Let me just say right now that I’m never going to be the Zero-Waste Girl with 4 years of trash in a Mason jar, but I’m determined to make changes to minimize my contribution to the waste out there.
Some things, like recycling, I’ve been doing forever, but some of these Earth-friendly practices I've only just started. It's amazing how quickly they become a habit. I feel weird if I throw a plastic wrapper or an apple core in the trash now.
I’m not suggesting you sit outside in a teepee, knitting your shoes from vegan wool. But, if this lazy, impatient, Indoor Girl can do it, you can too!
Here's what I'm doing:
- Just add water. We replaced our old 32oz. refill bottles, with mini concentrates. By adding water at home, you’re saving money, space, and reducing your carbon footprint. Use them with our amber glass bottles and DIY labels for a complete Earth Day win.
- Reusable shopping bags. This one is super easy. But if you haven’t yet, get yourself a few reusable shopping totes or string market bags. They look better and are easier to carry than plastic ones from the supermarket.
- Recycle in the Bathroom. Did you know that HDPE Plastics (think shampoo bottles) are right behind drink bottles in the pollution stakes? I keep a bamboo caddy under the sink to stow the plastics I use in there until I can transfer them to the recycling bin. Having somewhere convenient to stow it until I can take it out for recycling keeps me from chucking it in the trash.
- Composting. I admit I’m a latecomer to composting. The idea of a compost bin full of food scraps on my counter just didn't appeal. This one converted me. It's cute enough to leave out, and has a charcoal filter to capture any odor until you take it out to compost. I feel horrified when I think of all the vegetable waste I’ve thrown away (and all the free, high-quality fertilizer I was missing out on)!
- Natural materials for washing up. I swapped out my plastic dish brush for a natural wooden one with plant bristles more than 10 years ago. But we were still buying synthetic supermarket sponges until last year. This year, we’ve swapped to an all-natural, cellulose sponge. They look better, clean better, and have the same biodegradability as an oak leaf! If I need to scour something, I use this stainless mesh scrubber instead.
- Real Napkins. We talk a lot about elevating the everyday, but there is an obvious environmental advantage to using cloth napkins as well. When used correctly (with a personalized napkin ring) Cloth napkins are even more convenient than their paper counterparts. Same for dish towels over paper towels, every time.
- Dryer Balls. Not just a hilariously named product category. These wool balls significantly cut down on dry time, and provide a vehicle to give your laundry a sexy scent, too!
- Get a “Keep Cup” Most commuter cups are dorky and uninspiring, to say the least. We found some that are worth it.
- A cute water filter. Bottled water is number two behind plastic bags in the pollution stakes. We’ve been using a water filter for years but recently upgraded to this one, so we don’t have to hide it.
- Forever straws. Ours come with a cute washable pouch to hold them and a little brush to keep them clean on the go. Just chuck them in your bag and throw them in the dishwasher when you get home.
- Beeswax wrappers. A sustainable option to cling film. Beeswax wrappers smell great and feel good to use them instead of plastic. I need more.
- Bamboo toothbrush. Over one billion toothbrushes are tossed in the US alone. They never break down and end up in landfills or on beaches around the world and stay there for 1000+ years. That was it for me.
- Spruce. Remember the toilet paper drought of 2020? That was fun, right?This paper spray is cleaner than "dry-wiping," and you use less toilet paper to get clean. It eliminates the need for wet wipes that can also wreak havoc on your plumbing!
- Recycle Soft Plastics. Plastic food packaging can be recycled (even Styrofoam)! I know. I was as shocked as you were.
- Learn what to recycle, what NOT to recycle, and how to recycle it. Things that have more than one material (like trigger sprayers and atomizers) cannot be separated. And even recyclable materials (like pizza boxes) cannot be recycled on the greasy side, because they will corrupt the rest of the cardboard. Make a habit of cleaning, sorting, and separating your recyclables before they go into the bin.
Taken together, this may seem like a lot. Just pick something you can handle and make a start from there. You’ll find it’s easier than you thought, and you’ve already taken a positive step on your journey to be more mindful and reduce waste.
Good for you!