10 Ways TICO* Changed My Life
My TICO* Story Starts Here…
I’ll come right out and tell you, I’m not a “green” person or super eco-friendly. Mostly, I’m a regular guy. I’m married to a wonderful woman, and I have two sweet daughters. I live in a small, quiet neighborhood outside of Austin, Texas, and well, I just do my thing- until TICO* came along. At first I was a guinea pig, testing the product for a friend. The next thing I knew I was working as a partner with Rayner Smith, on the re-brand and re-launch of the entire company. While the re-launch is still in high gear (as of this writing), the shift in my perspective on my responsibility to my family, my community, and the entire planet has been life-changing. The list below represents the top 10 ways TICO* has changed my life. I hope you find some inspiration, and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!
#1. Started Recycling
When I bought my first home, I found out that the recycling in my area was $30-50 per month. I was flabbergasted that I had to pay so much just to get rid of my recyclable rubbish. Fast-forward to the “halo effect” of TICO*-living, where I decided once and for all I’ve got to reduce my daily trash “footprint,” I found a local recycling facility that charges a flat fee as long as I drive the stuff there myself. Problem solved. Immediately, we went from nearly a full trash bag a day to a couple a week All in all, it’s a tiny bump in the great big trash heap, but “as for me and my house,” we’re becoming less of the problem.
#2. Started Composting
I always thought composting was for farmers and people named Moonchild or Sunbeam. But once I started recycling, the thought of reducing our trash output was sort of a challenge. I started paying attention to how much compostable stuff I was throwing away. In fact, 33 million tons of food waste that could potentially be composted reaches landfills each year in the US. We decided it was the next logical step after recycling, and we’re now down to about one trash bag a week! The one caveat I’ve found is that composting is a bit gross, and you have to be prepared for some smells, bugs, and other ickiness as you learn to balance the right amount of greens and browns (or carbons and nitrogens, as the experts call it).
#3. Switched To Cloth Diapers
I can take ZERO credit for this one. When we had our first daughter, our midwife scolded us for using disposable diapers. The second time around, my wife insisted that we make the switch to re-usable cloth diapers. Personally, having changed some pretty nasty stink bombs with my first daughter, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of my clothes being washed in the same place my baby girl’s soiled diapers. However, when my wife said we’d save close to $2000-3000 (by age 2), I saw the light. Not the most noble of intentions on my part, but we are now keeping hundreds of disposable diapers out of the landfills.
#4. Started Making Household Cleaners
Again, the halo effect of TICO*-living and becoming more responsible spread to the use of chemicals in our home. We’ve made an effort to slowly replace all the various cleaning products for the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry with safe, sustainable, household products like borax and vinegar. We have had a bit of trial-and-error, and there were a few loads of dishes that came out looking worse than when they started. But either way, I’m pretty sure if Macgyver and Mr. Clean had a love-child, he/she would have some serious competition with my wife.
#5. Stopped Using Paper Towels
I have a confession. I’m pretty sure I have OCD when it comes to my hands being dirty. The problem is most noticeable during meals when I burn through paper towels faster than a cat can lick it’s… well, you know. Interestingly, I’m not sure if I’m proud or scared, but I’ve socialized my two year old daughter into the same manic routine. I digress. The point is that my wife and I decided to switch to cloth, and we straight up hid the paper towels from sight. Our paper towel use has dropped so much, I fully believe we’ll make it through the coming apocalypse with the four or so rolls we have left.
#6. Switched To Energy Efficient Thermostat
To be fair, I actually bought my Nest thermostat before my “green renaissance,” BUT I did reprogram it to promote better energy efficiency, which qualifies it for my list. I realized that slowly changing my temperature by 1 degree at a time, we were really able to get some serious energy savings. It’s a bit hotter running the thermostat at 78 degrees but it’s worth it. Additionally, we keep comfortable by using energy-efficient ceiling fans during the sweltering days of summer. All in all, I’m starting to notice one of the major benefits of green living is saving money.
#7. Switched To Smart Irrigation System
When I was a kid, there was no grass in my backyard. If you fell, it was a guaranteed scraped knee or hand. I made a vow that if I ever had a yard, it would have beautiful kid-friendly grass. Anyway, fast-forward 25 years, and I have my own kids and my own backyard. However, I also live in Texas, fast becoming a desert. Facing a bit of a conflict, I decided on drought-resistant bermuda grass and replaced my old irrigation controller with a much more efficient Rainbird controller. I snagged the coveted win-win-win. My watering needs were cut by 50%, my two girls can play scrape-free, and lastly, as a man, I can proudly toil over a healthy green lawn.
#8. Started Exercising Regularly
Part of my responsibility kick was to look at myself. Not so much from a vane, “Do I look good in these jeans?” but instead from a concerned, “Am I going to die at an early age from all this sitting on a computer all day?” I started a workout plan with a good friend and neighbor. We whipped up a whiteboard in the garage and set a goal to complete 100 workouts (3 times a week). As I write this, we’ve completed roughly 54 workouts in 16 weeks. I’ve lost roughly 25 pounds of straight fat. Seriously, that’s like 50 blocks of Velveeta cheese. The results have been motivating to myself and my wife, who recently started a new workout plan as well.
#9. Started Eating More Healthy
I remember a distinct moment in my life when I had a realization that a life without cheese wasn’t worth living. However, somewhere along the 50 or so workouts, I also realized I was sabotaging my exercise with unhealthy eating. If I was going to take the time and self-discipline to exercise, why not apply that same mentality to eating clean and healthy? I decided on a 28-day cheese fast, since the abyss of “cheese-less” living was to great too bear. Interestingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Additionally, no cheese lead next to less dairy, then no dairy. Next we started eating more vegetarian meals. Now my wife and I are nearly a month into what is basically, a plant-based whole-foods diet. It’s a miracle!
#10. Building a Garden in the Backyard
One of the natural by-products of responsible, healthy living is getting closer to nature. Since I don’t have time to visit Big Bend, I’ve got to settle with my backyard. I also learned that gardening is one of the most healthy long-term activities one can do (well into your twilight years). As of this writing, my garden is a work in progress, which is why I’ve made it last on the list. I’ve decided to build two 4×12 raised gardens which are already fenced, irrigated, and ready for lumber. I’m hoping to have my first gardens ready in time for fall planting. Go urban farming!
Can shave oil change the world?
I live by a motto, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” When I partnered with Rayner, I came with a fresh perspective and a desire to ask questions like, “What do we truly believe? What is the point of our company? What are the core values upon which we make all our business decisions?” As a result, we discovered one of our primary shared values was responsibility. This desire to hold ourselves accountable with TICO* spilled over into my personal life. I don’t claim to be Captain Planet, but it sure feels good to make a difference, one step at a time.
I Love Feedback!
- In what ways are you taking more personal responsibility?
- Is there something you can do to reduce your “footprint” on the world?
- Any gripes or feedback you think I need to hear?