Thursday, January 8, 2009


Happy 2009! A new year has begun and I have resolved to continue the greening of my daily life. I'm actually on two different New Year resolution diets at the moment. The first many of you are probably familiar with, it's the usual holiday weight loss diet (if you see me at the Parmatown Y, come and say Hi!). However, my other diet is the one that's really important. I call it my 'Oil Diet.' I want to reduce my oil and energy use as well as reusing and recycling when I can.

Below are some of the changes I've made along with some tips so you can start your own Oil Diet.

1. Shop local. Support local and small businesses whenever possible. Parmatown is a better shopping choice compared to buying online or visiting other area malls. I know if I'd been shopping at the bookstores in Parmatown vs. ordering from that the Barnes & Noble bookstore might not be closing. (Yes, that's right, the B&N at Parmatown is closing its doors as of January 17th.) (And yes to the first, I could singlehandedly sustain a bookstore. Yes to the second, I am not perfect either. I have lots of room for improvement in my Oil Diet.)

2. Buy second-hand items. Not only does this save money and put money into the local community, it reduces waste and saves energy.

3.Eat locally grown food and in season produce. In our area this is easier said than done. There are CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture) in the Cleveland area, but most have waiting lists. At the very least, if you can't eat locally grown food, sign up for the CSA waiting lists and mark your calendar for the farmer's market at the Stearn's homestead in Parma. The market usually starts in July.

As for in season produce, those berries shipping in from Chile are rarely as good as they look. (I know because I've bought them and been disappointed.) Instead, look for citrus fruits grown in the US along with pears and apples.

4.Walk or bike instead of driving. This is a daunting task especially in winter, but it can be done. Just the other day, we took the baby and dogs on a walk to our local Rite Aid. I ran in with the baby to pick up a few essentials while my husband waited outside with the dogs. Being January, it was cold, but we had a good time regardless and stayed warm with extra layers under our coats.

5. Plan errands and activities to reduce the amount of gas used. I often park between Kohl's and Target and walk from store to store.  Sometimes I even walk to Pet Smart. Little efficiencies like that count.

6.Turn down the thermostat this winter. I'm a huge freeze baby, but, even so, just adding a sweater or shawl has been enough to keep me warm. I haven't bumped the heat up once since turning it down as part of my Oil Diet.
For a gradual change, decrease by 1 degree every 1-2 weeks and get in the habit of adding another layer of clothing before giving in to temptation to turn the heat up. Just 2 degrees down in the winter (and up in the summer) saves as much as 2000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year. I just wish losing body fat was so simple!
7. Swap out old lightbulbs for energy friendly compact flourescent (CFL) ones. CFLS use 60% less energy than a regular bulb and save you money as well as 300 pounds of CO2 a year. In addition, if we all used CFL bulbs, we would conserve enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes and eliminates the equivalent emissions from 800,000 cars. Imagine, one little light bulb can be like taking almost a million cars off the road. Amazing!

8. Now that we've changed our light bulbs, the plan is to help someone else swap out their light bulbs. I'm putting together an information card to go with the light bulbs explaining all the benefits of CFLs. I'll do a post on the card I put together so you can copy it and  give out some light bulbs of your own.
9. Stop drinking bottled water. The plastic not only leaches nasty chemicals like BPA into the water, but the plastic itself is made out of oil. Instead, put a filter on the faucet and use a reusable bottle like the ones available from The bottles are available in several different designs. We use them and get tons of compliments about how pretty they are.

10.Grow some food this Spring. Raspberries are very easy to plant and cultivate. Strawberries are basically weeds with fruit; they will grow almost anywhere. (I am a champion plant killer myself and I even managed to grow several quarts of delectable strawberries.) Or plant a full garden. Size doesn't matter, big or small, just plant something you can eat this Spring.
Winter is the perfect time to find nurseries, seeds, and decide what you want to plant. This time of year, dedicated gardeners thumb through their seed catalogs and dream. Why not join them? I am!

Lastly, (and technically number eleven, but I'm trying to pretend that I only have ten tips) tell people about your Oil Diet and direct them to this blog. Share what worked for you, and, in a positive, non-judgmental way, encourage them to do the same.  

If this list seems overwhelming, take a deep breath and pick one thing to start with. You don't have to be a paragon of green perfection from day one. It's not about perfection, it's about change.

1 comment:

  1. So good to see others taking these steps! I would say we are good with all these points, except perhaps the one about helping others to swap out their light bulbs.
    BTW, thanks for following my blog (flow of love). How did you find me?