We want to be eco friendly
Many of us want to make choices that are more eco-friendly, but we rather like our conveniences, don’t we? I have to tell you that regardless of methane gas, I’m going to continue eating my steak. But, I can choose to bring a reusable bag to the store to bring my steak home. Here are some quick and easy changes I made at home to be more eco-friendly that my family hardly even notices.
Easy eco friendly changes for you
- Buy the large bag and divvy it up
This was one of the first changes that we made, and it was more for cost effectiveness though I also cared about the eco-friendly option. When the kiddos were little and I was packing 3-4 lunches a day, it completely made sense to buy a big box, or family size box of snacks (think of the big cartons of Goldfish crackers or big bags of pretzels, and divvy it up. With three of them eating a snack every day, it didn’t take long to go through a big bag, so they neither got sick of it nor did it get stale.
I do this with other things too, though. It’s just like buying extra when it’s on sale, I often buy a giant bag of shredded cheese and then divide it and freeze ½. There is less packaging, and therefore less garbage. On the off chance that something starts to get stale before we use it all, the chickens and duck are more than happy for a treat.
2. Cook from scratch and give the kitchen scraps to the critters
While I do cheat from time to time and buy the prepackaged meal kits, we usually cook our meals from scratch. Again, this is an economic choice, but the waste savings are huge too. My biggest complaint of the meal kits is all the single use plastic packaging.
Cooking from scratch allows us to purchase seasonally (eco friendly), buy in large quantities instead of many small packages (eco friendly), give the kitchen prep scraps to the barnyard fowl (eco friendly), and sometimes make a double recipe to have it all prepped for a future meal or saved in reusable single serve containers for future brown bagged lunches (eco friendly).
Also, my one trip to and from the grocery store for a week’s worth of meals is far better than multiple trips to and from town for take out or delivery (eco friendly). We can add in the health benefits of less fat and preservatives, also the less worry about food allergens,…
3. Create cleaning rags from old clothes
Rather than throwing out the stained and ripped clothes (we donate good outgrown clothes to others when we can), we often cut them up and use them for cleaning rags. They may still end up in the landfill, but they will be used hundreds of times more before that trip. I love the waffle weave of long johns for gentle scrubbing, but holey towels cut down work great too for so many things.
We also can use the clothes for some other things too, just as ripped or cut in strips and then turned into a rag rug, or crocheted into a basket. I have a whole board on Pinterest with ideas of how to upcycle old clothes and other items. Check it out!
4. Reusable containers
Glass would be one of the best reusable containers for us, except that they still seem to get broken on a regular basis. So…we use a lot of plastic. Still putting leftovers, or snacks, or brown bag lunches into some sort of reusable plastic container is better than a single use container.
Our one mindful exception to this, is that we buy single servings of peanut butter for my daughter and I to take with our lunches. We choose this rather than risk and peanut oil residue on a reusable container that my son might use as he has a severe nut allergy. I prefer the peace of mind for him to be comfortable using the plastic containers. I often choose items in the store in a plastic container that I can reuse (think deli meat) rather than flimsier plastic packaging. The flimsier stuff can crush down more in the landfill, but I can reuse the other plastic container a bunch of times!
5. Cloth napkins (this one they noticed)
My children like the idea of “fancy” cloth napkins, but they don’t necessarily like this one. I really don’t understand why. It’s super easy to use a cloth napkin and toss it in the laundry. However, my family would really rather have paper towels that they can scoop up a mess and toss out.
6. Reusable market totes
I sew and sell these reusable market totes. If you would like directions to make your own, please sign up here. I use these bags for EVERYTHING from trips to the beach to picking apples, overnight trips to actually grocery shopping.
These are eco-friendly in two ways. First, we repurpose empty feedbags that would otherwise go to the landfill (they are not recyclable). Our plethora of empty chicken feed bags got us started on this. Second, the reusable bags versus single use plastic bags are such an easy switch. Being plastic, they are easy to clean and disinfect, as well.
7. Our own dessert cups in reusable containers
Again, this was born from an economic choice but that money savings is hand in hand with the eco friendly choice. Rather than buying single serve desserts in single use cups, we have a number of single serve reusable containers. We make up our own desert cups, or jello & canned-fruit cups, or pudding cups, or yogurt cups,… These are perfect for brown bag lunches and ⅓ to ½ the cost of those in the store. It’s just like making our own popsicles or our own gogurts (except I have yet to find a good reusable gogurt container, just single use specialty “bags”).
8. Reusable coffee filter
This affects only me, as I am the only one in our house who drinks coffee. I have had a number of reusable filters over the past twenty years, but my favorite is one that has a plastic lip that fits right over a mason jar or travel mugs, and then a very fine, nylon-type filter. This is the one that has been the most durable and easiest to clean. While k cups are easy, I hated all that trash. Now, I don’t even have a coffee maker, I just heat up water on the stove and pour it over my grounds in this filter. (I’ve been known to use the filter to strain other things as well.)
9. Intend to buy our own soda stream type machine for our own soda and hard seltzers
We intend to buy ourselves a new kitchen gadget, something that makes our own carbonated drinks. The kids and husband will enjoy their own sodas, and the husband and I can enjoy our own hard seltzers, lemonades, etc. In my mind this is no different than making my own coffee at home.
What eco friendly change will you slip in first?
These were all easy adjustments that my family has made (sometimes without even realizing it) to do our part to be more self-sustaining and eco friendly. What choices do you make for your home to be more eco friendly or self-sustaining?
Sign up here for our easy to follow instructions to make your own reusable market tote.
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