Starting to live Green? Follow Annalisa’s lead!
By Lois Ferris
Fun, Fabulous, and Fad-Free
For Annalisa Crannell, going green isn’t a fad. It’s a way of life. At age 43, Annalisa has many titles. She is a wife to an American Soldier, who is currently over seas. She is a mother of four children and a Professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she teaches Mathematics. Annalisa has also been a resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the past 17 years. The list could go on and on, but the last title I would give her would be, an inspiration to everyone that knows her.
Annalisa has learned through the past 13 years, that simple changes to your daily habits, can lead to a simpler, greener, and morecost effective way of living. She has been kind enough to share her experiences and tricks with friends and family, so that others can see how easy and fun going green, and living green can be! She brings a cool and fun wave of refreshment to the term “going green”, which has become abit drab. Even though going green can save money and natural resources, it has become a bit of a fad. You rarely see individuals going green for themselves. It's always for the environment, to look good for other people, or for other reasons. Annalisa lives green because it works for her life. This is the story about Annalisa’s “Green Living” because it really has been a part of who she has been for decades, and will continue to be a part of who she is for years to come.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes!
A normal day for Annalisa would be waking up, getting the kids to school, and going to work. She does all this, and walks the whole time. She walks everywhere, as much as she can. This was the first thing that she told me about her lifestyle. She is fortunate enough to own a home that is a block and half from the college where she teaches, so she can walk there. She is also in walking distance from her son’s school. She and her family walk everywhere. “Only 10 percent of the time people walk when they leave the house” That was a staggering statistic that this Mathematics professor hit me with, but not surprising in the least.
We are a consumer society. We want things fast, and we want them now, and with urban sprawl, sometimes we can't help but drive. “I had left my car in the garage for a whole winter, and the battery died because I didn’t drive at all.” The very idea of not driving seems beyond absurd to me, a city girl, born and raised in Philadelphia. We are always so busy! So how do we do it? Walking not only has environmental benefits, but health benefits as well. Driving means the emission of green house gases, which causes air pollution, which can cause respiratory problems such as asthma.
When you drive a car, you never know what will happen. You are the only person in control of your vehicle, and you cannot predict what other drives may or may not do. Commuting causes stress, which can lead to heart disease. Walking can reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and glaucoma. It helps manage weight, control blood pressure, and protect against hip fractures. Other benefits frequently cited include depression prevention, arthritis relief, stronger bones and joints, and a longer lifespan.
The spike in gas prices has also led city planners to take into consideration how to design and build cities. If there were more accessible communities, with stores, shops, and other amenities offering goods for consumers in a close compact area, walking would be a huge benefit to the neighborhood’s appeal. Using tools such as Walk Score, which helps people find houses and apartments in walkable neighborhoods, can help consumers decide where to settle down.
Hybrid cars! What are they? I didn’t know until recently. Hybrid cars use gasoline and electricity as a means for fuel. The battery recharges itself whenever the driver uses the brake, and the car decides which of the two forms of fuel to use when driving, depending on the situation, which provides efficiency. Annalisa owns a Toyota Prius, but doesn’t drive it much. “I went to use the car for the first time in a few months during the winter, and the battery was dead!” Annalisa was advised to run her car for at least a half hour every week, in order to keep the battery life fresh in the Prius.
Hybrid cars are just as easy to maintain as the conventional car, and may even cost less as well. They provide the same safety, quality and other amenities that you would find in a conventional car. The kicker is, you can save lots of money on gas when you own a Hybrid, due to the use of electricity as a fuel source.
In some cases, you may even be able to get a tax break if you purchase a Hybrid. The current Hybrid tax incentive program went into effect on January 1, 2006, as part of the "Energy Policy Act of 2005."This act could potential award tax breaks to individuals who purchase Hybrid cars as a way of helping to reduce environmental impact. The future of Hybrid cars is Hydrogen powered vehicles. Experts say that we are a far way off from this market (at least 10 to 20 years), but these vehicles will still be considered Hybrid, but will more than likely, use more than two energy sources for fuel.
Home renovations, Oh the possibilities!
Most people think that re-doing a house is a luxury, but for Annalisa, home renovations mean a bit of pain in the wallet now, but big energy savings in the future. “Redoing the house is a big deal, more than tens of thousands of dollars are being put into it, and its unlikely to see the energy savings from it any time soon.”
Annalisa’s home in Lancaster, Pa. is an old brick home, and it is 71 years old. This home was built when people believed that brick was insulation. About two months ago Annalisa’s house had no insulation. Now they are wrapping the outside in stucko, getting ready for the re-do.
Heating and cooling account for at least 50 percent of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation saves money and our nation's limited energy resources, and makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.Installing insulation causes heat to be trapped inside the house, so the temperature of the entire house can be consistent.
