I’m having a quickie – The Five-Minute Shower Challenge

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Inspired by challenges put forth by Crunchy Chicken, and in hopes of motivating myself and others to treat our planet better, I’ve decided to do my very own green challenge. Aren’t you excited?! I am. 🙂 I hope that this will be the first of many challenges held here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

Now let’s talk water conservation. I saw a button on CafePress a few months ago that said, “If you think we have bad fights over oil, just wait until we start fighting over water!” And that, my friends, freaked my sh*t right out. I thought about my kids and their future and I knew I had to do something, anything right now.

Did you know that the average shower length is 8 minutes*? By reducing that to 5 minutes, you can reduce the amount of water you use by nearly one-third, or roughly 10 gallons per day. And that’s where this challenge comes in. I’m challenging all of my readers to reduce their shower time to 5 minutes. If you already take a 5 minute shower, perhaps you’ll consider cutting back a little bit more? Reducing the length of your shower by just one minute could save you up to 1,825 gallons** of water each year.

I honestly didn’t know how long my showers were lately. Some days I’m lucky to get one at all so it’s pretty darn short and sweet, other days I skip them on purpose (generally when I’m not leaving the house), and still other days (like when I have a migraine and the water beating on my neck feels good) I tend to linger in the shower a little longer than I should. I figured I spend on average about 5 minutes in the shower, but I got myself a handy Shower Coach timer (with a suction cup that sticks to the shower wall) to find out for sure.

My first timed shower, I rushed like a crazy woman to make sure I could do it in under 5 minutes. I got done in about 3 1/2. The next day I took a somewhat more leisurely approach and took the full 5 minutes. You definitely can’t dilly-dally, but 5 minutes is longer than I thought it would be and totally attainable.

So, what do you think? Can you commit to taking 5-minute showers (or shorter) for three months? Leave me a comment below to let me know you are participating in the challenge and I will add your name/link to a list of challenge participants in my sidebar. Feel free to join in the challenge any time over the summer. It’s never too late to sign up to make a difference.

I’m not going to be a total hard ass on this challenge. If you have a rough day and really need a longer shower (I’m talking like 8 minutes, not 15) every now and then to help you relax or whatever, you can still take part in the challenge. You just have to skip your shower the following day to make up for it. 😉 I kid, I kid. Seriously though, it’s up to you to police yourself on this challenge. I will have a check in post at the end of the first week of June (on June 8) so everyone can chime in on how they are doing with the challenge, post helpful tips, share stories, ask for advice, etc. Then I will try to have another check in post every two weeks (on Sundays) so we can encourage each other and maybe even inspire more people to sign up. 🙂

Oh, and if you are looking for some bloggy bling, I’ve got this fun goofy totally suggestive catchy button (above) for you to proudly post on your blog if you feel so inclined. 🙂 It will let others know about the challenge too. The more people join us, the better!

More Tips To Help You Conserve Water

In the shower:

  • Turn off the water while you are lathering up your body, washing your hair or shaving, then turn it back on when you need to rinse.
  • Replace your showerhead with a low-flow showerhead
  • While you are waiting for the water to warm up, catch it in a bucket and use it for watering your plants or garden or for flushing your toilet
  • Shower with a buddy 😉

Elsewhere in the bathroom:

While the challenge is officially only for the summer – June through August – it is my hope that you will keep up with the shorter showers and continue to conserve water year-round.

And now for the GIVEAWAY…

showercoach.jpegI’m giving away FIVE “Shower Coach” 5-minute sand timers, courtesy of USA Landlord. All you have to do to be eligible to win one is leave a comment committing to the challenge and your name will be entered into the drawing. Be sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win.

While you can sign up to take part in the challenge all summer long, the deadline for entering the contest is Saturday, May 31, 2008. The winners selected by Random.org and will be notified via email on Sunday, June 1.

If you don’t win a Shower Coach, you can buy one for less than $3 (plus use the coupon code CDG for 15% off any purchase from USA Landlord through the end of June) or buy a dinging kitchen timer the next time you are at Target, set your watch timer for five minutes, etc. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The earth, our children and I thank you for participating in the 5-minute shower challenge. 🙂

* GreenPrint Denver
** Utah.gov

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Green Tip of the Week #21 – Recycle Your Crocs

crocs.jpgCrocs. You either love ’em or hate ’em. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you love ’em. You love ’em so much that you wear them all the time, in fact, until the tread is worn out, but then what are you supposed to do with them?
Throw them out? No.
Donate them to charity? That’s better.
How about recycle them? Recycle them?! Yes, recycle them!

