Confession time. Back in the day when there were far fewer blogs, my best friend and I had a little blog that was all about leading an environmentally conscious lifestyle. She had a new baby, and I had a new marriage and college, so it didn't last long. But my passion for reducing waste and finding ways to be gentler on our environment never left me. I don't talk about these sorts of things to make anyone feel badly about these choices. My sincere hope is that we can all see where we are and make little changer to make our world a better place for the next generations. Let's get onto the practical stuff, shall we?
1. Try reusable food wrap. I recently tried Abeego and I am thrilled! This food wrap uses beeswax and can be repeatedly for a year or longer! Simply press Abeego around your food or dish and enjoy fresh food with less in the trash can.
2. Clear out the fridge! We have immensely enjoyed our new produce box that arrives each Friday - and it's been a positive challenge for our family to incorporate all the fruits and vegetables. I have found that our food is even more delicious and creative when we work with what we have and try out new combinations. In fact, the way I start planning our groceries each week is by surveying what we have and working from there. I have also discovered some simple dishes that don't require recipes but use up lots of produce remnants. Dishes like stir fry, veggie pizza, curry, salad, and pasta work nicely with many vegetables and straggling ingredients.
3. Opt for secondhand or exchange groups. I'll be honest. I can be quick to add something to an Amazon cart or run to Target for an item. But what if I could find something great that someone else is looking to be rid of? Places like Thred Up have proved excellent for like-new kids clothes or garments of mine that need replacing. Additionally, here in Seattle we have local "Buy Nothing" groups, where you can let people know you are looking for an item or even give some away yourself.
4. Can you make it instead? I was considering a dry shampoo from Whole Foods when I had the hunch to check the ingredients. What I discovered was I had everything I needed to make dry shampoo at home! To my delight, I could make this product in a glass I already had and saved $15 while I was at it. Whether it's a simple cosmetic like face powder, a cleaning product, or a baked good you're craving, you can save money and waste by trying DIY first.
5. Try a service like Imperfect Produce, or a local produce delivery. We have been trying Imperfect Produce for over a month now, and I am elated to say it's a produce box that is working for our family. The price is modest because sometimes the food is visibly different from what you'd buy at the store (although it is hardly anything I notice). Not only does using Imperfect Produce significantly reduce waste on a larger scale, but you're also avoiding the annoying packaging that can often be found on fresh fruits and veggies.
6. Prioritize less packaging. There are stores and products I love that use excessive packaging. I find that I can plan more strategically and buy produce without packaging or selectively choose brands that are more in line with my values.
7. Opt for ethical and sustainable first. If you're on a budget like me, this one can take time, experimentation, and prioritizing. However, with more people interested in eco-friendly products, there are more affordable offerings popping up everywhere. I have found compostable toothbrushes in packs on Amazon, and have found that sometimes the ethical and sustainable choice is to make use of something I already own, avoiding an extra purchase altogether. If you are looking for something specifically, I'd love to hear from you. There are a lot of great, creative ways to reduce your impact.
8. Use a service like Thrive Market to save and avoid impulse buys. When it comes to my spending problem, it is without a doubt at Whole Foods and PCC (our Seattle cooperative health food store). I would like to say I can't help myself. I always find something we "need" or something new I would like to try as I am running in for something else. We are trying out Thrive Market this month for strategic savings. Not only do they often offer lower prices than my local stores I frequent, but I can price compare and shop one for items I know I need. Not only will I be able to track my spending, but I'll reduce my opportunities to pick up things I don't actually need.
9. Try a capsule wardrobe/no buy challenge. I was feeling like I was in a huge style rut recently. But I also know I get funky-feeling when I make decisions that don't align with my values. Because I have the strong desire to be more on the minimalist and environmentally conscious side, I didn't want to rush out to replace my wardrobe or even buy a bunch of products/things that I would regret in a month. So I kind of did the opposite - and have been so pleased! There are simple instructions on this site on how to build a capsule wardrobe. I am using only clothes I already have to start. I divided my clothes seasonally and pared down. I discovered that I can see everything beautifully in my closet and getting ready has never been easier.
Alternatively, some people give up shopping for a designated amount of time. Would it be challenging to give up buying clothes or certain items you are used to purchasing impulsively? Challenge yourself and help the environment and your wallet simultaneously!
10. Bring your own/use what you have. "I like your cups," the barista said. I looked down at my old travel mug and my mason jar and shrugged. "Thanks!" I used to feel weird about passing off my cups and cloth bags to people, but now I recognize the importance of the little things. Bringing your own bags and to-go food and drink containers may seem small, but it will make a huge difference over time. And who knows! Maybe you can inspire someone along the way.
If you enjoy posts like this, let me know! I am always thinking of ways for our little family to make conscious changes, and I would be happy to share.
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