February, 2007 Contest: What are some of the ways you are trying to save energy in your home?

Congratulations to our contest winner!
Linda Baron of Corte Madera, California

At our home, we try to emphasize sustainability as well as using beautiful things everyday. Our pledge for 2007 was to “use no plastic bags.” We even put that message in our Holiday Cards, hoping to inspire our friends!
We bring our own canvas bags to the grocery store, to go out shopping, even to the pharmacy, and to the farmer’s market. Our children don’t eat out of plastic bowls, prepackaged food, or throwaway containers. It’s true that you can recycle plastic, but that still takes energy. It’s far more ecologically sound not to use it in the first place….
Besides, those pesky plastic bags are so unsightly and hard to store! This extends to our children’s lunches, etc: We use washable containers and water bottles, rather than single-use, disposable bags and bottles. And we avoid paper towels and napkins, by using good-looking cloth napkins for all meals. I bought beautiful silver napkin rings and had them each engraved with our names in a modern, san serif typeface; we each have a cloth napkin that we can identify; afterwards, they rest in a pretty woven basket. Our five-year-old takes pride in setting the table each night with the napkins, and adding fresh flowers or leaves from our garden. Rather than being an exhaustive, energy-draining process for parents, family dinners can be restorative, in and of themselves! That’s our story.
We live in Marin Cty, Northern California.