Thanks to Soles United – a Crocs program – your used, worn-out Crocs will be recycled into new shoes and distributed to people in need around the world. For more information, to watch a video about how it works and to find recycling locations in your area, visit Soles United.

Thanks to Forever Daisies for this green tip.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

P.S. Check out a great Green Party Supply giveaway over at Recycle Your Day!

Why Bother?

This evening as Jody and Ava were out running an errand for me, I attempted to cook dinner while balancing a miserable Julian (due to his four canine teeth coming in at the same time) on my hip. After much fussing (on Julian’s part, not mine), I took a break from cooking, sat down on the couch, flipped on the TV and, hoping to make the poor boy feel a bit better, nursed him.

In skipping through the channels it became clear to me why I rarely watch TV (with the exception of The Office, LOST and occasionally Oprah). There was nothing on. I stopped on the local public access channel long enough to hear someone talking about global warming. My interest was piqued so I lingered.

veg-garden.jpgIt turns out it was a woman reading Michael Pollan‘s recent New York Times article “Why Bother?” For those of you unfamiliar with Pollan, he is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food – neither of which I have read yet, but I’ve heard great things about both.

“Why Bother?” is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m nowhere near the point of throwing in the towel with regard to the things I do to help the environment, but after reading an article like Enjoy life while you can’ – Climate science maverick James Lovelock believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a scam and watching a YouTube video (which has since been taken down) about Monsanto, you might start to get a little jaded and wonder if all of your efforts are in vain. At least that’s where I’ve been at.

Pollan’s article “Why Bother?” was exactly what I needed to hear (and then read in full on the web since I missed the first half of it on TV) to help lift me out of my funk and I highly recommend you read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit of it.

If you do bother, you will set an example for other people. If enough other people bother, each one influencing yet another in a chain reaction of behavioral change, markets for all manner of green products and alternative technologies will prosper and expand. Consciousness will be raised, perhaps even changed: new moral imperatives and new taboos might take root in the culture. Driving an S.U.V. or eating a 24-ounce steak or illuminating your McMansion like an airport runway at night might come to be regarded as outrages to human conscience. Not having things might become cooler than having them. And those who did change the way they live would acquire the moral standing to demand changes in behavior from others — from other people, other corporations, even other countries.

Pollan goes on to suggest “find one thing to do in your life that doesn’t involve spending or voting, that may or may not virally rock the world but is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards. Maybe you decide to give up meat, an act that would reduce your carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. Or … for one day a week, abstain completely from economic activity: no shopping, no driving, no electronics.”

He also discusses how doing something as basic as planting a garden to grow even a little of your own food could make a big difference. This is another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. As the price of food goes higher and higher and we worry more and more about where our food comes from, organic vs. conventional (pesticide-laden), genetically-modified organisms, carbon emissions and climate change, it makes sense to me to try to grow some of our own food.

Pollan says, “It’s estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed) accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible.” Yikes.

I don’t have a lot of experience in gardening, but I did help my mom in our family garden as a child and, three years ago, some friends and I had our own plot in a community garden. As I embark on growing my own garden for the first time this year, I’m thankful for my friends like Julie of Chez Artz and Green Artz, Melissa at Nature Deva, Heather at A Mama’s Blog, and Woman With A Hatchet, who all have more gardening experience than me (and will hopefully help me out if I need it – hint, hint). I’m planting a small garden not only for the food it will provide to me and my family and to reduce our carbon footprint, but for the experience it will provide us all. Someday in the hopefully not too distant future (like next few years) once we move into a different house with a larger (and sunnier) yard, I’d love to have a much bigger garden. I’d like to know that if push came to shove and we needed to grow some of our own food, that I could do it. I am concerned that that day might not be too far off and Pollan agrees. “If the experts are right, if both oil and time are running out, these (growing our own food) are skills and habits of mind we’re all very soon going to need.”

But Pollan doesn’t end his article on a downer. Rather he is hopeful and his message is uplifting.

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

So, why bother? Because the future of humankind depends on it. Even if by some stroke of luck climate change doesn’t affect us during our lifetime (wishful thinking), I would hate to leave this huge burden and mess for our children to clean up. After all, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb

I think Pollan answers the question of “why bother?” best when he says,

Going personally green is a bet, nothing more or less, though it’s one we probably all should make, even if the odds of it paying off aren’t great. Sometimes you have to act as if acting will make a difference, even when you can’t prove that it will.

