I’ve planted a garden in my backyard, I reuse plastic bags from the store, and where I work I make sure things that are going to be wasted find a better use. An example would be the plastic bags that keep our tea fresh; I gave the empties to a co-worker who could use them to keep his cereal from going stale.
Ever since I owned Brita filter, I’ve been drinking much less bottled and canned sodas and teas. Good fo the environment and good for me too.
I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, and have started planning my meals ahead of time, which helps me both buy only the groceries I really need and also have a plan for bringing leftovers from the night before as a lunch to work the next day. I also try to be conscious of my water usage and avoid taking long showers, try to be as efficient as possible when washing my dishes, and turn off the water while I’m brushing my teeth. I recycle as much as I can and reuse as many items in my home as I can, such as using glass jars from products I buy from the grocery store to hold bulk items and other materials, rather than throwing them out.
I found that replacing lightbulbs with flourescent bulbs, replacing the shower nozzle and toilet with a water-efficient ones, and opening the window/using blankets and sweatshirts instead of the heater or air conditioning have helped me waste less. When I replaced the old appliances with energy-efficient ones, I stopped even having to think about it, and no matter what, I’m still being more conservative than I was before. This works really well since I live with multiple people, and they’re being more efficient, too, without even knowing it! Combined with other conscious efforts, like taking noticeably shorter showers and turning off the appliances when I leave the room, I have been able to reduce my wastefulness.
Bulk olive bars at grocery stores have little plastic containers for you to put olives and stuff in. They are meant for one use, but they are surprisingly heavy duty, so I’ve been using those at home, but also bringing them back to buy olives with again.
I just started shoving plastic produce bags into a paper towel roll (which I reallllly try to use less of) to store and use as garbage can liners. Plus the roll is reused.
We have planted a raised bed garden using only heirloom, organic seeds. It has all the vegetables, herbs, and flowers that we use for meals, cooking, teas and more. It is easy and fun – lettuce, spinach, tomato, cucumber, radishes, turnips, peppers (bell and jalapeno), corn, rosemary, cilantro, chamomile, sunflowers (with edible seeds), poppies, apple trees, blueberries and more.
We use only cloth bags for shopping. We store any leftovers in glass so we can re-heat, and clean easily.
We only drink our water from the tap (we have a safe source) and we refill it in Voss bottles that we buy once and wash out and refill if we need to bring water with us.
We use a clothesline, rather than the dryer unless weather doesn’t permit.
If we purchase meat – it’s from a butcher shop that is local and that has only free range, grass grazed cattle and humanely raised pork from a family farm, with no anti-biotics, no hormones, no chemicals or additives.
Like the others, I bring reusable bags to stores and reuse any containers that I can ( I drink out of mainly olive and jelly jars).
I belong to a CSA and buy builk meat from them (it comes in their cooler, I put it in mine and give theirs back, no Styrofoam!) and I get my fruits and veggies from them, so I have very little food packaging.
I save newspapers to use to start fires. I buy eggs from a friend and I return the cartons to him. I don’t use paper towels.
I recycle everything I can in my area (glass, tin, aluminum, paperboard, office paper, magazines). I save neat papers for wrapping paper and when given a gift I generally reuse the paper or bag the gift was in.
My furniture is used (from garage sales or friends) except for the pieces I have that are made from recycled barnwood.
I too use reusable shopping bags. When a member of my family forgets, the bags are always used as trash bags. I switch of lights and have gotten into the habit of unplugging “sleeping” electronic devices – the TV & DVD player, laptop charger, toothbrush charger, etc. I’ve also learned to strategically plan my route when I have errands to run, saving me both time and gas. I park farther away from a location rather than wasting time circling, looking for a spot.
Also, I don’t idle my car to warm it up – I read an article that explained that if you’re idling for more than ten seconds, you’ve spent more gas than shutting your car off and restarting it would, and that your car is more effectively warmed through driving.
In addition to the other contributions, I would add that I look to reuse and buy recycled whenever possible, even when purchasing clothing and accessories. Buying from a vintage store or goodwill is not only hip these days but green and sustainable!
Along the lines of bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, I always keep a travel mug in my car and home to use when I buy coffee. At the convenience store on my block, it gets me half off the price and, of course, it’s eco-friendly.
I compost most of my food waste in my backyard garden, including eggshells, dryer lint, and tea bags. The local coffee shop has coffee grounds and tea bags available for composting (the acid in these products helps break down food), and many coffee shops will gladly give you their old coffee grounds and tea bags if you ask. When I’m eating out, I try not to get a lid or straw for my drinks, and avoid taking too many napkins. I also bring reusable bags to the grocery store and avoid buying products with too much packaging.
I rarely throw anything out because I know that I’ll need it later. For example, I save old plastic containers from olives and use them as food storage later. Other things can be useful for craft projects, like old ribbons, glass, cardboard, candy wrappers etc. I usually donate old clothing to the Salvation Army, but if anything’s too worn, I wash it and use it as a rag. Also, instead of trashing things, I try to recycle them.
I have this weird thing about hating to spend money on food, so I challenge myself to buy as little food as possible. I have a garden in my backyard, and I grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, onions, garlic, and lettuce. And I try not to buy anything unless I need it, and know I’ll use it. Buying clothing is kind of my downfall because I love fashion, but I try to buy basics and wear them in different ways so I only have to buy a few new pieces each season.
I try to limit the amount of disposable products I use. I hate eating off of paper plates and Styrofoam bowls. Drinking out of plastic cups is a pet peeve of mine and prefer to use real dishes. I will also do almost anything to refrain from using Styrofoam since it will never biodegrade and cannot be recycled.
Another way I like to reduce waste is to purchase electronic items. I buy all of my books on my kindle. I want to have a book collection and started buying actual paper books, but not only would have it have been more convenient and cheaper to buy ebooks it also keeps resources from being wasted. Same goes for purchasing music, I buy it online.
I try to think about every action I take throughout the day. If I can’y afford to buy organic, I don’t buy an item. I research the items that I buy often, like soymilk and cereal to male sure that I buy the most earth-friendly items that I can. One big step that I have taken that I think cuts down on a lot of waste and energy is really putting a lot of thought and effort into just buying less period. Less cothing, less food, less knick knacks. When I moved into a new place I bought every single peice of furniture used.
I bring green bags to the grocery store. I always leave a lot in the trunk of my car so I don’t forget to bring them down from my apartment. When I am in the product isle, if I am getting a fruit or vegetable with a tougher skin, I don’t get a plastic produce bag for it. I’ve been collecting wine bottle corks and other waste items to make artwork out of instead of throwing them away. When I take notes on paper, I always use up as much of it as I can. When I was in college, I would tear out the used pages of notebook and use the rest of the blank pages next semester. I have also begun really trying to wear out my clothes before getting rid of them or getting new clothing.
I take public transportation, walk or bike as much as I can. I always ask myself if I really need it or if having it will make me better off or happier before I buy ANYTHING. I bring my own utensils to work, so I don’t have to use disposable utensils. I buy loose tea leaves. I use a french press coffee maker. I only read books from the public library. I try not to eat fast food or buy starbucks (the latter option is hard to keep sometimes) Sometimes, I sew things, instead of buying. Basically, anytime I need sometime, I try to look for alternatives that might already exist at home, instead of heading straight to the store.
I use paper that has only been printed on one side of it. I get the paper from recycling bins or from my dad who brings them home from work. I think a lot of the little stuff can add up, like a lot of the things that previous answerers do. Though I am definitely using this quote out of context, it is like Michael Fassbender’s character said in the recent movie Prometheus: “Big things have small beginnings.”
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