Tricounty News

It ain’t easy being green

Go green! Reduce, reuse, recycle! Be kind to Mother Earth. Protect our planet. The taglines promoting ecologically correct behaviors are as vast as our earnest plans to follow them.

We want to do what’s right, even if it takes a little more effort, so we bring our cloth tote bags to the grocery store and put our cardboard, metal and plastic into the recycling bin each week. We are doing our part.

Despite well-intentioned efforts to be green, we’ve become a throwaway society. I think many of us could learn a lesson or two from our parents and grandparents, who practiced green behaviors more out of necessity than political correctness.

Let’s start with the basics: water. You don’t have to be a tree hugger to understand water conservation is important for a healthy planet. So, the mindful among us take shorter showers and wash our SUVs twice a month instead of weekly. In comparison, Our grandparents shared bathwater, recycled the same tub of water for four loads of laundry, and drank tap water from a glass because the bottled variety hadn’t been invented yet.

Times have changed, but our need to be thoughtful about how we use our resources has not. With this in mind, I’ve put together a little quiz to assess our collective practicality and greenness regarding items – like buttons and screws – critical to our planet’s future. Be forewarned the test is highly unscientific, tongue-in-cheek and without any statistical backing.

#1. Those darn socks

Ever heard of darning socks? It’s what people used to do when they got a hole in their sock. Not many of us patch up old socks anymore. When I do the laundry and find a sock with a hole, I move the sock to my old sock cabinet where it will be used as a cleaning cloth on a mirror or sink. Pick the answer below that best describes you.

Pass the needle and thread. You darn holey socks – 3 points

You repurpose socks as cleaning cloths, hot pads or hand puppets – 2 points

You continue to wear socks even when your big toe sticks out through a hole – 1 point

When you see a hole in a sock, you say, “Darn,” and toss it in the trash – 0 points

#2. Button, button, who’s got the button?

My mom had an old peanut butter jar filled with buttons, for those frequent times in life when someone in the family needed a random button. When I finish a jar of peanut butter, I toss the container. I don’t repurpose it to hold things like buttons because I don’t save buttons – even the ones that come as extras with a new shirt or pair of pants. When my kids need a button, we have to buy one. Where do you fit in this equation?

You have a peanut butter jar (or any type of vessel) filled with buttons – 3 points

You save the buttons that come with new items of clothing – 2 points

You’ve never sewed on a button – 0 points

Bonus #1 – You have a jar of assorted screws in your garage or basement, because you never can tell when you might need one – 3 points

Bonus #2 – You have a pile of old cell phones sitting in a box or drawer – minus 2 points

#3. Foiled again

When you use aluminum foil to cover an item of food, what do you do with the foil after you remove it? Do you:

Combine it with a few of your extra buttons and create a metallic sculpture to give as a gift – 100 points

Fold it neatly and save it to use again – 2 points

Keep it on the counter to re-cover the food item, in case there are leftovers – 1 point

Throw it in the garbage – 0 points

#4. Paper or plastic?

Some people use cloth tote bags to carry their groceries. Which answer best fits your situation?

You always use reusable grocery bags. Wouldn’t leave home without them – 3 points

You bought a few of the bags, but most times forget them in the car – 2 points

You’ve never heard of reusable grocery bags – 0 points

You bought designer bags and use them only when they coordinate with your outfit – minus 1 point

#5. Give yourself one point per item if you reuse or repurpose any of the following: metal twist ties, plastic bags, peanut butter jars, packing peanuts, cardboard boxes, kitty litter, or your spouse (double points for repurposing a spouse).

Time to tally your score.

20 or more – You are either extremely practical or a pack rat. Maybe both. You make your own laundry detergent, or have seriously considered doing so. You dream of living on a hobby farm (or already do) with sheep and goats.

10 – 19 – You ride the fence and are probably better described as teal, rather than green. When your laundry detergent is nearly empty, you pour some water into the bottle and swirl it around so you can use the last drop. You own a dog and cat, both named Fluffy.

9 or less – You abhor clutter and send your laundry out to be done each Tuesday. You had a goldfish named Goldy once, but it died.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.