Insulating an attic is the only thing that needs to be done to a house now-a-days. But in Annalisa’s case, her home needs to be completely insulated, which can be pricey. The energy savings in the long term will be vast. Also, re-doing a home for real-estate purposes, adds value to your home, and if Annalisa ever decides to sell the home she has, she has an advantage to other homeowners in the Lancaster Region. Many of the homes here, are very old, and have not been updated. This will give buyers just one more reason to look at Annalisa’s home over the competitors.
Finding a Bargain 101
Finding a bargain is not hard; you just have to know where to look. Learning how to go "yardsaleing", and "thrift storing" are two essential skills that you must learn if you are truly making an effort to live green. When Annalisa told me that she recommends going to yard-sales and thrift stores, I couldn’t believe it! I thought my mom was the only crazy person I knew that did that! But, to my surprise, it's not crazy, and for a poor college kid, going to Goodwill, and coming out with a dozen “new” items of clothing for only 5 dollars, it is a rush you can only understand if you are savvy shopper.
I used to think that coupons were a nuisance and a waste of time. I can admit when I am wrong, and how wrong I was. You can save more money on coupons than I could have ever imagined. It's crazy not to take the time to cut and clip this money in disguise.
If you are unfamiliar with what a thrift store is exactly, let me enlighten you. A thrift store, is a retail shop, that people can go to, to buy used items such as clothes, house hold items, even furniture, that have been donated by individuals that no longer want them. Thrift stores can have some pretty amazing treasures if you are willing to look. My personal luck with thrift stores has been amazing. I found a leather Dolce and Gabbana bag for three dollars at a thrift store in Pittsburgh. Thrift stores can be a huge part of your life if you are starting to “live green”, and save money. It is the ultimate way to recycle, and its fun finding discarded items that you can use that someone else was throwing away! It truly brings the expression “one man's trash is another man's treasure” to life.
Depending on the store, you can find items that still have tags on them, items that are still in the box, or even items that have never been used before. When talking about reducing environmental impact, buying items at a thrift store is the best way to go. You can literally furnish your entire house, clothe your entire family, and buy your leisure items like bikes, tennis rackets, baseball gloves. Thrift stores can really supply anything you want. The onlydown side is that you never know what you are going to get when you go into a thrift store. You may find some amazing clothes or shoes, or nothing at all that interests you.
Time is the essential element in this process. If you are willing to put the time in to find the things that you need, you will succeed in your quest.
Annalisa takes full advantage of yard sales. “I don’t go to the mall at all anymore, and I am proud of the fact that I don’t pay more than a dollar for shoes.” Yard sales are similar to thrift stores, with a few modifications. Yard sales are usually one day, where a person, or multiple people gather all of the items in their house that they are getting rid of, put them all out in the front yard of their house, and sell the items for low prices.
If you can get to a neighborhood yard or garage sale, then good for you! You have stumbled across a shopping opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. The more people that are participating in a joint yard sale, the better your chances are of getting great deals on more stuff. Annalisa does this all the time. “It takes a while to figure out which ones are the good ones, but it's fun!” Annalisa suggests scooping out the yard sale scene in“Vynle-sided neighborhoods”, the neighborhoods that have been developed in the past 20 years, where wealthier people tend to live. You can literally find brand new stuff for 50 cents. Its unreal!
Yard sales are great for finding expensive items that you can't splurge on, or just recycled toys for a new baby that is on the way. Whatever you need, you can probably find it at a yard sale, and if you can't, keep looking. This is a perfect example of reusing, and recycling old items for your benefit. This not only saves money, but it saves the environment from all of the harmful processes that go into making every day items that we need to survive. That is the epitome of “living green”.
My brother and I used to make fun of my mom for clipping and cutting and saving any coupons we would get in the weekly circular that came in the mail. Turns out that these small pieces of paper are practically money in your pocket, but figuring out how to utilize the coupons you find in conjunction with your personal budget can be the hard part. The first step toward saving the most money with coupons is understanding that using a coupon does not mean the shopper is cheap, poor, or unable to pay full price for an item. It just means that they are smart!
One coupon may not seem like it would save you much, but if you have multiple coupons, the savings can quickly add up. When using coupons, you really need to look at the bigger picture, meaning taking a step back, make a strict budget that is realistic, and can be followed. This is the key to successful coupon use. And when you see that total price when the cashier is finished ringing up your items, you will be jumping with joy!
Coupons are available in multiple places like the newspaper, on websites, and by getting on certain email lists and having them sent to you. Shoppers interested in the best deals and greatest discounts will take advantage of more than one coupon resource to find coupons that fit their shopping needs. Here are some popular coupon websites:
o Cool Savings
o The Coupon Mom
o Coupon Cabin
o Coupon Album
o Deal Catcher
o My Coupons o My Savings
When I graduate in six months, I will proudly have earned a Bachelors Degree from Millersville University. My major is Communication, with an option in Public Relations. Being a PR practitioner, learning the importance of planning comes first hand to me. I have always made fun of proper planning of coupon use. Planning around the coupon deals, like meals and activities, will ensure that you are saving. If you don’t let the coupons expire, and you use each coupon, then you are saving the maximum amount of money! Pretty sweet huh? Re-Use, Re-New, Recycle! Let me introduce you to the three R’s.
