In recent weeks and months I've been thinking more and more about what I can do to help take care of the earth we've been given. Some scientists will tell you the earth is getting warmer and can't support us much longer. Some will tell you that science is all a hoax. I don't care.
What I do care about is that God has told us to care for the creation. And - on the whole - Americans are horrible stewards of God's land. So I've been working on my own ways of making a difference in my own stewardship of creation. What I've discovered is that many things that are Earth-friendly are also wallet-friendly without making a dramatic impact on the lifestyle I've come to expect.
1. White vinegar is the best cleaning product I've ever used. I use it for all of the surfaces in my bathroom, including the mirrors, all of the surfaces in the kitchen, the drains, the toilet, the rugs (when poured on a doggy stain covered in baking soda, it comes right up and doesn't leave a smell), and the floors. And it costs me approximately $1.00 for a gallon of the stuff. That's a pretty good deal when you calculate what you're spending on all those other cleaners (which don't work as well, I've found). Just put the stuff in a spray bottle and go to town. Amazing.
I have made it a policy to hand-wash anything larger than a dinner plate by hand. This means that I only run the dishwasher about every week and a half to two weeks (granted, I'm only 1 person). And ... when I'm finished, I pour a little vinegar in the soapy water and it cleans my drains for me, too!
I am now drying the majority of my clothes outside. They smell so clean, feel so great, and usually don't need to be ironed (because they've hung up to dry). Plus, the average dryer uses about 4 trillion gallons of gas a year (rounded up, of course, and electric dryers converted to fuel equivalency). Drying them outside means I cut the cost of my electric/gas bill, don't buy dryer sheets, and don't have to iron. And when it's cold or raining, I just bring them inside, set them up by a window and turn on the fan. Works just as well.
This one speaks for itself. Is 77* really that much more uncomfortable than 75? I mean really?!?! Wear a pair of shorts if you're burning up. In August (when it was averaging 90+ degrees), my power bill was only $45ish. I turn it up to 82* when I leave in the morning, then turn it down to 77* when I get home. Why cool the house while I'm not there?
If you read Katie's blog, you already know I'm a lover of the cloth bags. I take them with me grocery shopping. While this may not directly cut my spending, it does a few things. First, it keeps me from having to carry a ridiculous amount of bags (because the checkout people use WAAAY too many). Second, it saves the store money on buying the bags, which will ultimately lead to lower prices (think Aldi and their policy of charging you for grocery bags). Third, I don't have all those plastic bags lying around that I have to find a place for!
None of these things has made my life any harder. In fact, in some ways it's made my life easier as I've sought to "de-stuff" my life. One cleaning product now. No fussing to get oversized items in the dishwasher. Fewer plastic bags to store until I remember to take them somewhere to recycle them.
Creation care is a matter of being told to do it. And our culture has told us we don't really have to care for the earth because we're America. I'm making a change. Christ calls us to be transformed, not conformed to this world. I will be different.
If you want a few more ideas, here are some in short form:
6. Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (huge difference in my power bill!)
7. Recycling (much easier than you might expect)
8. Proper air pressure in your car tires (also improves your gas mileage)
9. Turn the lights off if you're leaving a room for more than 60 seconds.
10. Use motion lights on the porch instead of constant-burning ones. Why light up the porch when no one is there?