I cannot express enough how important it is to reduce waste. Not only does this reduce the amount of waste that will end up in our landfills, but its a money saver. Here are a few tips brought to you by www.reusablebags.com and myself. Reusablebags is my #1 store where I find bags, containers, and just plain inspiration from. So here you go...
1. Ditch Dryer Sheets. Yes, we love the smelly dryer sheets and dont think twice when we use them and throw them away. Think about it, you use one per load of laundry. And I could go on and on about the chemicals they put in them that are very unhealthy. If your like me, I do 2 loads a day, thats 2x365=730 a year. Adds up. Well now there are plenty of ways to get around this. Dont use them, use plant based liquid softner, biodegradable sheets, or you can even find dryer balls at www.reusablebags.com for around $17. They are pretty neat and im ordering them very soon. Just think how much money you will save from not buying them.
2. Bring your own cup. Yes you can do this. Ive yet to find someone object to putting a drink in my own cup I brought from home. Starbucks, Tulleys, and even little coffee shops will do it for you. They encourage you to do this. Less cups they have to buy, less tree's to be cut down, less waste in the landfill, less you have to recycle. Bringing the cost down for everyone involved.
3. Use reusable utensils. Yep, seems little but helps out alot. There are several options for you. You can use your own from home, you can buy traveling ones made from bamboo, or now Whole Foods has earth friendly options. For a little over a buck, you can buy silverware made from corn. Yep, use them then throw them away. They are biodegradable and look exactly like the plastic ones. I use these everytime I throw a birthday party. And when I hand them out, I tell everyone (usually children) and they just love this information and talk about it. Hopefully inspired and told their parents. Just think how many plastic utensils you threw away in your lifetime and I can almost guarentee that they are still in a landfill somewhere.
4. Bag the Sandwich baggie. Another thing I was guilty of until just about a year ago. Ziplock bags. Yes very handy but very harmfull. They pullute our earth in more ways than one. Landfills are packed full of them, and they end up in oceans killing marine animals and fish. Just think how many you use, then remember that almost everyone in the world use's them. Makes my stomach hurt thinking about it. You can not only reduce your use of them but actually cut them out of your life all the way. Use friendly plastics and containers. I use mostly Tupperware but you could use Rubbermaid or whatever you want. My daughters have enough room for a sandwich, crackers, fruit, and even a drink in their regular size lunch box's. Only time I use ziplock type bags is when I freeze my meat. I reuse them until they fall apart. I just wash them very well and hang dry them. I feel so much better knowing that I help with the decline of ziplocks. Contact your ziplock company and express how you want them to make biodegradable ones. You can buy sandwich wraps made from fabric at www.reusablebags.com for pretty cheap as ell. There are many other companies too, just google it.
5. Say "NO" to gift wrap. At christmas this is really hard to do. I start saving up newpaper a month befor christmas to use as wrap. Its recycling at its best. We use left over ribbon or twine too. We also make our own gift tags. You can even reuse paper that people wrapped your gift in. Just turn it over, let your kids color it, and wrap the gift up. Or you can just put it in a basket. I bought baskets from thrift stores and used them for gifts at christmas time. Wrapping paper has chemicals in it that can do harm. If you burn it, it releases them into the air. Just plain bad in every way. So express to people that you dont like gift wrap, tell them just to not wrap it or get creative.
6. Reuse a plastic bag. Im pretty good at not having them but every once in a while one slips in somehow. I will reuse it as a trash bag, donate them to thrift stores, recycle them, and pretty much do anything but throw them away. Some stores have biodegradable ones which is so amazing. You know they pay more for them and im sure they know its better. As stated in #4, wash them and reuse them. Use them to organize crafts, hold toys(barbies etc.), get creative.
7. Bring a bottle. Going for a walk, bring your own water in a reusble bottle. Lunch? Pack your own drink. Work? Bring your own. Even if you want to buy a coffee, just give them your cup to fill up. Just do it!
8. Pack a sustainable lunch. We reuse our lunch box's until they fall apart before we buy another one. Use safe plastic storage containers. Make everything so you dont have to pay and recycle packaging. Bring your own utensils or buy biodegradable ones. My girls do this everyday and we have no waste from any of their lunches. None, zip, ziltch. Its worth the investment to buy reusable containers. If you have money, just find them on www.reusablebags.com but if you dont , their are options. I found all my Tupperware in thrift stores. Took a few months to gather everything but I did it. I think I paid maybe $10 total for all my Tupperware in my home. Ive saved over $100 easily over a few months from not buying ziplock bags or buying prepackaged food.
9.Carry a reusable shopping bag. Now days their is no excuse to not use them. They are everywhere. I would reccomend getting them from thrift stores first. I frequent these stores alot and see them all the time. Or you can make your own out of old clothes. Get creative and make one you will love. There are free patterns all over the net. Or you can buy one from your favorite store or www.reusablebags.com even has hundreds of choice's. My favorite bags are from reusable bags. My 2nd favorites are from Trader Joe's. They are made from sturdy fabrics and have amazing handles. Only $1.99. I bought organic cotton mesh bags from reusablebags and use them for my produce. I can wash them whenever I need to. I have a large bag, several small bags and my mesh bags all put into my large bag in my van. Carry with me at all times. If I can carry my items, I will do this too. Do you really need a bag to hold 2 packs of toilet paper? no. Last time I went grocery shopping, I forgot my bags in my van. I just paid for my items, asked them just to put them back into my shopping card, went out to my van and put the items in the bags. Rethink your thinking.
10. Buy in bulk. Winco is amazing for this one. They are the cheapest ive found for bulk items and they have way more choices than even Fred Meyers. You pay less because there is no packaging. Plus more and more there are healthy even organic options. They have Bobs Red Mill grains, organic just about anything you can think about, and even spices. I reccomend Winco highly for anyone on a budget or just wants to help out the earth.
Okay, so there are 10 ways to help out. I challenge you to rethink your lifestyle. Rethink your daily routines. Rethink your habbits. Took me a while but now its just there. I dont even have to think about it. I just do it. And you can too.