Each and every one of us – in my opinion – are responsible for the state of our planet. This is not a crusade I’m on…I simply feel that I can and SHOULD do my part to limit the obscene amount of waste we North Americans tend to be prone to. We live in a throw-away capitalist economy that glorifies convenience at any cost. Unfortunately, the cost ends up being paid by the one planet we have to live on!
Today’s post will center around reducing waste: a green activity that very often saves MONEY and necessitates organization all at the same time! Tall order? I don’t think so. Here are some steps we’re taking to reduce waste.
reducing garbage ~
By forming these three habits, we have reduced our average bag total from 6 to 2 per WEEK!
- Rinsing and reusing containers (yogurt, cottage cheese, glass jars, etc.) can cut down on a great deal of garbage can space and provide great containers for storing bulk food goods, for sending leftovers out (that don’t take your tupperware with them), and even for home storage for small items.
- Composting removes paper, food (except dairy, meats and oils) from your can: this includes items that rot before you can use them…hopefully this doesn’t happen often! I will post at a later date on composting: I still have lots to learn!
- Recycling removes cans, bottles, paper rolls, tissue boxes, thin plastic containers and more from your garbage can. If your city doesn’t offer curbside pick-up it may offer a depot for dropping off your unneeded but still valuable garbage.
local goods ~
While occasionally buying local can cost a tad more (as it is generally organic and the producers aren’t able to compete with mass farming), many times it is cheaper…especially if you visit the farm or the farmers’ market. Even better than supporting your local economy first, is the fact that buying local reduces environmental impact as the cost of transportation from Mexico, South Africa, and California drops to nearly zero!
getting creative with gift giving ~
- Cut down on spending and waste by using reusable fabric bags or recycled gift bags instead of buying disposable paper bags or wrapping paper. Most stores offer reusable fabric bags, and dollar stores often have a great selection.
- Instead of spending $3-5 each time a card is warranted, make your own card or skip a card entirely. The majority of people dispose of stacks of birthday and Christmas cards in time (if not immediately): this is wasted cardboard, production costs AND money!
- For baby clothing that is rarely worn more than a few times, shop used clothing/consignment stores. My cousin recently held a baby shower and I was able to purchase a stack (approximately 15 items) of very sweet, very new-looking, brand name baby clothes for only $20! She loved them! Similarly, for children, books and lightly used toys can be as great as buying new!
go green even with your eating ~
- Fresh fruits and vegetables are inexpensive – especially when in season – and are extremely good for you! By upping the amount of produce you eat over other foods (such a processed goods, meats, and dairy), the more you save and the more you GAIN in healthy eating!
- Don’t buy more than you can eat, especially when just beginning to experiment with new varieties of produce (after all, iceburg lettuce, baby carrots and cucumbers can get really old, really quickly).
- Use care with storage to prevent bruising/rotting. You won’t likely eat produce that browns or rots, and this is caused primarily by two things: suffocating in plastic produce bags and bruising. Some ideas are to use (and reuse) produce saver bags, produce baskets in the fridge for easily damaged produce and/or avoid stuffing the crisper drawers so full that damage can occur.
- Pre-cut your vegetables to make them ready-to-eat before storing them in the fridge. This saves valuable lunch preparation time as well as makes a healthy go-to for a snack. I know I’ve thrown out a head of lettuce or a stalk of broccoli simply because I never got around to getting it ready to use.
- Freeze almost-gone/on sale produce. This saves both waste AND money! Chop up peppers, onions and mushrooms and freeze for a great go-to for quick meals like omellettes, frittatas, fajitas and more!
- Meal planning for a week or two at a time will not only reduce waste (as you have on hand what you’ll need), but also money as shopping to a menu planned list removes impulse buying and multiple trips to the store. It also helps to avoid eating out/ordering in which generally costs the average couple 60% more than making and eating food at home.
- Check out this great resource to learn more about food and waste.
buy used items often ~
Almost always when I’m looking for an item for the house I head to kijiji.ca, freecycle sites (in the States ebay classifieds or craigslist). Why pay upwards of $50-75 on a cast iron frying pan when I can find one on kijiji for $10!? Many items and services are available on these community sites at MUCH lower prices. The only catch is that you have to pick it up on your own…however this avoids major disappointments compared to online auctions as you can simply say “no thanks” if it isn’t what you’re looking for.
After some recent weight loss I was short of clothing. For $70 at Value Village I was able to replace most of my wardrobe including some accessories to match the new outfits…AND I was able to help out the community at the same time! Even at the local Walmart I couldn’t have gotten more than 3 or 4 shirts and a pair of pants (with NO accessories) for that price!
For some pre-made home-binder resources including cupboard inventories (so that you know what you have/need), menu planning, shopping lists and more visit here! This is where the organization comes in, but it ultimately saves time and money if you’re willing to step up! Knowing what you have means you’re less likely to go over budget, buy items not on your list and – ultimately – waste!