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Case Study> Maintaining a Sustainable Household with Mary

Maintaining a Sustainable Household with Mary:
Mary Schroeder

Mary Schroeder has many dimensions to her life, just as anyone else would. Along with juggling working for a construction company running their office, maintaining her own organic clothing business, and being a wife as well as a mother, she manages to live a green lifestyle which shines through in her own household.

The Schroeder Family
“Going green” isn’t an easy change. Mary’s change to becoming green and implement sustainable living into her own life began after college and has become a way of life for her and her family both. Read how Mary started and how being “green” and sustainable shines through in almost every aspect of her life, including her work!
Organic Clothing
One of Mary’s sustainable initiatives is making organic clothing, especially for children. Learn why switching to organic clothing is not only supporting a healthier economic initiative, but how it is making the environment and your family healthier, especially babies and young children!
Farmland Preservation
Learn the importance of farmland preservation, especially to Lancaster County! Farmland preservation is a significant initiative of Live Green in Lancaster City. Farms are part of the Lancaster County heritage. Learn the importance and the mission of those organizations supporting it.
Buy Fresh Buy Local
Buying local guarantees freshness. The Lancaster County chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local not only supports local farmers markets, restaurants, and families, it educates Lancaster County residents on the importance of buying food that is locally grown. Local equals fresh, and fresh equals delicious!
Green Aspects of the Schroeder House
People say bigger is better, but if you’re trying to leave a smaller footprint, smaller is the way to go! Read about the Schroeder household and how sustainable living can be quite warm.
Green Food
From Community Supported Agriculture, to Buy Fresh Buy Local, to Central Market, read how Mary supplies healthy food for her family while supporting the local economy.
Community Supported Agriculture
Read more about Community Supported Agriculture and why it can be a great healthy investment for the summer months! Learn what kind of food you and your family would get, along with how much it costs to be a shareholder. Also, learn about Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative which is a local Community Supported Agriculture.
Planting a Green Garden
Native plants are important to our habitat. Read how Mary chooses to plant native plants in her own garden! -- Lose the hose! Read about rain barrels and how they can be both art and a water source for your own garden at home.
Driven to Be Green
We’re always hearing about new cars on the market that get great gas mileage and are less harmful on the environment. The Schroeder family not only has a car that gets great gas mileage, but they own a car that uses used vegetable oil from restaurants for fuel.
Worley & Obetz and the Bio-diesel Concept
Where can you get fuel for a car that is designed to be environmentally friendly? Read about Worley & Obetz, their initiatives to provide clean and renewable energy, and how they have fueling stations all over Lancaster County!
Running a Green Household
9 tips for “going green” and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Learn how Mary makes small changes that leave a huge impact in her own home. These changes are so simple, that even you can do them too!
Green Words of Wisdom
Nobody is perfect, but even the smallest sustainable choice can make a significant impact! Mary gives some great advice about a sustainable way of life.

The Schroeder Family

Mary Schroeder acquired her green lifestyle when she moved to Oregon after college. Oregon was a significant change because their way of living was already “green” compared to that of the lifestyle of Pennsylvania. Now that becoming “green” has swept the nation, there are many more lifestyle choices available for those individuals and families who choose to be a little greener in their households and way of life.

The Schroeder family consists of Mary, her husband Fritz Schroeder, and their son. The family resides in a small home right along the Conestoga Creek. Mary runs the office for a construction company. She also runs her own business, Creekside Studios, in which she makes and sells organic clothing. Creekside Studios is Mary’s passion. Creekside Studios sells clothing for infants through adults but focuses specifically on children’s clothing and the aspect of trees. There is a threefold wisdom of the tree. The leaf wisdom is of change, ever releasing, the branch wisdom is of growth, ever reaching, and the root wisdom is of endurance, ever deepening (Creekside Studios).

Mary’s husband, Fritz, is the Director of Live Green in Lancaster City. Live Green implements and supports initiatives that have measurable impact on the livability and environmental sustainability in Lancaster City ( Live Green creates projects such as the rain barrels, and focuses on green aspects such as energy efficiency, farmland preservation, and buy fresh buy local.

Organic Clothing

We are a society constantly changing due to the information we learn and are exposed to each and every day. We learn information about the harmful pesticides in our food, and we choose to be organic. Cotton is one of the most significant crops grown for the production of clothing. Like any crop, the farmers use chemicals and pesticides to treat it, but because the cotton crop is not food, the chemicals and pesticides used to treat the cotton crops are not regulated.

