The idea for this post came when we were on our camping trip and I realized how much we were throwing away. Things that we would normally recycle at home. We were throwing away so much that I even took some things back home to recycle when we got back, cereal boxes or milk cartons. We also had to use regular diapers instead of our usual cloth diapers because it would be too gross to have a week’s worth of old diapers with us on the trip. That was so weird for me now that I am used to the cloth ones and Serafina’s bum looked so small in those little disposables!
I also just couldn’t get it. After having been using cloth diapers for over a year now, it just seemed so strange to me that people are actually using these disposables everyday and throwing millions of diapers away. It kind of drives me crazy thinking about how much people waste every day without even thinking about it.
So today I thought that I would write a post about some of the things that this crazy lady does to leave a lighter footprint. Things that people may not have even thought about.
1. I Recycle Everything! I recycle everything that I think can be recycled. Even if it can’t, I try because I am crazy like that. Things like hangers and toilet paper rolls. Even my old baking sheets. I just can’t bear things being thrown into the landfill if they don’t need to be so I put it in the recycle bin. If I go to my parents and notice that they are throwing away perfectly recyclable items (like water bottles or coffee tins) I dig them out of their garbage , rinse them off and take them home with me to recycle. Like I said, I am crazy.
It actually amazes me that there are still people who do not bother recycling anything. If you don’t already recycle, please do! Please, please please. I wish so much for a clean and healthy world for my kids and grand kids who are going to inherit this earth.
2. I Bring My Own Bags Everywhere I Go. Whether we are going to the beach or to the city or any store, I bring my own reusable cloth bags. I have been doing this for years now so it is an ingrained habit for me. I just can’t stand plastic bags. If I am sending my hubby to get something from the store I make sure that he has a reusable bag with him. I even run after him if he forgot it. I can’t stand seeing plastic bags thrown away and ending up in and on our earth.
3. I Pick Up Garbage Every Day. Every day when we go out for a walk there is garbage thrown onto the side of the road or in the ditch. Things like fast food drinking cups or brown paper bags, plastic pop or water bottles and a multitude of other garbage. We always have our wagon or stroller with us and so the girls and I pick it up and take it home to either be thrown away properly or recycled.
Again, this is something that we have been doing for years now, so it is another ingrained habit. Sometimes I have to actually tell Autumn to not pick something up if it is too gross because she wants to pick up everything. If I am walking by, I can’t bear to just leave a plastic drinking bottle or any garbage laying there, especially by the river, so I pick it up, even though to a lot of people I probably just look like a crazy person.
4. I Reuse Plastic Bags. We don’t often have many actual plastic grocery bags (unless hubby brings them home from the store after forgetting to take a reusable bag) but we do usually have bread bags leftover from our bread. I rinse out and reuse those babies for as long as I can and then I recycle them with the other plastic bags. I keep those bags to use for wrapping sandwiches in of packing snacks if we are going anywhere. I find that I can use a bread bag over and over for at least 4 times. At the end of its life, when it gets a hole in it, it gets recycled. I also reuse my zipper bags as well to freeze bananas in or store other freezer items in. They can also be used to keep small toys or craft supplies in and then recycled.
5. I Use Cloth Diapers. I decided that I wanted to use cloth diapers when I was pregnant with Serafina because I knew that disposable diapers were a HUGE waste. Diapers are something that people go through a lot of and I knew that by using cloth diapers I could for sure leave a lighter footprint. I knew nothing about cloth diapering because I had never used them and never knew anyone who had, so I just researched it a bit and found a place to order them online. I ordered mine from this site. It cost me $136.00 for 33 prefolds and 6 covers. Since then, I have only had to order 4 more covers because she has grown, but the prefolds still fit her well and that is all that I have had to order so far. That means that since Serafina has been born we have only spent about $200.00 on diapers and she is 13 months now. Disposable diapers would have cost way more than that by now I am sure. I also try to use my own wipes at home, just some baby bath cloths as wipes and a container with water in it for wiping with.
Washing cloth diapers is very simple as well! Wet diapers can go into the bin without being rinsed first (ours is just a regular garbage can with a lid, but there are things called wet pails that you can buy) and soiled diapers first have to be rinsed and then placed into the bin. I wash diapers as needed, which is probably every 3-4 days. I place the diapers into the washing machine, fill the washing machine to its fullest setting with hot water and a tiny bit of soap and baking soda. Ta Da! The diapers are done washing! Then I dry them or hang them out to dry and use them over and over again.
This is probably the thing that I feel most proud that I am doing because it really does make a big difference. If you have any questions about cloth diapering, comment or e-mail me, I would be glad to help you out.
6. I Try and Only Buy Food That Comes In Recyclable Or Reusable Packaging – Or No Packaging At All. When I go grocery shopping, I try to only buy foods that come in the most Eco-friendly packaging. I don’t but things that come in little wasteful packages. I try and only buy cereal that is in a bag vs. a bag and a box. The other things I but can be recycled, like cans of beans or tomatoes or milk cartons. I also buy bulk things, like beans, nuts, dried fruit or pasta. The bags that I use to purchase bulk foods get reused over and over again.
At home I recently started composting our fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds and other perishable food items in a compost bin that we have outside. I wanted to do that because the bulk of our garbage is food scraps and I realized that it can be reused instead of thrown away into the landfill. I used to think that it was OK to throw away things like banana peels, because I figured that they were just going back into the earth from the garbage. Now I know that they cannot actually break down properly and go back to the earth if they are in a pile of plastic waste in a landfill and so I want to compost. I still don’t know much about it, so if you are a composter, comment here to tell me more! I really want to know!
7. I Grow My Own Garden. Well, actually the garden is more of my hubby’s thing, but it was my idea. For the past two years, we have planted our own little garden in the backyard. We started out knowing nothing about gardening and still do not know much, but it is fun to experiment and try and live and eat more close to the land. We have grown, potatoes, corn, kale, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, peas, carrots and beans. Some things just do not want to grow for us, but hopefully in time we will get better at gardening and be able to grow and preserve more of our own food. That is at least what I am hoping for.
8. I Don’t But Anything New. I actually do not buy anything except food usually. 99% of our clothes, furniture, books and belongings are second hand and most of what we own has been given to us. We are pretty laid back that way and really do not buy anything unless it is a need. If we ever need to buy something, we always check to see if we can get it second hand before even thinking of buying it new.
9. I Eat A Plant-Based Diet. I guess that counts as well for leaving a lighter footprint, although I became a vegan for ethical and spiritual reasons. Eating a plant-based diet cuts down on water and grain that is needed to raise animals for food. Raising animals for meat also depletes the earth of natural resources, like fossil fuels and topsoil, plus there is the transportation of the feed to the different barns and the animals over the course of their lifetime from place to place and then the transportation of the meat to the stores. Oh, and the waste that animals create that is polluting our environment as well.
So those are some of the things that have been thinking about these days that I do here at home. I try and do what I can and I know that I am not perfect, nor are we living in a perfect world, still I want to try and do my part to make a difference while I am here.
How about you? Do you have any tips on how to leave a lighter footprint? Are there things that you do every day that make you feel as though you are making a difference? Any advice or links to share?
Feel free to leave a comment below and hopefully this post can become a great resource for people who are looking to be more eco-conscious!
I would love to hear from you!