“Re-Use”, “Re-New”, “Recycle”
When living a lifestyle that reduces environmental impact, these three words will turn in to your life mantra. To live by the three R’s, is to “live green”. Annalisa is queen of the three R’s. Keep in mind that she has been living this lifestyle for over a decade, but her strategies are nothing less than incredible. “I bought a pair of designer black pumps at a yard sale for 50 cents. I loved them so much and wore them all the time, and then the heel broke. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to fix the shoes with a soy sauce cap and some black electricians tape.” How awesome is that?
Annalisa displays the essentialmind set that every “green-goer” needs to have in order to succeed at living this lifestyle, the three R’s. She eliminates waste, by Re-using items, Re-news things by fixing what is broken, and preserves what she already has by recycling. Besides her footware repair, Annalisa spends time mending ripped or torn clothes for she and her children. This eliminates the need to buy new clothes. Mending is very simple. If you don’t know how to sew, and you’re starting to “live green”, learning as soon as possible is a must. Learning how to sew is "hands on" and" learning by doing" process. Here are a few links that you can go to, to start your mending in a jiff:
Sign Up For Sewing Lesson
Sewing Lesson Index
Annalisa uses a sewing machine for bigger mending jobs, and that requires learning how to use a sewing machine. Here is a site for anyone wishing to learn more about sewing machines:
Sewing Machine Information
Many times people are given a sewing machine and want to dive right in and do not know how to use it. It's not only dangerous for the sewing machine, it's dangerous for you as well. In any situation where you are using a machine, you need to know how to use it before operation. Be sure to learn the basics before you start, to prevent damaging the machine.
Besides sewing, Annalisa finds other ways to use the three R’s. Having an older, larger house, there is plenty of things she needs to clean, but she doesn’t buy paper towels. How is this possible? Well, with the clothing items that she can't save, she turns into rags for cleaning purposes. This is good for two reasons: First, she is re-using and recycling the clothes that cannot be worn, to be used as cleaning cloths; Two, these cloths can be washed, so she can continue to use them again and again. Brilliant! Another cool idea Annalisa shared with me is using the dry-cleaner bags for another purpose. These bags are pretty big, and rather long so she cuts them, staples them again, and uses them for trashcan liners, so she doesn’t have to buy trash bags. “I don’t buy new a lot, and I keep an eye out for things that I can re-use, and it allows me to use my creativity!”
Like many of us, Annalisa also uses cloth, reusable bags to go grocery shopping with. This eliminates the use of the phrase “paper or plastic?” The use of these reusable cloth bags eliminates the annoying, and harmful waste of paper that comes along with grocery shopping. Eating healthy, and “Living Green” Choosing to “live green” is not an easy decision to make, and it is even harder to adapt to. For Annalisa, “living green” doesn’t just mean recycling and reusing clothing. For her, it also means eating green. “I don’t buy cereal because it creates a lot of garbage. Instead, my family and I eat muffins or waffles for breakfast. They are healthy, fast, and delicious!”
This sounds pretty easy, and pretty normal, but it’s a lot more in depth than it seems. The waffles that she is referring to, she has a special recipe for, that uses all non-refrigerated ingredients to save energy and eliminate waste. These waffles take three minutes to make, and they are delicious! Here is the recipe:
Annalisa’s Waffle Recipe:
One cup of water
Quarter cup of powdered milk, put into something that you can open easily
Quarter cup of Soy flower
Quarter to a half cup of oatmeal or whole wheat flower
One cup of flower
One teaspoon of baking powder
One tablespoon of oil helps with sticking Pour into waffle iron, cook, and serve!
You can use this recipe to make yummy pancakes as well!
Another strategy for eating green is canning. Annalisa taught herself how to can, but it took a really long time. “It literally took me years and years to get it right, butperseverance prevailed, and I finally figured it out, and I love it!” Canning can be difficult, but if you learn how, this technique for eating green is fresh, it reduces waste, and you know exactly where your food came from, and the earth was not harmed in the process of making it. Annalisa suggests finding jars that you can open and shut easily, and juice pitchers that have a handle on them, with lids to make canning easier.
These items can be found at yard sales or thrift stores of course.
Green is not only a way of living, its also the color of some really yummy foods, and the cool thing is you can grow these power packed plants, fresh in your very own garden. There's a reason wheat grass is a very popular additive to fresh juices (or consumed in a "shot"): Greens are packed with nutrients, especially Vitamin C, Calcium, Folate, Lutein and Beta-Carotene.