Here, here. That is why I will keep on bothering. And I hope you will too.

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Green Tip of the Week #19 – Power it down

shutdown computerTurn OFF your computer at night to save energy. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I admit that even I wasn’t doing this until just a few months ago. I figured once the computer went into sleep mode, it wasn’t using much energy. I was wrong.

By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. This will prevent carbon dioxide emissions from heating up the atmosphere (AKA global warming).

Even better than that is to turn off the power strip when nothing is in use because even when off, many electronic devices still draw electricity.

So power down your work computer before you leave your job for the day, especially before the weekend, and your home computer before you go to bed at night.

Jody heard this tip along with some similar statistics on NPR the other day. We couldn’t find a direct quote, but we did find the information above on 50 Ways to Go Green, which is a pretty awesome list by the way.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

Making Earth Day a Family Day

Earth Day is tomorrow, April 22. Founded in 1970, Earth Day is a time to promote environmental awareness around the world.

EarthWe’re getting a jump start on our Earth celebration today and heading over to Jody’s work (Google) for lunch; then they are busing employees and their families to some local ponds to plant cottonwood seedlings and listen to educational information about the ponds. I love the idea of getting the kids excited about and involved in celebrating Earth Day while they are still young.

What about you? What are your plans for celebrating Mother Earth? Why not get the whole family involved this year? Here are some ideas to get you started. Choose one or two for Earth Day, then select another couple more to work on in the coming year:

  • Plan a meal made only of local foods or make a meat-free meal – Use this as an opportunity to talk with your kids about where your food comes from and/or why eating a meatless meal is better for the Earth
  • Plant a tree, a bush, a garden or even some herbs or flowers in a pot
  • Spend some time outside – on a hike, a walk, at the park – enjoying each other’s company, appreciating nature, and picking up any garbage you see
  • Designate an “Earth Hour” every week where you turn off your lights in the evening for one hour to save electricity
  • Encourage your kids to round up some of their toys or clothing they’ve outgrown and donate them to a local charity
  • Visit a local charity or thrift store to see how items you no longer use can benefit others
  • Visit a local recycling center to see where all of the bottles, cans, newspapers, etc. go
  • Print out an Earth Day coloring/activities book for your children and work on it together
  • Take a trip to the library and check out some books related to nature – endangered species, water, plants and flowers, etc. – or books specifically about Earth Day
  • Talk with your kids about water consumption and how turning off the water while brushing teeth helps conserve it. Encourage all family members to take shorter showers or consider filling up baths with a little less water.
  • Change your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs to conserve energy and encourage the kids to turn off lights/TV when they aren’t in use

This is the only Earth we’ve got, let’s give her a li’l love. For more information about Earth Day, visit Earth Day 2008.

Be sure to check back here tomorrow on Earth Day for my big Earth-Mother’s Day giveaway!

Green Tip of the Week #18 – The Story of Stuff

This week’s green tip is to take 20 minutes and watch The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. With Earth Day just around the corner, I think it’s important to take a look at all the stuff we have in our lives and the The Story of Stuffstuff we might want to buy in the future and become aware of exactly where it comes from, what’s in it and who/what is affected by it’s production. Warning: This video will make you think.

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

After hearing about it for ages, I finally took the opportunity to watch it a couple days ago and I’m really glad I did. It’s a video I think EVERYONE should watch (yes, that means you and you too!) and reflect on the next time we go to make a purchase.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it. 🙂 Then come back here and tell me what you think about it.

Green Tip of the Week # 17 – No more phone books

I’ve gotten a bit lax in my green tips the past few weeks, but I’m armed with tips galore and will be bringing them to you weekly once again.

phone bookThese days we can look up just about anything and everything online. Does anyone even use their phone books anymore for anything other than a child booster seat? 😉

Did you know you can opt out by removing your name from thee pesky phone book delivery lists? It’s quick and easy and saves a tree!

Click the button below to sign the Yellow Pages Paperless Petition and Official Opt-Out Registry (includes Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States):
Click keys, save trees.

Locally here in CO, I’ve heard you can also call these numbers to get your name off the list. Not sure if this applies elsewhere in the US:
DEX: 877.2 GET DEX
Yellow Book: 800.929.3556

What do you do with all of the phone books you’ve collected over the years? Recycle them, of course! Check with Earth911 to find the phone book recycling center nearest you.

Just a reminder, Earth Day is April 22 this year. I will be doing a special Earth Day post/giveaway prior to the big day, so keep an eye out for it. 🙂

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

Can you turn off your lights for just one hour?