You may be thinking “we don’t eat cotton; we wear it”. This is true, but when it rains on the chemically treated cotton crops, the runoff is detrimental to our water and even livestock. Along with the cotton crops, cotton production also receives a significant amount of harmful chemicals. Toxic chemicals such as softeners, brighteners, flame and soil retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde are all added to the production of cotton made clothing.

These toxic chemicals may not affect the skin of adults, but because babies’ skin is thinner and more porous, their skin absorbs things more easily. According to Johnson and Johnson, “a baby's skin is thinner, more fragile and less oily than an adult's. A baby's skin also produces less melanin, the substance that helps protect against sunburn. It's less resistant to bacteria and harmful substances in the environment, especially if it's irritated. Babies also sweat less efficiently than the rest of us, so it's harder for them to maintain their inner body temperature." This means that babies are more at risk for developing health problems due to pesticides, not only found in food, but found in their clothing.

The choice to wear, purchase, and even make organic clothing is all about a person’s lifestyle. Some people choose to be more natural and more environmentally friendly, and the choice to eat and wear organic comes along with their individual lifestyle choice. Choosing organic clothing is one less significant area in life where we are exposed to pollutants.

According to an editorial written about an organic children’s clothing boutique, the top ten reasons why organic clothing should be on a person’s shopping list are as follows: it helps protect your children, it reduces pesticide use, it protects farm workers, it protects water quality, it prevents soil erosion, it is a sturdier fabric, it saves you money, it feels amazing inside and out, it supports a true economy, and it supports a healthier environment. So if you’re looking to make a healthier change and contribute to supporting a healthier economic initiative, don’t just buy and eat organic, wear organic!

Farmland Preservation

Farmland Preservation is a joint effort by non-governmental organizations and local governments to set aside and protect examples of a region’s farmland for the use, education, and enjoyment of future generations. Lancaster Farmland Trust has a mission to preserve and steward the beautiful, productive farmland of Lancaster County that reflects Lancaster County’s heritage, supports the economy, nurtures health, and enhances the quality of life.

Buy Fresh Buy Local

Lancaster County Buy Fresh Buy Local focuses on locating farm fresh foods throughout Lancaster County. Lancaster County has its own chapter of Pennsylvania’s Buy Fresh Buy Local. Buy Fresh Buy Local in Lancaster County is specifically broken down into eight farmers markets, 28 farms, 4 restaurants/caterers, five retail stores, and two wineries and breweries. The Lancaster County chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local has a mission to increase the demand for locally-produced foods and strengthen our local food system by connecting Lancaster County families, farmers markets, restaurants, and other institutions with Lancaster County farmers.

The mission and initiatives of the Lancaster County chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local ensures that the public knows about the benefits of buying food that is locally grown. Consumers also have an increased access to local foods that are sustainable. Lastly, the Lancaster County chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local supports local farmers in finding local markets for them to sell their products in order to grow as a farm family. The concept of buying locally grown foods guarantees that the consumer is able to purchase food from local farmers that they know and trust.

Green Aspects of the Schroeder House

The Schroeder family lives in a smaller home. A smaller home naturally leaves a smaller footprint. Mary and her family have lived in their home for four years now, and have heated their home each winter with their wood stove. Surprisingly, the Schroeder family has only every filled up their oil tank once and spent only 150 dollars.

There are many benefits to heating your home with a wood stove, but just like any form of heat or energy, there are a few negative aspects. For the case of the Schroeder family, Mary is aware that using the wood stove gives off some emissions, but the negative impact is minimal compared to the negative impacts of oil and gas. Another benefit to using a wood stove to heat your house is that the cost to buy wood is very inexpensive. In fact, the wood the Schroeder family uses to burn in the wood stove is free so the use of the wood stove significantly cuts down on living costs.

Today, all wood stoves are required to be EPA-certified. If the wood stove has met the standards of the EPA, then the wood stove is considered to be environmentally friendly. Today’s wood stoves are also very practical and stylish in their design. EPA-certified wood stoves are generally more efficient than those wood stoves that are not EPA-certified. In fact, EPA-certified stoves use 65 percent less wood and give off the same amount of heat.

Green Food

Mary and her family became a member of a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, each year. The Schroeder family currently pays a $500 fee. They show up every week to a Community Supported Agriculture location and receive a designated amount of food from organic farms. Mary and her family get fed for about $10 to $15 a week. Mary and her family eat mostly vegetarian, but when they do eat meat, it is all organic.

