9 (Maybe Crazy) Things I Do To Leave A Lighter Footprint

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!🙂

14 thoughts on “9 (Maybe Crazy) Things I Do To Leave A Lighter Footprint

  1. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who is super-conscious about recycling and re-using stuff! Sometimes I feel like a weirdo because I’ll go out of my way just to make sure something gets recycled. Same way about re-usable shopping bags – been doing it for years and years! I haven’t tried composting yet, but I know if you go to the “Organic Gardening” magazine’s website, they have good info on that.
    Hearing about all the things you’re willing to do to be a good steward of this beautiful Earth is so inspiring! It’s made me take a second look at other ways that I can make a positive difference as well.

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  2. Hey, those things aren’t crazy! I do most of them too! 🙂 My household seem to generate very little garbage (one, maybe two grocery sized bags a week), and could cut that if we get ourself a balcony compost. We’ve been checking them out. I keep lecturing people on how much garbage and MONEY they could save, if they stopped buying prepackaged “EVERYTHING”. *flagging arms around wildly* It actually makes me sick, how much garbage my parents produce… You want to hear crazy? We spent three weeks trying to toilet train our cat, Harvey. Of course, he wanted nothing to do with it (although he does find the flushing entertaining). Do you know how much litter/garbage/money that would save? Now that we have two kitties, we may have to try again.

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  3. Ugh, I need to figure out how I can start recycling, none of the towns around here include recycling pickup as part of waste management 😦

    Have you ever looked into making your own cleaning products? You mentioned cleaning the cloth diapers with baking soda and soap, but it’s actually very easy and very cheap to make your own laundry soap, dish soap, other household cleaners, and hygiene items like shampoo and face wash! (The most common things used in them are borax, washing soda, baking soda, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and castille soap.) I was inspired by diynatural.com and bought their ebook for all their homemade cleaning recipes, you should definitely check them out!

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    • I have been wanting to make my own soap, but don’t know where to find essential oils and castile soap. I just use vinegar to clean with and the laundry soap that we use is eco-friendly. Thanks for the link! 🙂

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      • The homemade stuff is much much cheaper than commercial green products; most of their recipes include a cost breakdown so you can see how much per ounce you’re saving. Also, I just remembered that diynatural also has their recipe for peanut butter posted (it’s pretty much just peanuts in a blender/food processor with however much salt or sweetener you want), so maybe you can satisfy your PB fix from home too!

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  4. Wow … you are doing so much! 🙂 Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone did even one of the things you are doing! It would be awesome! I’ve been composting for awhile. I live in an apartment and use a 10 gallon planter as my composter. It sits on my patio. I’m vegan so only ever compost plant-based materials (plant foods, paper products, etc.). Since my compost isn’t in a nice pile which gets a lot of air, I simply get my garden tools out and give it a “stir” every once in awhile. I don’t put cooked foods in it because they’ll rot. Once I place organic material in, I always place a layer of soil on top … that keeps the smell down. I also toss in worms that make their way to my patio … they are good workers and make for a nice, rich compost. It’s really easy and it’s amazing how quickly organic material decomposes. I hope you’ll give it a try. There are a few posts on my blog about composting that I could point you to if you’re interested. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: All About Cloth Diapering – How and Why We Cloth Diaper | Live. Learn. Love. Eat.

  6. So glad I stumbled across your website. I just started composting food scraps with red worms. They can eat just about anything grown on earth except citrus. I started a worm farm about a month ago and it is thriving! I will soon be selling the worm castings as well as compost tea to organic farmers and plan to use plenty of it myself. The worms produce quickly so I will also be selling them to others who would like to use this method of composting. I went to youtube and searched for videos on starting a worm farm and found a variety of ideas. I am using plastic totes indoors right now and will be adding more totes as the worm population increases. The best information to start with came from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm but there are plenty of others with useful iformation.
    I was searching for a name for my e-mail and future website and decided to google a lighter footprint and your website came up. I’m really looking forward to reading all your info.I’ve always had a passion for cooking and gardening, but the past couple years is the start of going organic and vegetarian for me. I’m lovingit!

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    • Hi Carol! Thanks for your comment! Interesting to hear about the worm farm. I am glad that you found my site and enjoy it. Feel free to comment anytime and good luck on switching over to vegetarian and organic foods. 🙂

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