We’re not the Begley’s

Plastics in the canOk, so if Monday’s post left you with the impression I’m the Queen of Green, I’m sorry for misleading you.

It’s true, I was ahead of the curve on the cloth bag initiative and that’s something for which I’m proud. It was simple, didn’t cost me anything but the initial cost of the bags, and it did save me some nickels on our grocery bills for the years we lived in KC, as stores there gave a nickel for every bag you used.

But we are far from being the Begley’s around here.

Like anyone we know, we live on a budget and “going green” has to fit into what we can afford.

While going green can save money in most instances, there are times when being environmentally friendly costs more upfront – and sometimes the upfront money just isn’t there.

For example, we drive a gas guzzling 4-wheel drive truck as we do live in an area where we actually need the 4-wheel drive. I would have liked to have purchased a 4-wheel drive hybrid, but they were out of our price range. We’ve probably paid more for gas in the long run, but $900 a month car payments just didn’t fit into the budget.

When I built my office last year, we did use materials to make it more energy efficient, but the most environmentally friendly products weren’t in the budget.

When we had to replace our hot water heater earlier this year, we had just used our emergency funds for a generator during the horrible ice storm, so we purchased the hot water tank that fit into our downsized budget, and it wasn’t even Energy Star rated. We probably could have saved some money in electric bills buying the more expensive model, but we’re also trying to live within our financial means.

Possibly the worst environmental infraction, or at least the one that drives me the craziest, is the bottled water.

I never was a bottled water person in the city, the tap was good enough for me. But here, our tap water comes directly from a well and we haven’t been able to make ourselves drink it, not knowing what how badly it might be contaminated.

We do have a small filtration system that filters the sediment, but the filtration systems we’ve found that would make the water safe of contaminates are expensive.

So, each week I spend .89 cents a bottle for the gallon jugs and $5 for a case of smaller bottles so my husband also has water at work.

Believe me, each of the 9-10 times I stuff a large bottle into the trash can every week, I feel a pang of guilt.

Sure, we take them in the recycle loads, but I would rather not have the need to create the waste in the first place.

My environmental goal in the New Year will be to find a way to eliminate the bottles from our lives.

Although I feel the guilt for the things we are not doing, going green really is not about being the Queen of Green all at once, but being aware, setting goals and doing the small things as you can.

What is one of your environmental goals for the New Year?

To all of my readers in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy being with your family and loved ones!

On Friday, I’ll be offering a giveaway that I think my readers will enjoy. Hint: It is in line with this week’s posts and it involves a cool book!

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20 Responses

  1. Pat Meadows says:

    Hi,

    We too live in a very small house (570 sf for two people, two good-sized dogs, and one cat. Thankfully, we have an oversized garage for storage as there is essentially no storage space in the house – we bought the house; it’s about 60 years old.

    I agree with a lot of your points about living in such a small place. Neatness is absolutely ESSENTIAL. Plus being clever about where to keep things. Since we need to store things wherever we can, we tended to forget where we had put them. I now have a simple index card file of where things are stored, and find this very helpful indeed.

    We use a Berkey filter for our (questionable) well water. We use the black filters – the filters are expensive in the short run, but they last a long, long time and are not really expensive in the long run. They are certainly not as expensive as buying bottled water regularly.
    The filters are cleanable, you brush them under running water about once a month. We bought ours at http://www.jamesfilter.com . We bought the Berkey Light (plastic model), but now I’m sorry that we did not get the stainless steel filter.

    I enjoyed your blog and the MEN article too.

    Cheers,
    Pat

    • Kerri says:

      Welcome, Pat! Thanks so much for finding the blog. I’m glad you enjoyed the article in MEN.
      Great suggestion about the index cards. I was thinking the other day, “How can I lose something in a house so small!” and I’m planning a post on it. 🙂
      Thanks for the water filter suggestions. I’m definitely researching all of the options presented.

  2. JoAnn says:

    Just saw your article in MEN. Congrats. We moved into a smaller home (not as small as yours) and it has been wonderful. We have been drinking well water for the last 10 years and have had no problems. We did have it tested and it came back clean. Once you try it and get used to it you will be able to taste all of the chemicals in tap water. Even the bottled water will taste funny. Best of luck in your little home. We feel like we are on vacation 365 days a year.

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you for reading the article and visiting the site, JoAnn. That’s wonderful about your little house. I am very motivated now to get the well water tested.

      • Michael H. says:

        Testing is really easy and not too expensive. Check with your county or state water department to see if they offer the service. They can also tell you what you may need to test for. In our part of the country arsenic is fairly common in very minute amounts. We test our spring water every couple of years to make sure there is no bacteria contamination and the arsenic and selenium are at acceptable levels.

  3. webbcarol6 says:

    Hi, have you heard of the lifesaver bottle? It would allow you to drink your well water, save money and delete those plastic bottles. There’s a great video on youtube.

  4. Kim says:

    I’ve got two friends who swear by those Berkeys. So there’s a second opinion for you. And if you’re looking for a water bottle to replace the little bottles, I’ve read that flylady.net sells the best. (They’ll keep water ice cold all day in yoru hot car, for pete’s sake.) Don’t have one myself yet, but it’s on my “someday soon” list.

  5. Kathy P. says:

    Just found your website from the article in Mother Earth News. I can see I’ll be spending some time here. I thought I lived in a small house (768 SF)! Love your place, from what I can see in the pictures, and would be very interested in seeing more, with floor plans. Even tho my house is larger than yours, I’d like it to “live” better without “embiggening” it.

    Anyhoo, about the water bottles…even if you have to buy the gallon jugs at the store, you can get any number of reusable water containers now for your hubby to take to work. I bought mine on Amazon, they come in lots of different styles, colors, with insulating jackets, etc. I like ice water, so I searched until I found one with a wide enough mouth to accomodate ice cubes. As for the gallon jugs, grocery stores in this are have water filtering machines where you can refill your own jugs for less, once you own the jugs. So there are ways to make it less environmentally damaging. I had to buy drinking water for years until I could afford my water softener setup.

    Hope this helps.

  6. MarthaandMe says:

    We eliminated water bottles a few years ago and don’t miss them now (your situation is different obviously). We’re replacing the last of the old windows and front door in January, so that is our big green expense for the new year. Now if I could just get the garbage people to understand which is the recycling bin and which is the garbage can, we would be making some progress!

    • Kerri says:

      Putting in energy efficient doors is a big one! Don’t you hate it when you bother to sort the recycles and they try to throw it all in the same bin.

  7. Ken says:

    We all have to make tradeoffs, so we just do the best we can. Regarding the well water, I have found that the Berkey water filter makes just about anything drinkable. http://www.berkeywater-filter.com. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Kathleen Winn says:

    Kerri- David and I struggle with which energy efficient features we’ll be able to afford, if we build a house at our land. Like you and Dale, we’d love to load up our house with every energy conserving feature possible, but the cost of building a totally green house is probably beyond our means. I think you’re right though, it’s important to just do what is possible and make your best effort at recycling, reusing and avoiding waste. If everyone just did a few small things, it would add up to big benefits for the planet. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  9. kerri says:

    Doing our best is what it’s all about! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you to, Mary!

  10. Kerri, great honest blog. We all do the best for what we believe in. The important thing we continue to do our best. Happy Thanksgiving