Yesterday was Earth Day, and in spirit of the occasion I took a serious look at my family's lifestyle to see just how green we are.
First of all, we compost everything we possibly can, from newspapers, dryer lint, hair, food left-overs (no meat byproducts), leaves and even use normal woodchips as mulch for my flower beds. The woodchips are from when the township cuts down old, dead trees. I have two normal compost bins, plus a big pile that is made up of sod (from landscaping), leaves, and small brush. The compost is used in my flower beds and garden. In my garden I use straw to help keep the soil moist and to keep down weeds. We do not use chemical fertilizers or weed killers.
We recycle everything our township allows us to. As I have an office cleaning and yard maintenance contract with a local business I recycle from there as well. We throw out only one bag of garbage between our home and that business a month.
Going shopping, I use fabric bags I got a few months ago, plus I purchased a number of mesh produce bags from ficklefaerie and even gave some of those away as Christmas gifts last year. I buy our meat in bulk from a local butcher shop, (saving on lots of packaging) and freeze portions in my own freezer. I also tend to freeze or can a fair amount of produce in the summer and fall. (Fruit, veges, etc). I make our own jam too.
I wash laundry in cold water, and use a liquid detergent. I am looking into making my own in the future, in addition to other household cleaners. I also purchase soaps, body scrubs, lip balms from individuals who make their own such as carvelcountrysoaps , bovinebubbles, carmelsoaps, and ShannonsIrishBliss.
Living in the country makes it hard to carpool, but I do try my best to either do errands on the days I am working in town, or save them up and do them all in one day. It does help a bit.
In winter we have a programmable thermostat that allows the house to be cooler at night when we are sleeping and during the day when we are not at home, just warming the house a bit before we awaken or come home after work. In summer, we have all windows open at night to cool down the house, and close them up when we wake up, thus keeping the house cooler during the day. Most often we do not have the air conditioner on.
Also, when we bought the house, we pretty much striped it to the timbers and re-insulated it. Next on the list will be new windows. So for now, we just cover them in plastic in winter, to reduce drafts.
We never use disposable plates or flatware, and we rarely package things in bags (just the stuff we freeze). We prefer to use containers that can be re-used over and over again. In the summer we are apt to barbeque more often than cooking inside.
So, that is as far as I have gotten in my list. I am sure there are other things we do to be more "green" but for right now, this is a good start. I hope to continue adding to this list as time goes on.