About two years into my marriage, Earth Day started getting a lot of press. There has always been a bit of the hippie chick in me, so I went gung-ho with trying to limit my impact on the environment. I searched for unbleached paper products like toilet paper and coffee filters. I stopped using paper towels and paper plates. I bought borax for the first time to use in homemade natural cleaning products.
Unfortunately, I didn't stick to my environment-friendly ways. Why? Well, for one, it costs more to be good to Mother Earth (at least it did back then). Just as knitting and sewing your own clothes became more expensive once they became niche hobbies, companies know that they can get more money for organic products from the truly enthusiastic.
Another factor that broke down my resolve was lack of convenience. It takes a lot of elbow grease to clean your tub with just borax and water! I know it sounds bad that I am putting myself ahead of the environment, but there it is. I finally had to be honest with myself. I was putting off chores because I knew they would take so long. My inner 50s housewife won out over my inner hippie chick, and I went with the clean bathroom :-).
I'm still interested in minimizing my impact. We use compact flourescent light bulbs and I still don't buy paper towels that often, but that's about it. Other suggestions I've read, like walking or biking to work, aren't really practical for me. The biggest contribution I can make is not to buy anything we don't need. The issue isn't dead, though. I'm still going to research ways that I can help the environment without annoying my family.