I debated with myself whether this was a post I was qualified to really share. I feel like when it comes to living with less waste, there are so many areas I could be doing better with. And if you’re not an expert, should you even be sharing it??? Yes. Because sometimes I feel a little intimidated by experts. Like they are so far above and beyond what I can do to get to that level, that I want to give up before even trying because I’ll never be that good.
So I thought maybe hearing about some simple steps a non-expert was trying might seem a little more relatable and something to encourage you to start with. Little changes can end up making a big difference! Plus April is Earth Month, so it’s the perfect time to be chatting about this stuff! 🌍🤗
My kids have been a major motivation for me making changes in our lifestyle…using cleaner products around our home and hopefully making my home and our environment a little better and safer for my kids. Here are 7 simple tips I’ve been working on for living with less waste:
Use metal straws.
If you pay attention to the news, this has been more of a hot topic lately as some restaurants are trying to do away with plastic straws. Plastics do not biodegrade, they just break down into smaller pieces of micro plastic and make their way into our ground water and our food supply. Research is showing that plastic-associated chemicals are having serious health impacts on our bodies. My kids love using straws, so I decided to buy some reusable metal straws so they could still have all their fun sipping and we would be using and throwing out a little less plastic. I bought these ones and like the variety of sizes and that it comes with both straight and bent straws.
Use reusable shopping bags.
This one is almost like a duhhh, why is this included, reusable shopping bags have been pushed forever, do we still need to be saying this?! But yes, I need to, because I still struggle with this at some stores. I love my Wegmans shopping bags and use them every time I go grocery shopping – not only is it “greener”, but it’s also way, way easier on you. Only six bags to deal with (I have 3 boys, my grocery cart is always filled to the brim) instead of 30. Seriously, I forgot my bags recently and wanted to cry when I saw the gazillion bags it took for my groceries and then to have to deal with trying to carry them all in, I was like why would anyone still be using plastic bags?! But, I don’t do as well at other stores with remembering to pull out my bag. I love the ones that fold up and store easily in your purse, like these and always carry one in my purse!
This one might also seem like a no-brainer to some since recycling is so encouraged in some areas and states (like ours). But I also know that in some states recycling is barely done. Yikes! If you can’t just take it out to your curb or to your local transfer station (what we do), take a little bit of time and figure out where you can recycle in your area. You can check out this site or this one to help find where you can. Any plastic bags we do get, I recycle at Wegmans or Target (they have bins near the front of the store) and Target also has bins to recycle ink cartridges, cell phones and MP3 players!
Use wool dryer balls.
I actually didn’t use any kind of dryer sheets, dryer balls, or fabric softener for quite a while after I quit dryer sheets. While I loved the smell of dryer sheets, they just didn’t seem absolutely necessary and I didn’t need anyone to point out how wasteful they were as I watched the small garbage bag in the laundry room fill up so quickly. So I gave them up and wasn’t using anything (and our laundry survived!) until I heard about dryer balls helping reduce dry time. So I decided to try them out and have loved them ever since. Then came the news about the chemicals used in dryer sheets and fabric softeners and the research showing the negative health impacts these could be having on our bodies and I was even more glad I had ditched dryer sheets. And you can add essential oils to your dryer balls and still have amazing smelling laundry! I bought these dryer balls 4 years ago and are still using these exact ones, so it’s definitely budget friendly too!
Use baking mats.
I actually first bought one of these for baking reasons only, not for the environment. I had heard how great they are for baking and wanted in on that. I didn’t use it all the time, but did find it handy for certain recipes (like macarons). It’s only been more recently that I realized how much aluminum foil I was throwing away because I’d use that to line my baking sheets so I didn’t have to clean the pans (lazy!). I realized I could just use my reusable baking mat and since it’s non-stick, it’s way easier to clean the pans (so I can still be a lazy cook), and I’m throwing out way less foil now. I have this one and our friend Sarah makes & sells these fun baking mats.
Use activated charcoal sticks for a water filter.
Charcoal sticks remove chlorine and other chemicals from water and release natural minerals back into the water. Sticks last 3-6 months, and once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan (ie: saturated with toxins), there’s no plastic to discard or recycle, you can compost it or put it in your fridge to absorb odors. So you get filtered water with no plastic! We’ve been using these charcoal sticks. And yes, it seems a little weird to have black sticks in your water, but they work and won’t turn your water black!
Switch to reusable snack and lunch bags.
There are so many different choices out there for this and I’ve used a variety of different things…once you have kids, you definitely use a lot of baggies. I’m still working on trying to do better with this, using more reusable containers and baggies and less plastic. I think as far as clean-up goes, I find the bento-style boxes the easiest to clean. We were gifted a PlanetBox Rover Lunchbox a few years ago (aww, the tiny boys in that post!), and I like that a lot, although it’s a little pricey. One of my boys prefers sandwich containers for his lunches (and I do find those easier to clean than the reusable bags – but those are cuter!). We also shared this cute DIY Lunch Bag idea a couple years ago if you’re looking for a way to incorporate a stylish reusable lunch bag into your lunch routine!
So those are the really simple, easy-to-do things that I’ve been working on to be living with less waste. I want to keep doing better with these and adding more things in. Do you have any thing you do to cut down on waste?? I’m looking for more easy ideas, so share ’em if you’ve got ’em!