication or clue if my efforts are actually doing anything. I do struggle to be enthusiastic about things unless I can see an improvement. Watching my recycling disappearing into the distance on the back of the recycling lorry doesnâ€™t really do it for me. I knew that my efforts wouldnâ€™t cause an overnight hysteria of success but come on give me a sign of some sort. Â Both the children have got into to it to and instead of throwing everything away if there is something they are not sure if they will stand in the kitchen making recycling noises which they know puts a green motherly smile on my face.
I also learnt that itâ€™s not just about recycling plastic, glass and paper each week. Things like light bulbs, appliances, products etc can all be tweaked to be greener if you just take 5 minutes to think what the better option is.
There is reusing things too. I have a small area in the garden that is a real sun trap but is ugly and uneven. The easiest option would have been to get a builder in to make it look pretty with some blocks and paving slabs. I donâ€™t have the money for that sort of thing so instead I have done it myself. Not like the builder would have done but with some hefty stones found from the corners of my garden, soil and a lot of back breaking it has been transformed into a hard standing area that will now happily home the fruit and veg in pots. Didnâ€™t cost me a penny and used up â€˜rubbishâ€™ from around the garden. I am more chuffed with it then I would have been if I got the builder in.
So with March at end the important question has to be asked, will I continue my green crusade?
In a way I will. I know single handily I am not going to save the world. I know that I donâ€™t have to try to be green in every area of my life but just the bits I can do freely and easily. I have though installed the green seed into my children. If they now grow up more aware and recycle for the rest of their lives and pass that on to their children then maybe I have achieved something.
The more I have read about being green the more I realise that managing to recycle is actually only a small part of it all. I have looked at some of f the other things that I can be green at was surprised to know I am actually greener than I thought. I have though made two more steps on the green ladder by growing my own veg and walking to the supermarket. Not huge things, granted but both have an other reasons for my madness.
Growing veg is only a recent bug I have discovered I enjoy. Last year was my test to see if I lasted the year with some raised veg patches. I quickly learnt that though lettuce and more lettuce were nice, I wanted to grow more variety. This year the veg boxes have been moved and recycled into flower beds in the front garden. The back garden now looks like something out of the Good Life. I may not have enough room to self support the kids and I but least it will be more than just sodding lettuces.
Growing veg is ticking the green boxes. Â I am not buying packaging with my veg like I would at the supermarket. I also hopefully saving pennies, keeping fit and the other good side is that itâ€™s a good excuse to be outside in the sunshine.
I am also very lucky to live less than a mile from two supermarkets. They very inconsiderately are in opposite directions though. In the summer the local Asda is over run by holiday makers, so much so I proved with the help of my mother and her car that it is actually quicker to walk there and back than getting in the car. This is all very well and healthy but does lean to some organisation on my behalf. I have to remember that whatever I put in the basket I will actually be lugging back up the hill in my backpack due to both supermarkets are at the bottom of hills to. I have found I am buying less and loosing inches too, which has to be good. I am also saving on petrol as the car only gets used when itâ€™s too far to walk.
Maybe itâ€™s the change in weather that has brought about these two changes and only in autumn will I discover if I am a fair weather gardener and walker. I suspect I will be.
Doing the green resolution is proving to be quiet challenging. I seem to be constantly reading labels and on bin monitor duty. But as I have been reading up on the whole green thing, I am realising that some of the things I do in everyday life are actually greener than I thought. I use to think you were either green or not green but I am learning that there are several shades of green and some of these shades I am already doing. Take washing the dishes, something that is some in every household every day and several times a day. Now the really green option would be serving up the food on huge leaves which is completely impractical, slightly mad and would confirm to my kids that I had lost the plot. At the other end of the scale is washing dishes by hand â€“ yes washing dishes by hand can be the least green thing to do.
As with the washing the dishes I have looked at some of the other things I do on a daily bases and graded them into their green shades. Are you greener than you thought?
