July 25, 2008

This month my husband and I began riding our bikes to work. To celebrate our shift (and our anniversary) he sold his racing bikes and bought us a couple of cruisers. They're the kind you might have ridden as a kid, with cushy seats, gigantic handlebars, and a kickstand. (His even has backpedal brakes!) This was a quantum leap for an avid cyclist who once teased me for not removing the reflectors from my mountain bike. (Extra weight! And SO not cool.) But it was part of his shift to thinking of a bike as a means for transportation, not just sport.

Now my 15-minute ride to and from work is the most carefree part of my day. Remember how it felt to ride a bike as a kid? That's how this feels. I can't help but smile. I actually look forward to my commute. And I made a tank of gas last THREE WHOLE WEEKS!

The point of this story is that going green doesn't always have to be about sacrifice. In fact, many of the choices you can make to reduce your eco-footprint are actually enjoyable, economical, and downright easy. Here are a few we're exploring:

A waste-free lunch: You might have read my post about the benefits of a bento lunch kit. In addition to eliminating disposable utensils and packaging, it makes portion control a no-brainer. Check out other attractive grown-up lunch boxes, and learn more about how to start a waste-free lunch campaign at your kid's school.

Reusable shopping bags: This seems so obvious, but ditching plastic grocery bags is one small act that makes a huge impact over time. Plus, with all the stylish and practical options on the market, why not? I love the story about the recent nationwide bag swap that our readers spontaneously organized on the Cooking Light bulletin boards.

Homemade baby food: It's really not that hard. I swear! With a steamer and a blender or food processor (or the Beaba BabyCook,a smart new appliance that does both), it takes me about 15 minutes toprepare a batch of homemade applesauce. I then freeze in covered icecube trays for instant meals during the week. Ingredients: apple.

Leasing a hybrid: My husband found that leasing 2 hybrid SUVs for his small business would cost no more (at current gas prices) than their current gas-guzzling utility trucks. If gas prices continue to rise, he'll actually save money.

Eco-friendlier diapers: I did a lot of research on cloth diapers, but couldn't find the time in my working-mom schedule to commit to them without a diaper service (our town lacks one). However, I did find some better alternatives to traditional disposables. Nature Babycare diapers are chlorine-free and biodegradable. gDiapers are a hybrid of cloth and disposable. Plastic-free flushable (or compostable!) inserts fit in a cloth outer shell. They cost a little more (between 7 cents and 20 cents more per diaper compared to a leading brand), but I think they're worth it. Both are available on Diapers.com.


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CONTEST -- Win an eco-bag!
Share your best go-green tip by adding a comment on this post. Add your comment by midnight on Sunday, August 2 (be sure to include your email address). We'll pick our favorite five tips and send the winners a reusable Chico Bag. (They stuff down into a little stuff-sack that fits in your purse or car cup holder.)

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