As I have gotten older, progressed into my mid-thirties, the environmental cost as well as actual monetary cost of goods has weighed heavily on my mind. There is often an internal battle between doing good and having shiny new things. Do you ever struggle with that?
As much as I love my new little green car, I still love a muscle car, fast and loud. As much as I feel like I am doing good riding my bike, the leather seats of Mercedes sometimes call my name. It’s an interesting tug-of-war that I know many people struggle with. Just like anything, there is some of that tug-of-war anytime you are transforming.
Getting rid of toxic products in your house is not only good for the environment and your wallet, but it also is good for your human suit.
It seems to be pretty common misconception that living green means spending more “green” and obsessing over it all day every day. Interestingly, I’m not finding that to be the case (and I used to think the same way).
Many think that because disposable is cheap, it saves money. That’s not always the case. Once upon a time, I was a solid purveyor of all kinds of things that are cool and green and gadgety and super expensive. Now, I think that given our new set of goals, I think more about each item and the uses and savings (environmentally and in my wallet).
I’ve put together a few things that help you save some green and some money at the same time, I call it my Low Cost Low Waste Kit (Zero Waste Starter Kit). Using these items, we have helped to reduce our spending at the grocery store AND reduced our garbage output.
On average, for our family of 4, we use 1 partial bag of actual trash, and 1 partial recycle bin each week.
Here’s the Low Cost Low Waste Kit:
- Reusable Water Bottles. These are super important especially if you are buying bottled water by the case. (We weren’t heavy water bottle buyers in the first place.) I know that you recycle, but as a planet we only recycle 23% of the bottles used, the rest end up in landfills.
Not to mention, recycling ain’t all its cracked up to be. Its best to reduce, reuse and as a last resort recycle. You can find my favorites BPA free plastic ones here:http://amzn.to/2ozq4ql (let’s face it they are easier for the kids to use). And my favorite glass one here: http://amzn.to/2nBOIld
- Reusable Shopping Bags. Some really cool places (like Austin, TX) don’t allow anything other than reusable shopping bags. And that’s a great thing! Although they can be recycled, they are prone to blowing all over the place and ending up hanging from trees and more importantly in our water-ways.
- Jars, Jars, Jars. I love to buy things in glass jars. Firstly because its better than having your food sit in plastic or aluminum cans — they have chemicals that can leach into your food. And secondly because I love to reuse the jars for food storage, table decor, as vases, as glasses to drink from in my home. We use them for rinsing out paint brushes, making candles, catching critters in the creek, the possibilities are endless. They are truly reusable long-term.
- Wooden/Bamboo Toothbrush. Did you know that over 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year? Yeah, that’s a $hit-ton. Yikes! Those things are NOT biodegradable. I know in the past we have been guilty of chunking a TON of them.
Buying the wooden/bamboo brushes doesn’t change the amount of times we trade toothbrushes, but it does mean it is biodegradable when we do. Plus, personally I think they last a little longer. Try this one on for your pearly whites:http://amzn.to/2nFoq1E They are roughly the same price as the plastic grocery store options. My biggest struggle is keeping them separate. I find that using a colored pen on the handle helps.
- Stainless Steel Drinking Straws. Have you ever been to a public beach? We went to one last year that doesn’t get a lot of funding and ever since then I’ve become a stainless straw convert.
See there were thousands and thousands of plastic straws ALL OVER THE SAND, washing in and out with the waves. Terribly sad. It weighed heavily on me, as I was buying disposable straws to use at home.
Straws have the same trouble as grocery bags, they blow out of trash and recycle trucks and bins. I LOVE my stainless straws (here’s the ones I have: http://amzn.to/2oDav17 ) and while I’m not to the point of taking them with me, I do either try to request a reusable straw or none at all while dining out.
- Produce bags. Okay so reusable produce bags don’t save you any green because most stores won’t give you a discount for bringing your own. But refer back to number two, the same reasons apply to using produce bags as do to reusable shopping bags.
So give these a try, I have had mine for YEARS. (And I still get a funny look at the grocery store sometimes.) Try these on, they are light and easily washed:http://amzn.to/2nc3YtJ
- Composting Bin. As you know we have started composting our food wastes. I will soon do a post on what goes in the composter… basically any seedless fruit or veggie scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds. Dairy and protein don’t go in.
When you are shopping for a composter, make sure it can turn, otherwise you get to do it with a shovel. It takes about a year, but you will have some sweet-ass-soil for your fruit and veggie garden! Here’s the one we use:http://amzn.to/2oK2u75 (to be 100% honest I wish it were a little bigger, but its a great starter).
- Reusable sandwich bags. This is a MUST. We use Bento style boxes for the kids lunches (and for the hubby’s lunches too!). I do still buy zippie bags BUT we use them as infrequently as possible. Our school require them to bring 100% disposable lunches sometimes, and other times there are things we eat that the bento-style boxes don’t quite work for.
All-and-all we have cut down our reusable baggie bill (and deposit into landfills) by roughly 85%. We love these bento style boxes: http://amzn.to/2oKdhyl and these reusable lunch baggies: http://amzn.to/2ncih1J . You will need 1-2 sets per family member. We have had ours for years.
These 8 items will get you started in flexing your environmentally responsible muscles AND save you some green in the process.
What are some of your favorite green practices/items?