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12 September 2007

What will you do?

The tools of a revolutionary.

There comes a point when everyone needs to make a conscious decision to make changes that need to be made. How many times have we talked about small steps, how many times have you seen that strategy in magazines, online or in newspapers; how often have you already used the small steps strategy? We all know small steps work.

Everyone in the world needs to change a little, or a lot, to become greener. We need to change our idea that there is a product for everything; we have to stop buying the mountain of products that will end up in landfill or will pollute in some way. Everyone has a part to play in this, everyone needs to help.

It doesn't matter if you can afford to buy lots of electricity or water, or if you can buy new clothes, shoes, paper plates and napkins or a million other products that harm the planet, until the cows come home, we all need to stop doing it. And we need to do it because it's the right thing to do - it is important, it will help, every small step does.

So today my friends, I want you to commit to your change. I want you step up today and decide that even if you haven't done anything yet for your planet, and especially if you have, today I want you to tell me in the comments box what small step will start or continue you along the road to a greener life. I want you to tell me about your change and how it will affect your life. Please don't close this blog down now and walk away. Today is the day when instead of just knowing that something needs to be done, you start doing it.

I commit to stop using tea bags. From now on I will use up the organic black tea bags I have in the pantry, then I will only buy loose tea. I have some metal tea containers that I can use loose tea in that will be similar, but not quite as convenient, as a tea bag. Loose tea is cheaper and better than tea in bags, so I win on that aspect, but if lack of convenience is the price I pay to stop wasting all that filter paper, string, a label and one staple for every cup of tea, that, my friends, is the price I will pay

I want every one of you to email this post to a friend so we can get a million small steps happening. I want you to help me tell as many people as possible that we are doing this. And, most of all, I want to know what you will do.


  1. We have stopped using the dishwasher and dryer completely. Also, I have hidden away the paper towels and paper napkins and am replacing them with homemade knit/chrachet clothes and cloth napkins. We are showering every other day and keeping the house a bit warmer for the rest of summer and fall, 78 degrees (We'll keep it cooler in winter 65 degrees) Next, I want to find one of those screen coffee filters so I can stop using the paper ones. All these are committmens for the month of September. We are really trying.

  2. good on you leemomofthree, it makes me so happy to read of your commitment. : ) Changing your thermostat and lowering the temp on your water heater are really good changes that make a big difference. So well done!

  3. I have been and will continue to compost as much household waste as I can. I have also been saving all the paper towels I use at work and shred them and add to the compost pile as browns. I am planning to attempt a worm bin over the winter to keep in the habit of it.

  4. excellent Patrik. That's great, mate! I hope you have a win with the worm bin. : )

  5. I too have stopped using tea bags, only tea leaves. Also, showering every 2nd day. The last couple of months I have stopped buying bread in plastic bags at supermarkets and have started making my own bread, rolls and pizzas. If I have to buy bread I will only buy bread from a local bakery (and not wrapped in plastic). Rhonda, what is the best way to store bread in the freezer? Do I have to wrap in plastic bags? Also, if I make a loaf, how best is it to keep out for 1-2 days use? For the next couple of months I am going to explore how to reduce my useage of baking paper and alfoil in cooking. Although with modern pans and cooking tins etc I am finding it difficult not to line them to prevent the excess cleaning after cooking.

  6. I commit to reducing the amount of products I buy with excessive packaging.

  7. bella, freezing is the best way to extend the life of your bread, unless you want to toast it when it's a bit stale. I tried freezing bread in both plastic bags and a plastic bread box and the bread box worked quite well. You can buy a decor bread box from Big W. Your home baked bread may be sliced up when it's cooled down, then freeze it. You can also make up your dough, but only bake half of it, freeze the other half and defrost that to room temperature before you allow it to rise, then bake. You can also refresh stale bread by brushing the top with water, then heating in the oven for 10 minutes. It's great to read about your commitments, I wish you luck with your proposals, my friend. : )

    Yay Shell! excess packaging is a real problem and we should all be rejecting it. well done. : )

  8. I will continue to collect shower water to use to flush the toilet/water plants even though we have no water restrictions. I only ever use the half flush on the toilet ~ it works fine for everything!

    I WILL commit to buying less packaged/prepared foods and try my hand at cooking more meals from scratch ~ I've never had much confidence cooking!

  9. I have just started using all my washing up water for the tree bucket, we pump the 2nd septic onto the windbreak trees already. So i planted another 40 Mallees and this water is used for them. I also commit to not purchasing any new clothes for ourselves for the next 12 months with the exception of my sons school uniform, Im trying to get a hand me down for that as well. Marlo PS My order of Home Comforts came into the library today and Im looking forward to reading it.

