Monthly Archives: March 2011

Water: Going without the flow

If thinking green means getting back to basics, it doesn’t get a lot more basic than water.  Here in the soggy-wet, drip-dripping Pacific Northwest, water seems more than abundant. But truth be told, even here, clean drinking water, and clean watersheds for fish and wildlife habitat is getting scarcer and more expensive to maintain.  For you in dryer climates, who live far away from your  water sources, you may already  know the cost, value;  really preciousness, of water. No matter where we live water is an important natural resource we need to be better about saving. And, like so many other steps towards living greener, it’s pretty darn easy to start saving. Here are some of my favorites.

  •  Turn off the faucet while you scrub the veggies, brush your teeth, or wash dishes.
  • Fill the dishwasher completely before running.
  • Take shorter showers; and sadly – fewer baths (which use a lot more water than showers).
  • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don’t cost much, and both  water and energy savings quickly pays back your investment.
  • Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These too are inexpensive and save heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
  • Plant drought-tolerant native plants that need only minimal watering; learn which works best for your climate.
  • Install a 1.6 gallon toilet, or put a brick in the tank to cut down on water use.
  • Buy a water-efficient washing machine, and always wait for large, full loads.
  • Repair leaks, indoors and out.
  • Just be conscious of it pouring, running, or being “on” without need.

And if these all seem too easy for you, right on! Want to move to the next level? Try researching the environmental cost of maintaining a lawn, and what it would do for our national water supply if we found alternatives – from putting in hardscape to drought-loving groundcovers, or vegetable gardens. I’m game. Are you?

The dirt on composting at drugstore.com & TheNaturalStore.com

Talking about a green lifestyle is easy. Living the green actually takes some effort. As long-time advocates of composting, drugstore.com, parent to TheNaturalStore.com, began a composting program in our corporate offices in 2010.

We’ve been actively reducing our carbon footprint at our home office near Seattle, Washington for many years. While we’ve always been advocates of composting, it’s something that’s been difficult to actualize here in our corporate offices. Our biggest barrier was where to locate the compost receptacle. We’re in a high rise with little extra space. But after a discussion with building management and a subsequent grant from the City of Bellevue, we instigated a building-wide composting program. Each tenant received a unique container and biobag liners in their kitchen. Each day, the containers are dumped into a main compost receptacle where they’re collected by Cedar Grove Composting. Cedar Grove transforms food waste into nutrient-rich compost that’s sold in stores all over the country as well as at their Northwest facilities. 

We introduced this program to our employees with an informational brown bag lunch meeting. Cedar Grove, building management and our sustainability team was on hand to discuss the dos and don’ts of the composting process. Together, our teams learned which items are compostable (like food scraps & coffee grounds), which are recyclable (such as, plastic containers & cups) and which go directly into the trash (like plastic utensils & straws). The program turned out to be simple for our employees to grasp, and we enjoy knowing we’re making a difference in our community.