Cynthia Stadd, a New York-based holistic health and nutrition counselor, says, "Green vegetables are the food most missing from modern diets. They strengthen blood and immune systems, prevent cancer and fight depression naturally." The fiber in raw greens will keep your digestive tract moving, and many natural-health advocates report that greens are energy-giving foods, increasing mental clarity and sustaining energy. This kind of healthy eating is literally “eating green”, especially if you are growing your own veggies in the back yard!
Being a Tightwad
Being a tightwad seems like a negative title to give to someone. Annalisa welcomes this title with pride! She has worked very hard to figure out the strategies and secrets of “living green”, and it has taken her nearly a decade to do so. She is in a league of her own here, and she shows no sign of stopping. When people ask her how she does it, she is very humble. “I am not a preacher, but I admit I do brag about the deals I get and the things I find for the price I pay, and in turn, this inspires people.”
Annalisa sets an example for people that she knows and meets to follow, and if they are interested in her lifestyle, or anything that she does, she shows them how to do it. She tells people how to do certain things, when to do them, and what to know when they are trying to “live green”. Annalisa makes suggestions every day to many people, and one thing she suggests, is to read “The complete Tightwad Gazette”, by Amy Dacyczyn. This book has inspired thousands to re-examine the way they spend their money, and gives creative ideas on how to be a tightwad.
This term tightwad has been a negative title, but for Annalisa, it’s a badge of honor. It means that she is doing her part to reduce environmental impact, and she is saving her family more money than she knows. That definition is something to be proud of.
Living Green Saves Green!
For me, my first initial thoughts about going green was that this just means I have to spend more time thinking about what I am doing to save the environment, and I didn’t feel like putting forth the small effort it requires. I didn’t realize that “living green” meansbehavior modification, behavior modificationthat can actually benefit you in more ways than one. Saving money is a huge incentive for a lot of individuals who are thinking about making the lifestyle switch to “living green”. From shopping at thrift stores, to clipping coupons, you have the opportunity to save thousands of dollars a year on living expenses, while saving the environment!
For Annalisa, making the switch to green living was at first, an economical decision. “I had a lot of debt, and I had to start thinking a lot about how to spend less money on the things I cared about.” I got married 13 years ago, and that was a big jump in going green, that was about the time I really stopped going to the mall.
Annalisa knows first hand the importance of a budget, and she uses different methods to keep on track with her money. Annalisa says that if you’re trying to keep down cost, write down every single penny you spend. It almost allows you to keep a log of how much you spend on what. Annalisa writes what she wants to spend money on, and then goes from there. Books are her vice, and used to buy books sporadically. Now, she sets aside a specific amount of money just to use when buying books. And to get her money’s worth, and her fix, she buys used books at thrift stores or yard sales!
She avoids the high prices, and saves money and the planet, the idea of “living green”.
As you can tell, you can't get more green than Annalisa. The best part is, Annalisa loves to “live green”, which includes saving money, spending smart, eating healthy, exercising, and much more. She takes green to a whole new level, and she owns it. It is as much a part of who she is, as the air in her lungs. It’s a part of her life that she never sees changing. And why would she? She saves money and lives simpler, and better than most people do. She is doing what she wants to do, and living the way she wants to live and believes that if she is doing it anyone can.
I asked Annalisa if she had any advice for those who were thinking about going green, and she said that the biggest thing is to try not to beat your self up. “You are the one making the changes, and trying new things. You have to keep in mind that perseverance will get you through.” This is a style of living that takes time, and many tries for you to adjust your life to the changes. Don’t get down on yourself because something doesn’t work out. Try again, or try something new!
Annalisa left me with two pieces of advice. One, to have gratitude, active gratitude for the things you have. The second was to have patience. If you decide that there is something you need, you can wait for it. You can wait for a sale, or for the money you can save to get it, or you can find it at a yard sale! I know that the only thing I could say to Annalisa by the end of our conversation was that she has inspired me. And it was true.
I will be honest, I was expecting to speak with someone who was a bit crazy, maybe even a bit weird. But by the end of our conversation, I was really impressed by her. She, single- handedly, changed my mind about going green. I was inspired, and I thought, wow, this is not that hard, and I do most of these things that she does! I was so inspired by Annalisa, that I am budgeting my money better, walking more, and trying to eat healthier. All of these things are good foundations for starting to live green.
I admit that I was wrong in thinking that going green is a fad. I learned that if you are going to make the big changes in you’re life, like buying a Hybrid, or making home renovations it’s not going green, it's living green. You can express yourself by utilizing your creativity to benefit the environment, while saving money, exercising and eating fresh. Go ahead. Brag a little bit. After all, being a Tight-wad is a title that I can carry with pride, and follow Annalisa’s lead.
Works Cited http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/07/walking_driving.html