  10. I have found there are a few things that I am very resistant to change and it bothers me that I am finding it so difficult to give these things up. #1 is hairdye, at 46 I am almost completely grey(or I would be if I didn't dye my hair continuosly) and cringe at the thought of living with grey hair. I would like to stop this but am not sure I have the confidence to do it.
    Anyway things I have changed are, no dishwasher, much less packaged food, being very diligent with recycling everything possible, recycling grey water, turning off lights and being very aware of power used. The big one for me has been reducing my driving by about 40%. I always take my greenbags shopping too.

    I do use teabags but they don't have strings or tags and I reuse them. Most of the time I make tea for one but I think when I am making tea for two I will change to tea leaves. After all I do have some lovely teapots:)
    This month I will remember to always take a knife and fork to work with me so that IF I have dinner at work I don't have to use their awful plastic ones.

  11. Since I work at home, my list is easier to do.
    1. I try to only drive in to town for groceries every 2 weeks. That's the only place I drive.
    2. I do not use the dryer at all as it is broken. Even so, if it were working, it would be used little as it is one of the most expensive appliances to use (electric wise).
    3. I only cook once a week.
    4. I only run the dishwasher once a week; however, I'm the only one here.
    5. I store all of my dry goods (i.e. flour, sugar, pasta, rice, etc.) in pre-used glass jars. Any glass jars I cannot use, I donate to the thrift shop.
    6. After cleaning out my freezer, I will fill empty milk jugs 1/2 way with water and place in the freezer. Once they freeze, the freezer will not be wasting energy cooling empty space.

  12. I have stopped using paper towels...we put up a bag dispenser in the towel dispenser's place and I have filled it with clean rags to be used and reused. A small, easy step for us.

  13. Stopped using paper napkins and towels as I have lots of cloth ones picked up at thrift shops. Have cloth shopping bags so I don't have to bring home any plastic ones. I use washtubs and handcrank wringer instead of my washer. Clothesline instead of my dryer. We have our compost pile. We heat with wood that we cut ourselves from fallen trees on our property or where someone has trees down and lets us cut for free. Make our own soap, detergent, bread,and cook from scratch. Feed the goats and chickens scrapes from the kitchen and things pulled from the gardens when weeding are clearing out. Papers are shredded and used for bedding in the rabbits houses.Lightbulbs have been replaced with the energy smart ones.Even though we have our own well water we conserve by placing a brick in the toilet tank to cut back on the amount of water to fill the tank. Water from washing dishes and clothes is used to water plants. Having our own milk and eggs means I don't have to brink home those plastic milk jugs or foam egg cartons. In cool weather I enjoy lighting my lamps instead of turning on the electric ones. Each day I try to think of something else I can do and now with your post I have lots of ideals from everyones comments! thanks for another great post. I will use your post in my blog today insead of emailing so I can reach more people. If everyone does one small thing today our world might just have a chance!

  14. I joined the 90% Reduction Challenge in June, and have found it to be very challenging indeed.

    I will give up all disposable pens for one nice fountain pen that can be refilled.


  15. I'm just pretty new to all this, but since I have decided to live more simply I have;

    Stopped using my dryer
    Turned everything off at the power point
    Heater is now off (spring here and we have jumpers)
    Water is being recycled (that is something I have always done, probably the one thing that started me on this *quest*)
    Started a vegie patch
    Started looking for alternate things that are recycled instead of new (i.e. a milk crate for a step instead of buying a new one)
    Scouring second hand shops FIRST for things instead of last

    So far so good I think - but small steps will turn into big changes.

  16. *A new recycling center has opened near us so my new goal is to recycle cardboard boxes and paper. We have already been recycling glass, plastic, newpaper & cans but will add to the list.
    *Seldom use my dryer in nice weather & use the clothesline instead.
    *Use the compost bin more often~ sometimes I get lazy
    *Lots more things I can be doing. Thanks for a such an inspiring place!!

  17. I so agree that if we all did something our environment would be so much better. We are a family of 5 and we recycle everything! We have three huge bins that are always filled. Plastic sandwich bags get washed and re-used again and again. We use cloth napkins. I do not use the car I walk everywhere during the week, weekends are harder. I would love to compost, but I am not sure how to go about it...any ideas? Can I still compost during the winter? I also have made a deal with myself no clothes shopping until spring and that includes second hand.

  18. Karen said...

    ... today I de-cluttered an old towel, unused for 1-2 years and turned it into 6 rags for cleaning.

  19. this is my month for stopping the use of plastic grocery bags. i've gotten some canvas ones and am making some little mesh bags for produce etc.
    we've stopped buying paper plates, nakpins and paper towels.
    i've let go of my van (finally) and will be carpooling with a daughter to do my errands and shopping. the only vehicle we own now is my husbands work truck.
    continuing to compost everything the critters don't eat and we're starting up our worm bin asap.

