I’ll admit it, my lifestyle now is not what it used to be. Reducing waste was not a priority for me, even ten years ago. It’s not that I didn’t care; it just wasn’t something that I thought much about or proactively worked to change. Once I began my yoga practice, I started becoming more conscious, more aware, of not just myself and my space, but of my surrounding and how everything interconnects and works together. Through yoga, fitness, and mindful eating with paleo, I feel that I have become more conscious and more educated with regard to our environment and how the changes we make can make a difference. That said, I still have a long way to go, and am always learning and evolving!
Being waste-conscious has made a difference for our family, financially and emotionally. It reduces the amount of clutter and trash in our household, and the amount of money that we spend annually. It’s a process, and takes time and commitment, by the whole family. But, as with most lifestyle changes, once you get the hang of it, it can actually add simplicity, efficiency, and dollars to your life! Not to mention the reduction in your carbon footprint.
8 Ways That We Reduce Waste and Save Money
As I said, reducing waste in our household has been a process, and one that is ongoing and ever-changing. We have a way to go, and with children we find that it can be challenging especially when our friends and family sometimes tend to give gifts that may not be so eco-friendly or aligned with our preferences. And that’s okay; we try to keep realistic expectations and can work around this. Which brings me to an important point: rigidity can work against you. As with any major changes, you want to have a little flexibility. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you find it hard to live without paper towels, start small. Maybe use less paper towels before you progress to eliminating them altogether! Another thing to note: while some of these replacements seem costly up front, in the long-term you’ll be saving money, especially if you’re a person who uses disposable items liberally. Our reusable items have lasted us years and are still going strong! In writing this post, I had a hard time keeping it to 8, as there are endless ways that we try to conserve on a daily basis, including with our food, cleaning products, and overall lifestyle of reusing and repurposing. For the purposes of getting your started – or maybe a little inspired – though, here are 8 ways that our family reduces waste, and actually saves money, in our house:
- Napkins. Napkins are a necessity for us. We are messy as a family, and it drives me nuts when my kids wipe their mouths on their sleeves! We use reusable napkins like these, and honestly have never looked back.
- Baggies. I can’t say that we have eliminated disposable baggies completely in our house, but we have reduced the amount we use significantly. These reusable sandwich bags have been a huge help, and our kids love the fun patterns!
- Rags. This is a big one. We use rags in leiu of papertowels and wipes, and we use them constantly. In a house with pets and small children, we have to. I can’t even imagine the amount of waste we would go through and full we would make that landfill if we did not use reusable cloths for this. We use a combination of old t-shirt scraps and reusable rags like these for our needs. As a bonus, using and folding rags is an easy and calming chore for 3- and 5-year-olds!
- Reusable Sponges. Ok, there is a time for disposable sponges, like when cleaning grease, or poop (hypothetically of course), but most times reusable sponges work awesome. We use one for our dishes and another for the dirtier jobs, like cleaning of counters, ovens, and stoves.
- Tampons/Pads. There are numerous health and environmental reasons that you should consider replacing your pads and tampons with reusable products, or at the very least, good quality organic products. Not only do most tampons and pads contain plastic, which can cause health issues, and we know takes a looooong time to break down, but they also contain all sorts of chemicals that have not been studied completely for their effect on the environment. Additionally, this study found that 85% of tampons were contaminated with glyphosate (an herbicide linked to cancer). I recommend a menstrual cup such as this one, instead of tampons. There are cloth pads that you can try, disposable organic pads or panty liners as a healthier and more eco-friendly alternative.
- Diapers and Wipes. Yes, we are on the cloth diaper train! We used them for both kids, and while it required diligent washing, ultimately using cloth diapers minimized our environmental waste considerably. It also significantly reduced our financial costs of having little ones. Since our babies were little, there have been more wonderful brands on the market, but we definitely have to recommend Fuzzies Bunz, as they worked great for us, and were adorable too! We also used Fuzzies Bunz wipes for our babies, as they were super soft, and with a little water, worked just as well as disposable wipes, without all the chemicals!
- Reusable Water Bottles. We haven’t used plastic water bottles in years, for both health and environmental reasons, that I’ve mentioned above. And the transition was actually really easy! You get used to carrying your water bottle everywhere you go, which is a good habit anyway, given how important it is to drink enough water. We love Klean Kanteen and Life Factory bottles, although for kids, I’d recommend the former, as we learned the hard way that silicone sleeves do not protect from kids throwing water bottles like they’re balls! Here are some that we love:
8. Toys and Dress-up. I couldn’t complete my reducing waste post without addressing all of the waste that is involved in having kids! You parents know what I’m talking about. This will be on a later blog post in more detail, but I wanted to mention one of our favorite ways to conserve. Reusing old boxes and bags as toys, cars, trains, rocket ships, robot costumes, picture frames, sleds, doll house, astronaut gear, the list goes on. So much cheaper than buying new toys! Before you throw those boxes and bags out, consider repurposing – the kids will be thrilled and their imaginations will run wild (great for you, and developmentally stimulating for them)!
I hope these 8 Ways That We Reduce Waste and Save Money inspire you or help you start the process of being more conscious. We are still working on ways that our family can reduce waste, and as I said it is an ever-evolving process! In what ways does your family like to conserve?