The Schroeder family strives to eat locally. Mary’s husband, Fritz, helped start Lancaster County’s Chapter of Buy Fresh Buy Local. Mary says that most people don’t think about the packaging of the everyday items that we use, specifically food items.

In the summer, the Schroeder family gets their local organic food supply from the Community Supported Agriculture locations, but in the winter, the Schroeder family goes to the local market for locally grown foods and other items.

Central Market is Lancaster County’s go-to farmer’s market. Central Market is in fact the country’s oldest continually operating farmer’s market. It is located in Lancaster City and brings numerous vendors and consumers striving to buy locally. Everything sold at Central Market is fresh and is a significant part of Lancaster County’s rich culture.

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture, abbreviated CSA, is a vegetable subscription program where individuals and families purchase a share of the harvest, paying farmers in the winter and the early spring, and receiving produce in the summer. Lancaster Farm Fresh is a non-profit organic farmers’ cooperative. CSA members, who are also known as shareholders, will receive a share of vegetables and fruit each week for 28 weeks during the summer. May and June shares consist of greens, mushrooms, and radishes, while the later summer and fall month shares consist of cabbage, tomatoes, and peppers.

There are several types of shares according to the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. They offer four different types of shares including, two types of vegetable shares, a fruit share, and a flower share. The prices also range as well. The first vegetable share is referred to as a full share which is $725. The second vegetable share is referred to as a half share and is priced at $420. The fruit and flower shares are both full shares. The fruit share is $120 and the flower share is $200.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative has several locations where the food shares can be picked up. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative also breaks down each share into what the CSA member is receiving for that week. A typical full vegetable share consists of one watermelon, a bunch of scallions, one head of romaine lettuce, or eight tomatoes. A typical full fruit share consists of one variety of fruit each week.

Planting a Green Garden

Mary focuses on planting all native plants in her garden. Native plants are defined as “a plant species that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, and habitat without direct or indirect human actions.” Mary plants native plants in hopes of weeding out the invasive plants which are detrimental to the local habitat. Invasive plants are defined as “a non-indigenous species that adversely affects the habitats they invade economically, environmentally, and ecologically.” According to iConserve Pennsylvania, invasive species, poor planning, overdevelopment, and other factors are contributing to the loss of native plants. Mary plants native plants in hopes of preserving her own local area. Native plants not only provide benefits to the environment, but they can live in their habitat without much care which reduces the need to water the plants as well as fertilize them.

Mary also uses rain barrels in her garden to collect rain water and then use the rain water to water her plants. In using the rain barrels to collect rain water, Mary does not have to use a hose to water her plants. Rain barrels are defined as “a system that collects and stores rainwater from the roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.”

Mary not only uses rain barrels, but she also paints them. She currently has a rain barrel up for auction in from of Carmen & David’s Creamery in Lancaster City.

Driven to Be Green

Another lifestyle aspect that needs to be considered when considering green lifestyle choices is cars. Mary drives a Corolla. The Corolla has good gas mileage and therefore leaves a smaller footprint. Mary’s husband, Fritz, drives a bio-diesel VW Golf. The Golf uses a form of vegetable oil bio-diesel. Mary’s husband uses discarded vegetable oil from local restaurants. He converts the vegetable oil himself.

There is also an E85 Ethanol blend fueling station that is located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the towns of Lititz and Middletown. The service station is named Worley & Obetz’s WoGo. The service station sells a blended fuel that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. According to PennFuture, the E85 blend requires specific fueling stations like WoGo. The E85 blend can also only be used in flexible fuel vehicles, like Mary Schroeder’s husband’s bio-diesel VW Golf. According to the Energy Information Administration, there are over four million light duty flexible-fuel vehicles. This number is expected to grow over the next few years. The flexible-fuel vehicles use both the E85 blend and regular gasoline. If you’re thinking about making the switch, either check your owner’s manual or ask your dealer! Take your mode of transportation to a greener level, and take advantage of the blend fueling station, Worley & Obetz’s WoGo, that we have located here in Lancaster County.

Worley & Obetz and the Bio-diesel Concept

Worley & Obetz is driven in providing clean, renewable energy for both vehicles and heating oil systems. There are many benefits to using bio-diesel and even bio-heating oil. Firstl, they are the only clean fuels to meet EPA emissions and health standards. Bio-diesel, which is a fuel derived from organic materials, significantly reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to Worley & Obetz, “carbon dioxide is ‘taken up’ by the annual production of crops like soybeans, and then released when extracted oil is burned.” Bio-diesel is also very biodegradable and is less toxic than table salt.