  20. We stopped using the dryer and the dishwasher, paper towels are now used for cleaning up hair balls only. I use cotton rags for cleaning. We stopped buying bottled water and are using a filter system instead since our tap water tastes awful. Once the paper napkins I still have are used up we'll switch to fabric ones. Have been using a permanent coffee filter for a while instead of paper ones. Where we currently live we cannot recycle but we are going to move next weekend and at the new place we can and will recycle. We stopped using plastic grocery bags, the paper ones hold a lot more and can be re-used. I am using baking soda, lemons and vinegar for cleaning as much as possible. And I am going to start growing my own veggies next year.

  21. We have changed all of our light bulbs to CFL and turn off all lights, TV's etc when not being used. This alone has cut our Electric Bill by 1/3rd.
    We use fabric bags for shopping and reusable containers for our lunches at work.
    We recycle and green bin and only have one small bag of garbage that goes to the landfill every 2 weeks.
    Today I am going to pick up some material sew some napkins so we can stop using paper ones.
    I am also going to bake our own bread so we don't have to buy bread from the supermarket.

  22. Hi Rhonda Jean, well, I do many things but I am working on not stopping in the thrift shops so much! Even if I only spend a few dollars, if I don't need the item why am I buyng?? Also, to be more diligent about composting EVERYTHING I can. I have used cloth napkins for years and once a visitor said, "You must LOVE to do laundry!" Funny how such a little thing as a few extra napkins in the wash can seem like hard work. Thank you so much for all the ideas and inspiration, dee

  23. Hi RJ, I'm back to your energy challenge awhile back, but haven't refound that post... I didn't read our meter, other things came up, but our KWH use is listed on our utility bill on how we are doing now to a year ago this time. Our recent bill came and it appears that we've used on average just under 7 KWH per day during the past month... Last year our useage was lower than that. I was wondering how that was compared to others but didn't see it here anymore. Online I found that in England average use is 14.1 KWH per person per day and in this energy saving website
    the guy says his household is down to 26 KWH per day... So I guess 7.7 is good for a house not off the grid, but still aim to do better by not using the computer & TV so much and keeping up with good habits gained... In winter, it'd be higher due to heat, so??? Hmmm...Still gotta think this through...

    (Wildside musing on...)

  24. I've had a few people email lately saying they can't comment as the comment box is wonky. I received this comment via email:
    Hi, I tried to add a comment this morning to your post about what I would do, but the comment page came up in some sort of asian writing that I can't read. Not a problem, but wanted to let you know that being inspired by your post on tea time, I have started taking my tea to work in a thermos to enjoy during breaks at 10 and 2. I have also decided that September is get back to the family dinner table month which will include meals made with local ingredients and cloth napkins. Thank you for all your insperation. Karen in the USA

  25. Hello everyone. I can't tell you how proud I am of you all for what you're doing. Keep at it and try to get your friends and family to start their own small steps.

    Wildside, 7 is excellent! I wish mine was that low, we are generally hovering around 10 or 11. Can you email me and let me know what you're doing? I'm doing a water meter post soon and will follow that up with another one on electricity and I'll cut and paste some of your methods into that post if I may. Thank you. : )

  26. This year I started our first garden and dug a big hole in the yard to compost food scraps. Use cloth diapers on baby-half of stash was bought second hand, most of childrens clothes are second hand. Follow 'if it's yellow, let it mellow...' Cook and bake from scratch. When bulbs die, replace with CFL's. Use a push mower for lawn, amongst other things.
    I'd like to start baking most of my things on one day, rather than heating the oven several times a week, stop using my dryer, build a worm bin-thanks for the helpful post, buy meat from local farms. I would also like to be a positive role model for friends who don't think about 'green living'.

    There are many more things, but this is enough to keep us moving in the right direction. Thanks for the inspiration Rhonda!

  27. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I forgot to add that for Christmas this year, I'm giving each of my family a basket. It will contain: Cloth napkins, homemade environmentally cleaners (laundry soap etc) with instructions that I will refill the containers for the year, homemade fabric softener sheets, crocheted dishcloths etc.
    This way it kind of shows them how to be more environmentally friendly without having to do anything to start.

  28. eva, well done. I think positive role models can encourage huge changes. If you can be a positive role model for your family and friends, you'll probably encourage them to follow your green foot steps. : )

    Paula, what a great idea - I love what you're including. I'm sure your baskets will be a big hit. It's a good way of combining a green gift with the gift of encouragement.

  29. I am using cloth napkins now, baking our own bread, recyling all sorts of packaging, re-using worn out clothes, no paper towels, hanging more clothes out to dry, not watching any TV, going on walks every day---incorporating trips to the grocery or the library, only buying books that I really love, making all my baby's toys (safer that way---ya know?!!) and composting as much as I can. We are switching to local goats milk bought from a friend, and I really want to start with a couple of chickens next spring.

    That's all for now!

