This post is no joke – Go Green, part 1

I realize that it’s probably a bad idea to post about anything serious on April Fool’s Day, but as April 22nd is Earth Day I plan to post suggestions throughout this month about easy ways to make yourself and your home more green.  Since today is the 1st, it is also my first Go Green post.

Let’s start with the basics.  Everyone knows that it is in your best interest and the best interest of the planet to recycle everything you possibly can.  Most cities in North America have already implemented curb side recycling programs and that is a wonderful thing to be sure.  However, as fantastic as a recycling program is it is more important to learn how to reduce the amount of waste your household produces.  Here are some easy suggestions.

  • When you go shopping buy items with less packaging.  This goes for all types of packages.  I find, however, that children’s toys are the worst culprits.  If you have items in the house that you use in large quantities, say toilet paper for instance, buy in bulk.  There is a lot less packaging in a case of 20 rolls of paper than in individual packs or packs of four.
  • Try to purchase items that have a high recycled content. They do tend to be a bit more expensive, but it is an expense that is worth while.  Look specifically for paper products made from recycled content.  Do you honestly need toilet paper made from first run trees?
  • Buy reusable items instead of disposable.  Obviously paper plates and plastic cups make party clean up that much easier but think of the waste!  Buy rechargeable batteries and avoid disposable pens and razors.
  • Reuse containers.  Glass and plastic jars can make great storage containers.  Always have extra pens lying around loose in that kitchen “thing drawer”?  Keep ’em contained.  Are you a gardener?  Use those jars for planting seedlings before transfer to the earth.  Store left overs in a washed and reused jar.
  •  Try using plastic or glass containers instead of zip lock bags.  If you can’t give up your zip lock infatuation, don’t think that they have to be single use only.  Zip lock bags can be used many, many times if they are properly washed and dried.
  • Use cloth napkins and dishtowels instead of paper.  It will up your weekly laundry load, but you’re discouraging wasteful paper consumption.
  • Bring your own takeout boxes when you go out to dinner.  Why take home a wasteful Styrofoam package when you could bring back your own washable Tupperware?
  • Bring your own reusable cup or mug when you go out to get coffee.
  • Invest in some canvas bags and bring them with you when you go grocery shopping.  If you forget your bags, make sure to bring the paper and plastic bags back to the store to be recycled.
  • Reuse wrapping paper.  Better yet, use cloth bags or material to wrap your gifts.  Encourage the recipients of the gifts to reuse the wrapping material.
  • Does your mailbox get flooded with useless junk?  Stop the madness.  Post a sign declining junk mail, contact the companies that keep sending you trash and have your name taken off the list.  Do you get too many catalogs?  The National Wildlife Federation has teamed up with the natural Resources Defense council to help reduce the number of unwanted catalogs sent through the mail (thereby reducing the amount of wasted paper as well as the fuel burned in the shipping process).  Register on line at Catalog Choice and end the madness.
  • If your town or city doesn’t have curbside recycling, or even if it does but doesn’t accept things like cardboard, stake out a local recycling drop.  Many large stores and grocery markets have recycling drop off areas.  Collect recyclables for a week and make it a habit to bring the goods to a drop off center.
  • A lot of household waste is compostable.  Start a compost pile in a remote corner of your yard.  Stores like Home Depot sell compost bins if you do not want to have it sitting out where bugs and pests can get to it.  Put food waste like leftovers, egg shells, banana peels and coffee grinds in the compost, aerate it by turning it over every week or so and use the nutrient rich compost you create to fertilize your garden or yard.
  • Most companies have arranged partnerships with financial institutions.  Talk to your bank and register to pay your bills on line.  Not only do you reduce the amount of paper mail sent to your house (and therefore the amount of energy used in the transport) but you save on monthly postal expenses. Seriously, $0.41 extra per bill?
My next Go Green post will be about Cleaning Green.
Making the decision to Go Green is an easy one, but it is important to remember that this is not an all or nothing situation.  Start with the basics.  Pick the things you think you are more likely to do and stick to them.  After you’ve become accustomed to your new life style, add other go green means. Every step you take should be one made with the thought of reducing your ecological footprint.

~ by CableGirl on Tuesday, April 1, 2008.

12 Responses to “This post is no joke – Go Green, part 1”

  1. Happy to report that I do most of these. Never thought about bringing my own take home container, but you can bet I’ll be starting and doing it when I can. It’s actually a pretty good idea. Those huge containers they give you leak and take up so much room in the refrigerator.

  2. This is an awesome list and puts mine to shame, except you forgot to mention composting in the back seat of the mini van. I do that and have been doing that for four years now successfully.

  3. Awesome tips! In our old neighborhood we had curbside recycling and it was the best, really miss that! And thanks for the link about the catalogs, I definitely get too many of those and would love to put a stop to that.

  4. Genuine question: here in L.A., we’re experiencing a severe water shortage. Is it still better to create more laundry than use paper products in your tip above re: cloth napkins?

  5. these are really great! a lot of them we already do, but some of them were so simple and practical! thanks!

  6. Good effort, CableG! After you use them for food (veggies and such), those ziploc bags (the big ones) make the best toy holders. And you can use them over and over on several trips before the zipper gives out. They are great because you don’t have to worry about small parts falling out and you can toss them in your backpack, in a carry-on etc, in your cargo pants pockets, etc.

  7. hey I liked the simple yet so effective..thanks for sharing the list.

  8. Cool list… I hadn’t stopped to think about what our household does, but a lot of things are on this list. We’ve had a compost pile forever, and I keep wrapping paper (a hold over from my childhood… my mom would reuse all sort of wrapping paper and bows.)

  9. Great tips! I use old wine bottles and drying “racks” for my ziplock bags.

  10. We reuse a lot around here. Plus I know we get recycled TP in bulk and we reuse all the ziploc bags we have (all from America, fyi, never seen them here). I also use a backpack to grocery shop and CB reuses large Aldi bags as well. Oh, plus I got the Diva Cup while I was in the US so next month I’ll have a go at using that.

  11. LOVE IT! I’m big on going green and I do everything I can to help improve the state of the environment. Looking forward to more green posts!!

  12. Today I took an old purse that I know I was saving for some purpose and cut out elbow patches for my wool sweater. There is so much we can do to reduce wastes in our communities if we just use our heads and hearts. What do you do to reduce wastes in your life? People Power Granny challenges you to keep up with me in reducing wastes while increasing recycling. Mother Earth depends on us, and so do our grand kids. Share what you’re doing?

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