Due to some recent health complications, and some time constraints due to moving, I have unfortunately had to bow out of the Queen of Green’s springtime volunteer green coaching project. I am super bummed to not be able to contribute to the level that I wanted to, but I thought I would blog on my personal journey with waste reduction this week, to complement the module the current green coaches are taking their families through.
Let’s take a journey through my ideas for waste reduction in the home, as well as some of my future aspirations!
Ways I currently reduce waste in my home:
Ahem….this first one is obvious: I DIY my household cleaning and body products, reducing and eliminating a LOT of plastic waste.
I do not use paper towel or other disposable cleaning products. I use washcloths, towels, and a microfiber mop.
I used cloth diapers for my son.
I use washable menstrual pads.
I use cloth napkins at the dinner table.
I bring my own cloth bags to the store, and I do not put my produce in plastic bags. I have reusable plastic bags at home that I store my produce in. I have had the same bags for many, many years now. If I don’t remember to bring my own bags to the store, I ask for paper bags, fill them right up, and use them to line my under the sink compost container.
I use compostable bags for any of the garbage I DO put out to the curb. Yes, I buy them. No, they aren’t cheap. But I do it!
I try when I can remember to bring my own containers for leftovers to restaurants.
I do not use plastic wrap, and I wash my plastic bags when I do use them. You can wash plastic bags hundreds of times over if you are careful! I store most food in reusable containers.
I do not buy bottled water, instead I have a wonderful countertop filtration system from Aquasmart which I LOVE. Only problem with this is the disposal of the filters after they are done. I could work on this….
When I can find what I need, I buy clothing and household items secondhand. I am a huge fan of thrift stores and craigslist!
I buy clothing only when I need it. Read: a current item is breaking apart and un-mendable, or I have changed size drastically. I do not shop for fashion, unless I REALLY have to attend a fancy dress event (most of my wardrobe is casual and practical). I try to buy mostly cotton or other natural fibers.
I donate used household / baby items and clothing or sell them on craigslist.
I tell others about my aversion to plastic and buying everything new to discourage them from buying me anything in that vein!
I carefully consider the packaging whenever I am shopping for a new item, or when buying groceries. Anita’s Organic packages most of their products in paper. I love their flours, grains and popcorn!
I buy durable, quality items, instead of cheaping out. I make sure I am buying something that will last, and at the very least is made out of biodegradable, sustainable materials when possible. No use sending something for recycling or to the trash sooner than it needs to go.
I do not rush out to buy the latest electronic gadget. I use my cell phones, cameras, and the like until they are DONE (ie. broken, or unusable due to software requirements). I was the longest of any of my friends to convert to a touchscreen phone, and I only did so when mine was garbage. This was after several large mishaps that I managed to salvage it from.
I recycle as much as possible from the items I do buy with packaging. I wash ALL of my food containers and recycle them, no matter how nasty the contents. No trashing just because I don’t feel like dealing with spoiled food. I seek out options for recycling items my curbside collection won’t take.
I have had to momentarily stop personally composting, but for the time being am adding 100% of my food waste to my municipal yard waste bin. Find out if your city will take your food scraps! Most are on board with this now.
I grow many of my own vegetables seasonally, reducing the packaging required to ship / deliver them to the store.
I bake a lot of take along snacks, to reduce the need to grab for a wrapped granola bar or the like.
I do not giftwrap, and choose to buy green gifts when I can. If I absolutely need to wrap something, I will use one of my coveted gift bags that I have collected from gifts from others, or I will drape some sort of cloth or blanket over it that I take home with me afterwards. This works great for kids.
Some of you may groan at the next one, but I maintain the belief that it’s okay to let it mellow if it’s yellow, and flush it down when it’s brown. Why do I need to flush away every pee? Especially my hubby’s or son’s that don’t even accompany any TP? I really think that folks should get on board with this, to save a TON of water.
Finally, when shopping, I consider “Do I really need this?” when making decisions, and try to curb the desire to buy for the sake of a deal, promotion, or novelty. I think about whether I can use something at home in a similar way, borrow something from a friend or family member, or just do away with the idea altogether.
The list likely could go on, but let’s call it a day there! Hopefully some of my habits have given you a few suggestions!
Some of the things I would like to improve upon:
I want to replace tissue with reusable hankies. I have been lazy in getting around to sewing up some hankies in appropriate, nose friendly fabric.
There are a select few things I cook wrapped in aluminum foil. I just have not found a way around it that I have found an acceptable alternative, especially for barbecuing! Still researching this! Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I would like to start cooking some meals in bulk to allow for quick, nutritious lunches on the go, to replace some of the canned soups and packaged burritos my son eats. Granted, it is very hard to switch him onto new foods, which has made this process doubly hard to be motivated for. Think: I just spent 8 hours cooking and my son won’t eat it, and I now have ten jars of it in the freezer. I generally cook slow, nutritious whole foods meals most of the time, but occasionally I need something quick. This is a tough one!
I need to find a better source for bulk foods in my area, that is affordable, and offers organics. I find it challenging to find a local source for certain bulk organic foods.
Oh, those yogurt containers! These make up a large portion of our plastic recycling. I have not found a bulk organic source, and I do not find it affordable to make organic yogurt from scratch. Hmmm….any suggestions?
How have you been successful or challenged in your waste reduction goals in your household? I would love to hear your stories!