Planet Earth

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, people from around the world will join together for Earth Hour 2008 and turn off their lights from 8 to 9 p.m. (your local time) to reduce greenhouse gases and raise awareness about global warming.

Last year Earth Hour 2007 was a Sydney, Australia event where 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour. This year it’s getting worldwide attention and millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tel Aviv, will unite and turn off their lights for Earth Hour.

If your kids are still up at 8 p.m., you can make Earth Hour into a fun family event.
Candles

  • Light some candles (out of reach of the kids)
  • Have a “camp out” in your living room
  • Play a game like Hide and Go Seek
  • Talk about your day
  • Talk with your children about why you are turning off your lights for an hour
  • Try to do their normal bedtime routine in the dark or by candlelight (We did a dry run of this Monday night and Ava loved it!)
  • Go outside and look at the stars
  • Just enjoy the time together

And if your kids are NOT still up at 8 p.m. (lucky!), then by all means, enjoy a nice quiet candle-lit evening with your significant other. I won’t give you a list of activities. Surely you can figure something out. (Makes me wonder if we’ll see an “Earth Hour baby boom” 9 months from now.) 😉

Will you pledge to turn off your lights for just one hour?

  • Sign up for Earth Hour and then tell a friend or two. Together, our small actions can make a big difference.

Earth Hour doesn’t have to end at 9 p.m. on Saturday, you can incorporate it into your everyday life by doing little things like:

  • turn off lights when you leave a room;
  • switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs;
  • turn off appliances when not in use;
  • unplug things like cell phone chargers, the toaster, microwave and TV when they aren’t in use;
  • use less hot water;
  • switch to green power.

Every little bit helps to reduce global warming.

Hope you’ll join me and millions of others in the dark on Saturday! Don’t forget to sign up so you are officially counted.

Green Tip(s) of the Week #16 – Gift wrap ideas (and a giveaway)

This week’s green tips come from my good friend Heather at A Mama’s Blog, who just got a bloggy makeover and a new domain and is celebrating with a giveaway (more on that below). Heather’s tips are great suggestions for making gift wrap more usable and less wasteful.

  • Wrap a bottle of wine in a dish towel, tied off with a ribbon at the top. Bonus: the recipient gets a dish towel that can be reused, instead of throwing a mylar bag away.
  • Use a jump rope for the ribbon on an older child’s present. Bonus: they get to use the jump rope.
  • Recycle birthday, Christmas cards, etc. as gift tags. Cut out the part you want to use (make sure there is no writing on the back), and then reuse these the next time you need a gift tag.

what-happens-at-grandmas-copy1.jpg

To celebrate the fact that she moved to her own domain, Heather is giving away one of her best-selling What Happens At Grandma’s, Stays At Grandma’s t-shirt from her store Little Pumpkin Sweet Pea Designs! Stop in for a chance to win and to check out A Mama’s Blog. She discusses everything from attachment parenting to the reality of c-sections, from household projects to life with her two sweet boys. 🙂

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

Green Tip of the Week #15 : CFLs – a bright idea

If you haven’t yet changed your incandescent light bulbs in your house over to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), there’s no time like the present! CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!
CFL

“If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars.”

Legislation
At the end of 2007, Congress passed a bill banning incandescent light bulbs by the year 2014. Why it needs to take 6 years for the ban to be in effect is beyond me. In the meantime, you might as well get a head start and start switching your lights over now.

How much money can I save?
You can easily calculate your savings from switching to CFLs over at the One Million Bulbs web site. (Thanks to GrayMatters for the link.)

Where can I buy them?
You can buy CFLs at many stores like ACE Hardware, Costco, IKEA, Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot, just to name a few.

Isn’t there mercury in CFLs?
Yes, it should be noted that CFLs do contain mercury and one must take certain precautions in cleaning them up if they break and never use a vacuum (thanks, A Mama’s Blog). Also, if and when they burn out, they must be disposed of properly. “The US Environmental Protection Agency recommends that consumers take advantage of available local recycling options for compact fluorescent light bulbs. EPA is working with CFL manufacturers and major U.S. retailers to expand recycling and disposal options. Consumers can contact their local municipal solid waste agency directly, or go to bulb recycling or Earth 911 to identify local recycling options.” Also, some stores offer a recycling option right in the store. Please don’t just toss them into the trash.

If you are concerned about mercury, check out Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous? from Treehugger. The article does a good job of allaying any fears.

The bottom line is the benefits of CFLs outweigh the risks.

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