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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Janel Breitenstein graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University and began her career with NavPress, where she worked on The Message Bible. After having four children she resumed her professional career (around her momlife) by serving as a writer for FamilyLife. In January of 2012 Janel and her husband, John, packed up their family of six and moved to Uganda to serve with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), an organization that focuses on poverty relief and development, providing structural design and construction management for Christian organizations in the third world. Join us as we all learn first hand, through Janel’s posts, what it’s like to go from suburban America, to answer God’s call in Africa!