This is the third installment in my series about simplifying your transition to a greener, more eco-friendly and healthier lifestyle.
So here’s the deal, we’ve got a lot of trash on the planet and even though most things can be recycled, they aren’t. The growing consensus is we aren’t going to be able to recycle our way out of this waste problem, so what’s the answer? Isn’t that the million dollar question! It all starts when you refuse and reduce single use products.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchase you make by clicking these links will earn me a small commission but will not cost you anything extra. Please see my Disclosure page for more details.
Just Say No – Refuse and Reduce
Just because you can does it mean you should?
Refuse Plastic Bags
When I go grocery shopping, I always bring along my reusable produce and shopping bags. These are the bags I use. I’ve got them stashed in my car and I keep one in my purse that folds up super small. This is one easy step towards refusing plastic. Sure you have to buy the bags but seriously, they don’t cost much and you’ll use them all the time. Many stores will give you monetary credit for each bag you use. It’s not much but hey, money’s money mama! If you’re caught empty handed and forgot your reusable bags, use a plastic bag but be sure to recycle it right.
Many types of produce don’t need a bag, I promise. I share the info with you right here.
It’s pretty common knowledge these days how harmful plastic straws are to our environment and marine life, no? We’ve all seen the horrible pictures of the turtle with a straw being pulled out of his nose, right?
When you’re out to eat, just say no to the plastic straw! I’d venture to guess the majority of people don’t use a straw at home so why when you’re out at a restaurant? If you are taking your drink to go, keep a set of stainless steel straws in your purse or car.
I like these because they come in a variety of sizes and have a little travel pouch to keep in your purse or bag.
Not a fan of stainless steel? Keep a pack of paper straws to in the car.
They are so common now, you can even find them at the grocery store. You can also find paper straws with all sorts of designs on them so they’re perfect for your next party or event.
Let your server know when you are seated that you won’t need straws in your water glass, it’s so common that water glasses come to the table with straws already put in them.
If you’re dining at a fast food or other restaurant where disposable cups are offered, think twice before you put a plastic lid on top. Do you really need that plastic lid? If you’re refusing the straw, you won’t be using the the lid. Don’t forget the napkins. You just need one or two, unless you’re eating something messy! You can always get more but you can’t put the extras back. I think people frown upon that.
Keep some food storage containers in your car for those times you eat out and have leftovers. I’ve got all the tips you need for dining out waste free right here in this blog post.
Paper receipts are simply becoming a thing of the past. Everything is digital so opt for an emailed receipt whenever possible. Emailed receipts are also much easier to store. Just set up a folder in your email and store them there until you reconcile your credit card statement, if that’s something you do.
Catalogs and Junk Mail
Do you still get catalogs in the mail? I remember years ago when I was getting Pottery Barn catalogs, I think I got like 3 a month. It was insane the amount of money they must spend on catalogs and mailing them. I had to opt out, it gave me heart palpitations every time I opened my mailbox. I got it all taken care of through Catalog Choice. You can set up an account and say peace out bean sprout to all the junk mail and unwanted catalogs. I’m not sure you can opt out of all those political mailers, somehow I think we will just suffer through that unless you know a way to eliminate those. If you do, please share!
I’m happy to see that bulk buying is coming back into style. I remember buying in bulk as a kid when I shopped with my parents and now those bins are returning to the stores. I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Sprouts and can buy anything from rolled oats to nuts to rice to quinoa to dry beans to flour and sugar and beyond, in the bulk bins.
All those snack size packages and single serving packages of snacks, cookies, cheese, nuts, all of it, that’s all more waste. Buy a normal size package of pretzels and take the extra 1 minute to portion it out for your kids lunch. When my kids were much smaller and I had to send them to preschool with a snack or lunch, we used these Lunchskins reusable snack and sandwich bags. The velcro sealed really well, we never had trouble with it opening on accident. I am glad to see they have zipper bags now as the sandwich bread got a little stale but my kids didn’t care.
It really doesn’t have to take much time or effort to make reducing waste a part of your every day life. Just a little forethought and fairly soon, it becomes a habit. One last parting thought would be, when you see samples for products or flyers for different things available, if it’s not something of interest to you, don’t take it just because it’s free and you can. Make your choices count!
Ready to really simplify all of this? Grab my free printable with over 50 easy green swaps you can start making today!
I certainly don’t know it all and am always learning new tricks. Comment below with the small things you do to reduce waste in your daily life. We can all stand to have a few more tricks up our sleeves.
Make it a green day!