Worley & Obetz support the use of AMERIgreen bio-diesel. AMERIgreen bio-diesel is a premium-quality clean fuel that comes from American farmers. It has completed the Health Effects Testing Requirements of the Clean Air Act. Bio-diesel can also be obtained at the WoGo fueling stations located in Lancaster, Elm, Ephrata, Lititz, and Manheim, Pennsylvania.

Running a Green Household

There are nine significant aspects of maintaining a green lifestyle that Mary suggests, just from managing her own “green” household.

The most significant aspect is that the Schroeder household does not own a clothes dryer. Clothes dryers are one of the biggest energy suckers in a household. Instead of a clothes dryer, the Schroeder’s have a large drying rack that they set up in their bedroom. In the middle of the summer, their clothes will dry within a day. Even in the winter, with the wood stove burning, the clothes dry within about five hours. Try using a drying rack, or if your backyard is more private, hang some clothes line and try drying your clothes that way, especially in the summer.

The use of plastic can be reduced significantly in order to maintain a greener lifestyle in a household. The Schroeder’s have significantly reduced the amount of plastic they use in their kitchen. Mary says that she has replaced nearly any item that was once plastic to something with more longevity and safer for our bodies.

To clean her house, Mary uses only simple, green, non-chemical cleaners throughout the house. These cleaners not only get the job done, but are better for the environment and for our living conditions in our households.

Plastic bags are another green lifestyle issue. To describe plastic bags in Mary’s words she says, “Ugh! There are so many!” Mary has a stash of bags in her trunk so that when she goes to the store, she can use those bags instead of the “dreadful” plastic bags. If she only has a few items, Mary doesn’t even bother using a bag. Mary says that Chico bags are great because they can fold up and fit into a purse. She also says it’s great to use reusable bags outside of just the grocery store. She says that people are surprised, but ultimately everyone will catch on and start using reusable bags regardless of where they are shopping. She also says that if you do use plastic bags, always try to reuse them more than just once. Mary says that once you do dispose of the plastic bags, tie them in knots so that they do not blow away. Too many times, the plastic bags get blown into animal habitats.

The Schroeder family also strives to use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs. She says that her family focuses on using less disposable items and more reusable items. A Nalgene bottle works great as a reusable water bottle and any reusable coffee mug works fine, as long as you can use it over and over again!

Aside from plastic, Styrofoam is another huge aspect that can be reduced significantly in order to maintain a green lifestyle both in and out of the household. Mary says, “NO Styrofoam; It lasts forever!” Mary once walked to four coffee shops in Ohio before she found a place that did not use Styrofoam cups. She kindly told each coffee shop that she did not want their coffee because of their use of Styrofoam cups. Also, when Mary and her family go out to eat, before she asks for a take-home container, she makes sure that the container is not Styrofoam. She says that if there is any place that she goes to that uses Styrofoam, she actually brings them a catalog with alternative bio-degradable products that are affordable. She always tries to be gentle but firm in standing behind what she believes is right.

The lights in the Schroeder household are compact fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs save are more energy efficient and cost effective. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than regular incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are little more expensive than regular incandescent light bulbs, but in the end, you save more money and more energy in your household.

Mary and her family reduce the use of electrical items in their household. Anything that is electrical, such as the television, VCR, and stereo, is plugged into a surge protector. When these electrical items are not in use, Mary turns them off by simply flipping the surge protector switch.

One last but significant green aspect of the Schroeder household is that Mary does not allow her son to have plastic or battery operated toys. Toys that her son owns are also not made in China. Despite the fact that Mary does not want her son to have plastic or battery operated toys, she does support Bob the Builder and his “going-green” initiative. Bob the Builder now makes it possible for children to join in on saving the environment. Certain “green” shows focus on Bob and his team building a recycling center and a wind farm.

Green Words of Wisdom

Mary admits that her green efforts are not always perfect, but the impact that she makes as an individual and the impact her family makes is most important. She emphasizes that one person can take baby steps in living a greener lifestyle; one does not have to change their way of life overnight. If there is one green lifestyle aspect that Mary stands by, it is the food aspect. The food aspect is so important to her and her family because it affects her own health and the health of her family. She encourages people to make a greater impact locally, and consume less in today’s society.

Mary says that “I think most people feel like they are giving something up when they go green, but really it is just reframing our needs and the choices we make. Plus, with so many green products and ideas emerging, we are presented with quality choices.”
























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