Today I wanted to share some of my tips for leaving a lighter footprint on our planet. These are some of the ideas that I came up with as I was troubled by my green conscious and are everyday ways that we can all pollute less, save money, be happier and healthier. 🙂
1. BYOB When you go to the store, bring your own bag with you. I have so many reusable bags, it is ridiculous. If you need one, you could even ask me for one.
Tip: I try to keep some right by the front door hanging with the coats, so I don’t forget to take one with me when I go out. Another good idea is to keep some in your car.
2) Skip or Reuse Produce Bags. I came up with this idea recently, as I noticed that the white plastic bags at the checkout may not even be as devastating as how many produce bags are used and more than likely thrown away, even though, they too are recyclable.
I noticed that some people may only get one white grocery bag at the checkout, but have many items of produce all in little plastic bags. I see people put one lemon in a produce bag. Then one apple in another, etc. AHHHHH!
Obviously, I can’t change what other people do, but it made me think that if I am only ever buying a couple of piece of fruit or one bunch of broccoli, I can skip the produce bag altogether. If I am buying a lot of produce and I need a bag, I use the twist ties, instead of tying a knot on the bag (so many people do that) so that I can reuse the bag next time I go to the store.
Tip: You also want to make sure that you keep the bags where you will see them, so you can remember to grab them before you go. I keep ours by the fruit bowl on the counter. When I notice we are out of apples, I will grab the produce bag and go out to get more. There were many occasions after I came up with this plan that I forgot my bags at home.
3. Recycle everything that is recyclable I am what you might call, an extreme recyclist. If there is no such thing, I just invented it and I guess I am the only one. I recycle everything that can be recycled. From toilet paper rolls to frozen fruit and vegetable bags, to my daughters scrap paper. There are many things that we automatically recycle, like cans, jars and plastic bottles, but there are so many other little things that we do not.
Tip: Look on the package before you are about to throw something away. Ask yourself, can I recycle this? I have found that there are so many things that can be recycled, that I had never thought about before.
4. Purchase most (or all) of your food in recyclable packaging. As part of being an extreme recyclist, I do my best to only purchase anything that comes in recyclable packaging. If I buy juice, I but it in the plastic container instead of the juice-box type container. I would say that 95% or more of what I buy from the grocery store, all comes in recyclable packaging. Of course most often I buy beans and grains in bulk (and reuse the bags) other times I buy beans in a can or tomato sauce in a jar.
5. Go Waste Free. Packaged foods, like fruit snacks or granola bars and juice boxes, are the cause of so much litter with all the packaging that they come in. None of these little packages are recyclable, but are instead filling up our landfills by the millions every single day.
There are so many snacks that you can make yourself, that are waste free and healthier for you and your kids. Cut up veggies or have fresh fruit on hand to pack in your child’s lunch. There is a food rule by Michael Pollan that I like, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
Tip: When it comes to snacks, like granola bars, cookies, or even chips, I make my own for Autumn to take in her lunch. For popcorn, we buy a bag of kernels that we air pop ourselves. There are so many little things like this that you can do. This saves on a lot of packaging, it is a lot cheaper and way healthier too.
Check out my post on packing a waste free school lunch.
5. Leave your vehicle behind. Walk, skip, run, bike or even dance to where you need to get. Leave your vehicle at home whenever you can. This is better for you and better for the environment.
We only use the vehicle if we are getting a lot of groceries, or going long distances, other than that, we walk everywhere. I walk nearly everyday to check the mail and to get my groceries and put them in the bottom of our stroller or in the wagon.
Tip: Get in the habit of walking or biking to where you need to go. Using your vehicle only for long distances or if you plan on making a big purchase. Buy a wagon if you have kids. It is fun for them and you can also fit your groceries or other purchases in there.
6. Make It Yourself. There are so many things that you could make yourself. Really the possibilities are endless. You can make everything from food to cosmetics.
When we are at the store and the girls see something that they are intrigued by, I ask myself if I could make it. Like cookies, granola bars, hummus, ketchup, everything! I really want to get into the habit of making as much as I can. It is healthier, costs way less and pollutes less. I even have gotten into the habit of making my own play-doh regularly.
Tip: When you go to purchase something ask yourself if it is something you could make yourself at home.
7. Borrow. There are also many things that you can just borrow, instead of purchase. Maybe you have some friends that you can exchange DVD’s, CD’s or video games with. Books can be borrowed from the library, instead of bought new.
Tip: Start borrowing DVD’s, CD’s or books from your close friends or family. Have them borrow from you too.
8. Buy Second Hand. We are very fortunate, pretty much everything that we own has been given to us. Our whole house is furnished with second hand furniture. The only thing we bought new was our kitchen table (5 years ago) and our mattress. The girls clothes are second hand, either given to us or bought at a thrift shop. Much of my kitchen appliances and utensils were given to me or bought at garage sales. We never buy anything new anymore.
This is especially great for kids toys too. We have found so many great bargains, on Polly pockets, pet shops, little people and cabbage patch dolls, all at least a quarter of the price than buying them brand new. Kids toys and book get worn out over time anyway, or eventually kids lose interest. You could save a lot of money by buying second hand toys.
Tip: If you have some thing that you need to purchase, get into the habit of checking the thrift shop first. It is likely that they will have it. They seem to have everything! Appliances, kitchen utensils and dishes, blankets, furniture, toys, movies, books, clothes.
Garage sailing is also a great way to find what you need (or want). There are also sites like eBay, Kijiji or Craigslist, where you can find what you are looking for second hand. Also check your grocery store bulletin board or your local newspaper classifieds.
9. Save your dishwater. Instead of doing dishes many times throughout the day, do them all at once or if you are like me and can’t handle having dirty dishes piled up, save your dishwater. I fill the sink less than half way to do the breakfast dishes, and then add more hot water when I do lunch dishes etc. Obviously if the water is really dirty, you will need to change it. Saving your dishwater is a great way to use a lot less water.
10. Purchase a stainless steel water bottle/drink from the tap. Most bottled water comes from the tap anyway! Instead of buying plastic water bottles all the time, grab a cup and drink up. You could even get a filter for your tap, if you are afraid of tap water. If you are always on the go and are constantly buying bottles water, purchase a stainless steel water bottle. They may seem expensive, but they cost a lot less than constantly buying the plastic bottles and you are saving on so much waste.
Even if you do recycle the plastic bottles, you are still purchasing them in the first place, which creates more of a demand and contributing to a lot of pollution. Producing these plastic bottles emits many toxins into the air, which is obviously no good, considering we need the air to breathe and live.
Tip: I suggest watching this short clip on The Story Of Bottled Water and share this information with your friends and family.
Those are a few of the everyday things I do to leave a lighter footprint. 🙂
Have a great day, be conscious and tread lightly!