I wish I could say that we've got the green living thing down pat. I wish our house was powered by wind or the sun, or that I walk or bike everywhere. No, although we have taken some steps to lessen our lives' impact on the earth, we are far from fully there. We drive hybrids, but that is as much about saving money as it is about lowering emissions. One of the challenges of living a greener lifestyle is cost. It's often much cheaper to buy non-organic food or even non-local food. A hybrid vehicle is a huge initial investment, and some have speculated that they won't necessarily save money in the long run because of their initial price. Want to buy something that is non-toxic or chemical-free? Often, it's more expensive. It's a bit like the debate surrounding eating healthier... fresh fruit and veggies are so pricey compared to the inside of the store. (Someone once told me that the healthiest t way to shop a grocery store is to go on the outside only, to get to the produce, dairy, bakery, etc. and avoid the inside, filled with delicious processed products.)
Anyway. One thing we are doing this coming fall is buying half a cow from a local farm that has grass-fed, Angus (mixed with something else) cows. (Yes, the family from "Jon & Kate Plus 8" also bought half a cow - that isn't what made us do it!) The grass isn't sprayed, so the beef is organic. The cows don't eat grain, so their meat is supposed to be leaner and healthier for you. More Omega 3's or something. Frankly I was just enamored by the idea of buying half a cow. Call me crazy. (and call me if you want the name of the farm!)
I'm also on the lookout for organic/local chicken.... but while the beef is quite reasonably priced, it seems that locally produced chicken is not quite as cheap. Local produce is somewhat more accessible in the summer due to the farm markets and such. I've been thinking about going to the Avalon Dairy store that Chris mentioned, but the hubby thinks Avalon milk is overpriced. I'm sure it's a lot more than buying Lucerne or Dairyland, but maybe the hormone-freeness of it is worthwhile.
On the home front, we changed almost all our lightbulbs to CFLs. Saving money, but again with a larger initial investment. We also signed up for a water meter and we are always looking for ways to save water. Apparently in our city, you are not actually supposed to have low-flow toilets - this is just anecdotal information though. So, we'll have to settle for shorter showers and such. I've stopped using my dishwasher because it sucks. SUCKS. I should have gotten a new one, but I was too cheap. Half the time, this one doesn't seem to open the detergent holder's lid early enough so the detergent just clumps up instead of being used. I do try to save water while washing dishes. I sometimes will fill up a sink with hot soapy water and then use the other sink for rinsing. Other times I pile up the dishes, give a few seconds of rinse, then wash them without much water, just a wet soapy sponge. I think it's a miracle that I do any dishes, though :)
We also have a front load washer, which saves a lot of water and detergent. The matching dryer, however, seems to take longer than the old one ... I'm considering whether to hang my clothes outside, but that seems too public, you know? Anyway.
Anyone have a great environmentally friendly tip?