Washing the Dishes -Using leaves as plates or washing the dishes in cold filtered rainwater is not aÂ sensibleÂ answer for a busy mum. Next best is using an AAA rated dishwasher, but only when itâ€™s full. It may sound completely wrong to big up the dishwasher but when an AAA dishwasher is used full it can use at little as 15 litres of water per cycle. Over ten years that could save a household 100,000 litres of water. Beware of the half load setting though as these seldom use half the electric of half the water of a full cycle. Oh and have a read of the detergent you are using as they may contain chlorine and phosphates which are not green. Look out for eco friendly detergents.
Washing and Drying Clothes â€“ not the best answer but to be the greenest answer is to not to wash clothes. Probably every teenagers dream but in reality not very practical. The next best thing is to wash clothes by hand using harvested rainwater and lots of elbow grease with drying the clothes on the line.
Lighting â€“ Lighting only uses 3% of energy and 16% of electric of your household total which on its own going green in this department wonâ€™t save loads. But if everyone joined it and would have a positive effect. The greenest you can be with lighting is to sit in the dark. Being with one with nature and its cycles may be doable in summer but not practical or safe in winter. The next greenest option is probably the highest tec. Light Emitting Diodes or LEDS to you and me. These are good for two reasons. The lights use very little power, typically just 1 to 3 watts per bulb and they have a long life (50,000 hours). The out lay for LEDâ€™s may be higher than halogens but over 15 years 20 LED down lighters could cost around Â£600 compared to Â£4,500 for halogen equivalents
Washing the Dishes -Using that thing in the kitchen that has taps attached, yes the sink. Though you would only qualify for 2 green stars if you used a bowl of water for rinsing instead of running water, oh and you would have to use eco friendly detergent too. Lastly all the waste water would be used on the plants too.
Washing and Drying Clothes â€“ sharing resources is always a good eco saving and never more so than with washing. A study showed that a laundry service for washable nappies that took away dealt with and returned used 32% less energy than home washing and 41% less water. If you can use a launderette and share a load it would be greener than owning a washing machine.
Lighting â€“. CFL ( compact fluorescent) bulbs are commonly the easy option for low energy lighting as they typically use a quarter of the energy than incandescent bulbs whilst producing the same amount of light and lasting 15 time longer. The manufacturing process uses 4 times the energy to make than normal light bulbs; this is more than cancelled out by the energy savings.
Washing the Dishes -Using a really old antique of a dishwasher. Surprisingly this old beast will use about 50 litres of water which is loads better than the no stars option. But did you know if you could save up and replace the old beast with an AAA rated dishwasher it would eventually pay for its self if youâ€™re on a water meter.
Washing and Drying Clothes â€“ A+ or AA rated appliances, used sparingly at low temperature, with minimal washing detergent and line drying is about the greenest the realistic busy family will get. Keep in mind though a 40 degree wash uses almost half the energy of 60 degree wash. The drying though should still be line dried as there is no such thing as a green tumble dryer.
Lighting â€“ The common old light bulb. ( Incandescent) is not very green with its short life ( 1,000 hours) It also only uses 5% of the energy it uses for light whilst the filament glows away at 2,500c
Washing the Dishes -Washing dishes in the sink with the tap running to rinse the dishes could, if youâ€™re on washing up duty after a big meal, use about 150 litres of water.
Washing and Drying Clothes â€“ You donâ€™t earn any green points if youâ€™re frequently washing, using the tumble dryer and using non eco detergents. Those couple of washes a day at a 60 degree temperature would add up to 40,000 litres of water in a year. Dry cleaning is also a non star award.
Lighting â€“ Halogen spotlight may look sparkly and not use more power than incandescent but the problem is we like to use a lot of them. A typical halogen light kitchen could be boasting 600w when CFL and LED lights are improving enough to achieve the same effect on 7w each. Lastly candles, the typical hippy green image are sadly the un-greenest lighting solution. They are inefficient at producing light as most of their energy goes into heat. They are also made from fossil-fuel-derived paraffin wax which chucks out pollutants directly into your home.
