Green@Home: Small Simple Steps, Pt. 3

072808-greenopen.jpgName: Sarahrae
Location: Kansas City, Mo
Profession: AT Editor, Caterer/Baker, Children's Book/Comic Book Colorist and Photographer. (I missed the part in school where they told you that normal people, who like sleep...only choose one career.)

greenATHomelogo.pngJanel and Heather kicked off the beginning of Green@Home month with their stories, so I thought I would wrap things up at the end. Living in the Central Midwest, life always feels a few steps behind when it comes to many things. We aren't by any means slack-jawed yokels, who sit on the front porch playing a harmonica watching our dogs scratch themselves (well not all of us anyway), but merely the type of people who have to do a bit more leg work to keep up with the times. Green@Home has been a fantastic way to show others how we are committed to taking steps, no matter how small, to transform our own quality of life. Click through the jump to see how my family works on greening up our lives, in ways that won't break the bank or make you dizzy with activism.

072808-green1.jpg Green Move #1: Early on in marriage my husband and I discovered we had one essential thing in common. Sensitivities to chemicals. Around our household we use only green cleaners, soaps and polishes. Not only for our own health, but for our pets as well. We buy baking powder and white vinegar like it's going out of style and usually reach for enzymatic cleaners when it comes to tougher jobs that necessitate something stronger. There are always fresh fruits to help get things extra sparkly... lemons and grapefruits especially!

072808-green2.jpg Green Move #2: Kansas City is not best known for it's ease of transportation (individual or mass). If you don't have a car... you either hitch a ride with a friend, or plan on sitting on a bus for 4 hours to go anywhere. We have the most amount of highway miles of the entire country...which would explain the large amounts of strange looks I receive when riding my bike to as many places as I can. It takes me to the grocery store, to the movies, the bowling alley, farmers market, parks, school, and so forth.

072808-green4.jpg Green Move #3: When it comes to gardening in our home, it's not only a green idea, it's a way of life. My husband and I grow as much as our container garden allows (we have to remove several large trees before we can garden in-ground on our property). On the backside of that, we also can or freeze any leftovers for the winter months, when tomatoes are $7 a pound. Our containers range from the typical terra cotta pots, to 5 gallon plastic buckets from the local grocery store (ask in the bakery department, they usually give them away for free), to this recycling tub from our first apartment together (we accidentally packed in it and kinda forgot to return it.). Containers require a bit more maintenance when it comes to watering and fertilizing, although we have enjoyed the flexibility that it has allowed us.

072808-green6.jpgGreen Move #4: Along with the canning of our summer bounty, my family also shares meat that has been locally raised and butchered. The prices are substantially lower and we know where the animal has been and what it has been eating. It is split up between my husbands siblings and we all stock our deep freezers. (A necessity for keeping 100 bags of zucchini through the winter!)
To keep our freezer running as efficiently as possible we do a few things. First off, we own a chest freezer instead of the door style. Freezers that have a frontal door lose more cool air than chest freezers due to the whole "cold air sinks" idea. We also keep the freezer full to capacity at all times. Does that always mean we have it stocked full of yummy snacks and such? Of course not. But it does mean that we take 2liter bottles, fill them with water and store them in the freezer.
Why you ask? By keeping the freezer full it allows the freezer to run shorter cycles and thus using less energy to operate. Also, in case of emergency/power outage, most food can be kept in our freezer for up to, if not over a week without having things thaw out. They're also handy to throw in a cooler to take along on a picnic, so your egg salad doesn't end up like the Titanic in a sea of melty ice water.

Being Green doesn't mean you have to plan an expedition to save wild monkeys in the Rainforests, in our house it simply means simplifying and living more like our Pioneer ancestors did (minus the pantaloons please), by leaving a small footprint in the world we live in while trying to replenish as much of it as possible along the way.
We hope you have been enjoying Green@Home month and don't forget you can still check out what others have had to say about making their homes a little greener, just a few simple steps at a time.

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Sarah Trover has lived all across the Midwest and currently calls the hot dog-laden city of Chicago home. She rides scooters and seeks out kitchens that make the best pie.