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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (a very understandable escape from motherhood), it’s hard to miss the much-needed “green” trend that’s swept the world. As Christians, this takes on a special importance as we seek to obey one of God’s first commands to humans to subdue the earth and rule over it, mimicking God’s caring, careful rule of us.

The Proverbs 31 woman is only one of many examples in the Bible of a woman’s power over her home and how it’s used. As stewards—and teachers—of our family’s living patterns, we have cool opportunities to flesh out those commands in our own homes. I’ve started a very small list of not-so-hard ways to get greener, but the Web is full of ideas, and the comments section is open!

  1. A lot of detergents, soaps, and cleansers are hard on the environment and our families, and can create “super viruses” because they’re more harsh than we need. Consider purchasing green versions of laundry detergent, fabric softeners, and other cleansers. There are a lot more lately, and they’re a lot more affordable.
  2. Hang your laundry to dry, or throw a couple of tennis balls in your dryer, setting the heat down a little. The tennis balls cut down drying time by about 25 percent.
  3. A cardinal rule of green: What makes heat typically takes more energy. You save about five percent for every degree lower your thermostat goes in the winter (you can also program it lower for nighttime, especially if your kids don’t throw off covers). Take shorter showers, and install water savers in your shower heads.
  4. Use reusable shopping bags. Most stores offer them super-cheap—as in $1-3. Recycling plastic ones, though safer for animals than not recycling them, actually takes more energy. My reusable bags also carry about three times more groceries, which means less trips to the car with my kids doing who knows what inside the house.
  5. Now you’ll see how crazy I am … I started using cloth diapers. This option has really improved—no rubber pants, no swishing them in the toilet—and they’re put on as easily as disposables, with snaps or Velcro. Once you’ve paid for the initial cost—about six months of disposables—you’ll find yourself saving about $40 a month. (Weigh this more carefully if you live in an area where water is more precious than landfill space, but either way, dump solid stuff from any diaper in the toilet.)
  6. I’ve read that if every home replaced just one regular light bulb with an energy-saving bulb, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. Plus it saves you energy costs that far outweigh the cost of the bulb.
  7. Once it comes time to water your lawn and garden again, water at night. You’ll need far less water because the sun won’t quickly evaporate the water, which will instead soak your plants all night. As a bonus, you won’t have the sunlight’s reflection off the water scorching your plants.
  8. Wait to run your washer or dishwasher till they’re full.

I’ll stop there to save overwhelming you! For more ideas, there’s a free booklet to view online from the U.S. Department of Energy. Post your own ideas below; I’d love to hear them.

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3 Comments

  1. Julia DesC says:

    Great suggestions, Janel. I applaud stores like Kroger which actually deduct a small amount from your bill for bringing your own bags (I think $.05 per bag?). We also have motion-detector light switches in several rooms in our home, such as closets and the laundry room. The lights turn off after a few seconds of no movement. They also have an "on" switch if you want to override it. No more nagging the kids to remember to turn off the lights.

  2. Thanks for the ideas, Janel. A Japanese friend of mine pointed out to me that we Americans are so wasteful to use our dryers every day when God give us the sunlight for drying on most days. In technology-oriented, space-needy Japan, they find ways to hang out their clothes whenever they can.
    We also did the cloth diaper thing before the velcro type. Diapering time became a time of interaction for baby and me, especially as we had more children. I found that washing up with soap and water on a baby face cloth worked better than wipes. This works well if you have a counter next to the sink. When I finally started doing this, I realized that I was allergic to the wipes. The rash on my hands that I attributed to nerves turned out to be from the chemicals in the wipes.

  3. Great ideas. As a money-concious family of nine, we’ve used most of them, with great success. Another good idea is to run your major appliances at night when it’s cooler. During the summer it puts less demand on your air conditioner, and during the winter it adds a little extra heat to the house.