This means that we bring coffee and lunches in reusable mugs and containers - every day.
It means that we buy used when it makes sense and meets our needs.
It means that we will practice organic gardening, and buy our food and whatever else we can locally whenever possible.
It means that we use cloth napkins, and are slowly switching to using 100% rags instead of paper towels for cleaning.
It means we drive our cars for at least 10 years, and buy fuel-efficient sedans rather than big SUVs.
It means that we use environmentally responsible cleaning products (I'm still trying to wean my husband off Tilex though, this is a long-haul process).
It means that we make an effort to just stay home one day a week to reduce our driving and carbon footprint.
It means a lot more things, too many to list.
But then one day as I was lugging around the mop and bucket for our 2300 SF, hardwood floor filled house (I'll get to why we bought so much space in a later post), during one weekend where I'd spent about 4 of the previous hours cleaning, plus a morning of running errands, cooking/prepping meals for the week, etc, I hit a wall.
I was tired. Exhausted. We'd been renovating our old, much in need of love 1933 home, unpacking, clearing space for the garden, working in the yard, and so on for months on end. On top of that, we were trying to cook in, pack lunches, etc etc....and I commute 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. And my husband commutes 1.5-2 hours a day.
Clearly, it was too much.
I went out and bought a Swiffer Wet Jet. It was that or a cleaning lady, and the Swiffer was $23.00 plus refills, versus $200 a month. To this day, I'm not sure it was the right thing. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Environmentally, it's not something I'm proud of. I'm irked at myself every time I pull it out of the closet.
Timewise though, I love that little cleaning tool. I mean I love it. Adore it.
It's little, it weighs nothing. I no longer lug a bucket of water from room to room, except for those few times a year when we use Murphy's Oil Soap to brighten the floors.
Some of you may rinse out your mops in your showers or sinks to avoid the lugging factor. All I can say to that is yuck, good for you, but yuck. Not for me, thanks.
I've compromised with my conscience by periodically refilling the cleaning solution with a more environmentally friendly solution, and going a use or two before throwing out the pads.
I struggle often with convenience vs. the environment. Not a week goes by where I don't encounter a personal ethical dilemma about it. But I am trying to balance creative thinking about how to avoid environmental impact with respect for the little time we do have. Sometimes the answer is an imperfect one, like with my Swiffer. Other times I come across the perfect solution.
Now excuse me, I need to go mop the floors.