Sue Sherrill shares how she has established a greener household.
Commercial Composting A couple of years ago, I opened an account with Compost Now, a company which picks up my compost every week if I want, but I can usually get away with every other week, which reduces the cost. It is a commercial and industrial business, meaning it can handle bread, meat scraps, sea shells, and napkins in the compost, while backyard compost would attract animals if it included these materials. The company keeps track of the pounds of compost I give them, and will bring me bags of fully composted soil for use in my garden, based on what I have turned in. I used to try to compost in my back yard, but as my yard got shadier and shadier, it has become less practical over the years, providing incentive to go with this new company.
Greener Landscaping I have planted many native trees and shrubs in my landscape because they attract a diverse array of insects, birds, bees, butterflies, caterpillars, and native pollinators. They use less water, and generally don’t need extra care like pesticides or special fertilizer. They are not often carried in big box stores so they tend to be more unique than common landscape plants, and are also hardier.
I currently have a “no-fossil-fuel" lawn service. The owner trims my small lawn spaces either with a string trimmer or a hand lawn mower, and cleans up with an electric leaf blower. I try to keep my plants mulched, which keeps the weeds down. Generally I hand weed, I don’t use pesticides since it kills so many important insects, and I don’t use mosquito spray.
Eco-friendly Home Improvements Several years ago, I had a company complete several insulation treatments inside my home. There was a rebate from the City of Atlanta to do this. I had wall insulation installed, icynene foam sprayed under the subfloor, doors and windows caulked, more insulation in the attic, and a zippered tent installed inside the attic staircase. I have a Nest thermostat. I have taken advantage of rebates for low-flow toilets and a water-efficient dishwasher. I check the Energy Star status when I need to purchase an appliance.
Solar Panels A few years ago, Georgia laws changed so that having solar panels became more appealing, and financing became available. The first program I learned about was Solarize Decatur/DeKalb, which allowed group pricing so that the more people who signed up for the program, the less the kilowatt hour would cost. I had been interested in solar energy for quite a while, and wanted to get in on the program before the federal tax incentives decreased. I was able to sign up for this offer in time to get the solar panels installed on my new roof while a significant renovation was going on.
Greener Household Habits I unplug the toaster oven and coffee maker when not in use, as I understand they continue to pull electricity from the outlet when plugged in.
I run the dishwasher only when full, and I use the “light" and "no-heat dry" setting. That way, most plastics come through unscathed. Plastic-ware cleans well, and I can easily reuse it.
In washing clothes, I use cold water, and use either the light wash or permanent press settings. I haven’t noticed any degradation of cleanliness from these settings. When drying clothes, I keep an eye on the dial, since I know at a certain point, there are likely several things already dry. I remove and fold them, clean the filter, and start the dryer again. I never have to let it run all the way to the end of the cycle for the rest of the load to be dry.
Beyond County Recycling I pay $3 a week for recycling because DeKalb County is not currently taking glass bottles. I use Round and Round Recycling, the business operated by Michael Wall, who picks up St. Luke’s recycling for free. I just give him all of mine instead of setting it out two days of the week. He charges so little that I like giving him all of my recycling in the hopes that he can make a little more money from what I set out.
Auto Efficiency I drive a Prius, which saves gas, and I try to group my errands.