  30. mrs mk, wow! how fabulous. You're doing really well. That's excellent. Remember to tell everyone who stands still long enough what you are doing and why. : )

  31. Dear Rhonda Jean; Thank you for this post. Today, I was almost tempted to use my dryer b/c I am so behind with my laundry. First week of homeschooling, back from vacation, etc. Then I read your post and I am so glad I stuck to my guns and said no. I have been slacking off this past couple of weeks, buying bread in plastic wrappers, using paper towels, but I am certainly on-track now. Thank you Rhonda Jean for this post, and for all the ladies that have left their comment. I now feel more motivated than ever to get back on track.
    Blessings, Maria S.

  32. This month I am working on my water re-use strategies. I already have a bucket in the shower and have been bucketing the rinse water from the washer to water my garden. Today I purchased a couple of washing machine diverter hoses to make it easier to get the water outside. I am also going to make myself some mesh bags to further reduce my use of plastic bags (already have shopping bags for the groceries). Do not own a clothes dryer, instead I spent the money on a fold down clothes line under my back verandah. If the clothes are still damp in winter I hang them on the clothes horse in the loungeroom - where the heater is.

  33. I've also put a post on my blog of some more things I do to be "greener" and put the challenge out to my blog readers to do the same :) Thanks for the inspiration Rhonda.

  34. Rhonda,
    I must be honest to say that my simple living is focused due to my chronic health issues (less physical energy used, downscaling & not wanting to have to run out for something all the time). I have found with my illness that I have little precious energy and I don't want to spend it all on taking care of things! Being green is a another important benefit, just not primary.

    Some things I do:
    * We own 1 car and I use it only once or twice a week to do errands. Otherwise, I stay home.
    * Lessening paper usage (not totally there yet) but I am using cloth napkins. With paper towels, I cut them to make last longer. Won't give up t.p. though. :)
    * Have compact energy saving lightbulbs in majority of the home.
    * Cook only from scratch and right now only am using a crockpot, stove top, indoor grill and toaster oven to cook all meals (no big oven).
    * Paring down my belongings little by little with no intention to buy unless needed.
    * Did some small gardening this year - lettuce & herbs.
    * Using library again (I love books & am trying not to buy more.)
    * Reducing usage of dryer
    * Set computer to sleep if I plan to still use; if not, turn off.

    I know there's more, but that's off the top of my head. Great topic.

  35. I am just getting ready to order tea, and since reading your post I will be ordering just loose tea instead of bags.
    Thanks Rhonda!


  36. At our house we recycle paper, cans, plastic and glass. DH has recycling bins at his work and our town has a recycling center. We planted our first garden this year, tomatoes and hot peppers. I'm already expanding for next year. We've been composting for three years now, so no scraps in the garbage. What we don't compost goes to the dogs. We started using cloth napkins at the table, trying to cut back/quit on the paper towels, but DH is hard to change. I've recently made a conscience effort to shut off the water when I brush my teeth. I'd like to figure an alternative to plastic wrap in the microwave. We wash dishes by hand and use the dishwasher as a dish drainer. I've got a clothes line, just need to do laundry on the weekends during the daytime so I can hang it all out. There's more, but this is long already. I'll keep thinking. Thanks for the impetus.

  37. Hello Maria, resting temptation is good for the soul, so well done. How are you drying your clothes? Do you have a clothes line?

    Lisa, that's excellent. Some great steps there. And thanks for helping spread the word. People need to know this stuff! : )

    Lyn, well done!! Especially as you're not in the best of health. Keep up the good work, friend. : )

    Hi Debbie, good to read you're changing to loose tea too. Us swap partners need to stick together. ; ) How will you take your tea now - in a teapot or do you have the little metal tea bags?

    Jules, you're well on the road to a green future too. Excellent! I replaced plastic wrap in the microwave just by putting a bread and butter plate over the bowl. It keeps the steam in and stops splattering on the walls of the microwave oven.

  38. My changes for the month....
    - I'm making a new set of cloth napkins tomorrow.
    - Pulling out the box of cloth diapers and using what I have on the new baby (we just moved)
    - Making my first dishcloths. I've always crocheted a lot and am leaning to knit but haven't done one yet
    - I'm really fascinated by doing an energy audit so this month I'm going to learn how to read the meter and understand WHAT that means lol and then do a two week audit.
    - Hubby just brought me home some wood palettes from work and am building the new compost bin
    - I've been starting to keep the thermostat turned up higher.
    - All sorts of great changes and more I'm sure. Thanks for the inspiration!


  39. well done, Kim;. Lots of changes at your place. Keep up the good work. : )

  40. I am going to do the same as you and stop buying tea bags.

  41. Here in India its different we still use strainers for our daily tea and we rarely use tissue rolls or kitchen paper other than when i deep fry stuff to remove excess oil. I normally use small pieces of old towels or small pieces cut from old bedsheets...


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