In honor of Earth Day being this April 22, I decided to share the ways our family attempts to live environmentally conscious lives. We are a family of four, so without implementing these practices, our waste would likely be out of control. Some things are second nature, like properly sorting trash, recycle and compost. Other things take a little bit of effort, but pay off greatly in reducing what leaves our house on garbage day.
Reusable shopping bags
It is becoming the norm everywhere to bring your own bags. Many stores now charge you for using a plastic bag, which I think is a huge step in the right direction towards eliminating disposable bags. If you are frugal like me, then you always do your best to not forget your bags when entering stores. My favorite reusable bags are from Costco. They are so large, sturdy and perfect if you refuse to take two trips like I do.
Reusable produce bags
Okay, so this one is a little more difficult. One day while browsing the clearance section at the back of Superstore, I came across little mesh reusable produce bags. I picked them up and keep them tucked in my reusable store bags. The thing about produce, is so much of it comes pre-wrapped, which defeats the purpose of using my own mesh bags. Now that I am more conscious of this, I do my best to pick produce that comes loose. Sometimes that means going to different local food stores, like Chops Meat Market in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Filling your own container is a new program at Bulk Barn. It is as simple as bringing your own clean container from home, having it weighed before your start shopping, then subtracting that weight from your filled container at the check out. It takes a few extra minutes of preparation and results in less flimsy Bulk Barn bags kicking around your kitchen.
Living in Halifax, this one is a requirement. Every house is provided with a green bin and it is your responsibility to put any compostable items in the bin, rather than your garbage can. Learning what goes into the green bin was fun at first and is now second nature. Composting is one of my favorite ways to reduce waste, because rotting is the perfect way to return what you don’t use to the earth.
Reusable water bottles
Bringing along your own water bottle is a great way to make sure your don’t stop to buy a plastic bottle while you are on the run. My bag usually has at least one stainless steel bottle for myself and one of the Contigo kids bottles.
Washing clothes with cold water
I have practiced washing in cold water for as long as I can remember. When we had Kain and the amount of laundry increased, we invested in apartment washer that hooks up to the kitchen sink. The only times we have ever used hot water, is for cloth diapers.
Again, going back to my childhood, I remember one of my chores being hanging the clothes on the clothesline. When we purchased our apartment washer, we also bought a drying rack. Since then, I can count on two hands how many times we have used a dryer for our clothes. Where we live now, we have an outside clothesline and it is literally one of my favorite things about this house lol.
Zero waste shower routine
A new trend is to be zero waste, which essentially is producing no (or as little as possible) actual garbage that heads to the landfill. We are definitely reducing our waste greatly, but a place where we have cut out a lot of unnecessary packaging is in the shower. All of our soaps, body washes and shampoo come in bar form. For the kids, I found them really nice soap for sensitive skin at bulk barn for under $2 a bar. I also got them a shampoo bar there that was at a similar price point. For myself, most of my shower items come from LUSH. I use their naked shower cream, Jason and The Argan Oil shampoo bar and Jungle solid conditioner bar. The only shower item I haven’t switched yet is a razor to a safety razor, which seems intimidating to me.
Daily hygiene items
In this area, we have gradually been making small changes. Recently we have switched our toothbrushes to bamboo. Also I use a package free deodorant from LUSH. Our next step is finding an alternative to conventional dental floss and floss picks. Making small changes to your daily routine makes a big difference in the long run.
The first and easiest ways to go paperless is to switch to e bills and use flyer apps instead of paper flyers. In the kitchen, we have gone completely paperless by eliminating paper napkins and paper towel. I was able to find some cheap cloth napkins at value village, which have been an easy transition, even with small kids. Eliminating paper towels has been just as easy. All it took was having a few extra dish cloths, dish towels and wash cloths.