Between the alarming amounts of chemicals and plastic found in sea creatures (many of which we eat) to trash islands bigger than my home state of New Jersey, I think it’s pretty clear that we could all be a bit kinder to our environment. Enter cliche: it’s the only one we’ve got.
I’m a type-A person who loves a challenge, so I was first inspired to reduce my waste about a year ago when I stumbled across a video of someone who tried to go completely waste-free for a month. While I’ll never be one of those totally waste-free people or a mason-jar’s-worth-of-trash-in-a-year gal, I have been trying to reduce my carbon footprint in small ways. Along the way I’ve also noticed that living (or trying to live) this way saves money and allows a lot fewer chemicals to come through my door.
Here are things I do to waste less:
- I don’t buy paper towels. I thought this one was going to be really hard. Truthfully, it wasn’t. I have a ton of Trader Joe’s kitchen cloths which I use for cleaning dishes, wiping down the counter, etc. (honestly, an old, cut-up t-shirt will do, too!) I also put a bunch of kitchen towels/rags on my registry, which I was so thankful to receive. I keep a little bin at the end of my kitchen counter, and when I’m done using a towel/cloth, I just drop it in. Then, at the end of each week I throw them all in the wash and dryer.
- I don’t use plastic water bottles. You know, the one-and-done kind. I have two water filters in my fridge, and a couple of stainless steel water bottles that Mitch and I use. This is the easiest step toward less waste, in my opinion, and it almost instantly saves you money.
- I don’t use plastic bags at the supermarket — and so far, nothing bad has happened as a result of oranges rolling around my cart at the supermarket, bumping into the sweet potatoes. I tried the whole reusable produce bag thing, but then honestly, kept forgetting them and ended up tossing the fruit and veggies in anyway. When it’s time to check out, I bring my own re-usable bags. These bags hold way more than your traditional supermarket plastic bags, which ends up meaning fewer trips to unpack. That’s a win-win to me!
- I’m just starting to dabble in the world of solid shampoo bars, safety razors and conditioner bars (and obviously, unpackaged bars of soap are in use too!). I’m not too far into using this stuff yet, so I can provide and update/reviews at a later date!
- Continuing on the soap conversation, I received a really nice glass soap dispenser for my wedding. I now fill that up with a huge jug of soap that I buy and keep under my sink. It’s not completely zero-waste, but one big bottle produces far less waste than the million other one we’d use throughout the year otherwise.
- For my bridal shower, I kindly asked that people skip the wrapping paper. It was another small gesture, but probably prevented at least two garbage bag’s worth of waxy paper from being created that day. Plus, it just gets ripped off, anyway!
Where I’m still falling short:
- Fam, I love me some Lara bars. And they’re just so darn convenient to buy a few and keep them in your desk drawer at work, or grab on the way out of the house. I’ve made my own similar energy bites before (and they were delicious), but I’m finding that with work and school and volunteer stuff and my crazy busy schedule, I’m not able to pull out the Vitamix to make them as often as I used to.
- I have a gas-guzzling Honda Accord that I drive every single day. And there’s tons of extra crap in it weighing it down that I should really clean out. But who wants to clean a car after a long day of work?! (If you find such a person, please send them my way, and I will welcome them in to my life with open arms)
- Amazon shopping. Needless to say, I get my money’s worth out of my yearly Amazon Prime membership. Whenever Mitch or I need anything, it’s just so easy to click click click and have it on our doorstep in two days. But that also results in a recycling pile of boxes as big as me. Sigh.
I’d love to hear the small steps that others are taking to reduce their carbon footprint, and if they have any suggestions for my downfalls!