Today I am proud to post the thoughts on Green things of a fellow single mum…..
Since becoming a single parent many things that I once held dear to my heart, or in actual fact was quietly smug about, have fallen by the wayside.Â None more so than my “green” credentials, from once being a 3 box, compost bin and water butt kind of girl I am now a, err tescos man please can you take these carrier bags away because they are driving me up the wall kind of girl.Â No longer am I saving all my cardboard, sorting out the aluminium tins or saving my peelings and though I know I should feel some sort of guilt, I am ashamed to admit that there is none.
I am not a litterer, I often come home from the school run with pockets bulging with wrappers and the car looks like the inside of a wheelie bin, its just that I can’t seem to get my head round the fact that at some point going to the tip is now under my banner of jobs to do, along with everything else that is required in running a house single handedly.
Please some one convince me that all the effort of seperating my rubbish, and keeping everything neatly stacked in the garage to be taken to the tip once a week, with 2 energetic boys bouncing around in the back of the car is actually going to make a difference to global warming and greenhouse gas emmissions.
The thought of not only having to save, stack and then move weeks of rubbish just to take it to the “recycling centre” but to also having to do it with the boys fills me with dread.Â I can imagine getting there, ordering them to stay put and the second my back was turned the 6 year old slipping his seatbelt off, untieing his baby brother and them making their escape to the world of “stig of the dump”. I’d lose them in one of those massive containers because they would be trying to re-inact the end of Toy Story 3. So no thank you, if dear council you are prepared to take it away without me having to sort it or if you are willing to reduce my council tax as a form of payment for the effort that needs to be put in, I will not be sorting out my rubbish for you untill the kids are driving and they can go play at the tip by themseleves, though should you decide to send Brad Pitt to ask me to do it, I may reconsider….
For more of my drivel find me at www.daytodaylivinginthenuthouse.blogspot.com
A week into being greener and it was rubbish day in my street yesterday. Last week I put out two black household rubbish and one piddly recycle bag that was very lonely. I am happier with my recycling efforts this week and managed two recycle bags though still had two black bags this week.
The past week I have become a recycle fiend, looking at every bit of rubbish and pouncing on the children when they go near the rubbish bin to inspect what they are throwing away. The compost bin is getting â€˜fedâ€™ regularly with veg peelings so I feel happier with that. I am though rather angry with plastic. What I didnâ€™t know and fast learning is that I canâ€™t put all my plastic from all the packaging into the recycle bin. If I could do that I think I would be down to one black bag a week easily.
It depends on your local council and what they can accept so check that out first. Paper, cans, glass and aerosol cans can be put out for collection in those nifty little recycle bags they give you. Plastic though is a bit more hard work. They happily take plastic bottles but things like bags, ready-meal food trays, yogurt pots, margarine pots etc are not allowed as they are made of different kinds of plastic. So the council wonâ€™t take them as they donâ€™t have the resources to sort them once they have picked them all up. Couldnâ€™t we adopt a system like New Zealand has where all plastics have a number and recycle bins have numbers too so itâ€™s easier to work out what can be recycled where?
Although I am rather peeved that I canâ€™t recycle more of the plastic stuff, I am slowly getting to grips with what goes in which recycle bag so at least I am making progress.
I am quite proud to report that I saved a tree. No mouth to mouth resuscitation or anything like that was needed. Clearing out under the bed and a cupboard I managed to accumulate a stack of magazines almost a meter high. After digging further into the unknown world of the back of the cupboard, one Argos book and an old yellow pages got the magazine stack to a metre high. According to the green boffins, recycling a metre high of paper saves a tree.
So baby steps with the recycling, giant steps with the compost bin and great delight that early seedlings have started to sprout. I am yet to convince the children that being greener is fun.