Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Easy Swaps Towards a Sustainable Household

So I gave up Facebook but have been going full steam ahead on Instagram. Recently I posted the photo of our 2 month trash tally in a 16oz mason jar and the comments were all really encouraging. One of my friends said 'teach me your ways' which inspired this post. I've come up with a list of easy swaps, all of which are simple and will help not only save the environment but also save you money. 

My husband and I have been striving towards a more simplified household focusing on reducing our garbage and carbon footprint for about 18 months. We still have a long way to go. Living with these changes every day it feels like we haven't made much progress at all, it's been a slow gradual change through every step but reading this list makes me see how far we've come. These are the swaps we've made.

Kitchen Swaps
Swap paper towels for dishcloths 
Swap plastic and paper grocery bags for reusable tote bags
Swap paper napkins for cloth napkins 
Swap plastic kitchen tools for bamboo and stainless steel
Swap plastic Tupperware for glass hermetic jars
Swap plastic produce and bulk bags for reusable mesh and cloth bags
Swap plastic baggies for jars and reusable snack bags like lunchskins (also if you are storing food in the refrigerator a deep bowl with a saucer on top works great too!)
Swap nonstick cookware for stainless steel or cast iron
Swap nonstick cookie sheets for metal (stop relying on tinfoil and just clean them =) 
Swap beer bottles and cans for refillable growlers
Swap wine bottles for pop top lemonade bottles to be refilled at a winery
Swap plastic cling wrap and wax paper for abeego
Swap plastic cutting boards for a wood fiber cutting board
Swap disposable plastic water bottles for a reusable stainless steel ones
Swap disposable coffee cups for a stainless steel thermos
Swap disposable skewers and toothpicks for stainless steel reusable ones
Swap to go plastic utensils for bamboo utensils 
Swap plastic straws for stainless steel ones
Swap disposable cups for reusable stainless steel tumblers
Swap cooking oil spray for a Silpat or just a bit of oil
Swap coffee maker for a stovetop espresso maker
In general swap plastics for ceramic, glass and stainless steel options
Additional ideas: Get rid of multiples in the kitchen (ie: mixing bowls, cheese knives, bottle stoppers, the list goes on and on!), try to eat your food before it goes bad, learn to love leftovers, keep your fridge stocked (I put a few glass bottles filled with water in there at all times, it saves energy), replace incandescent bulbs with LED’s

Bathroom Swaps
Swap plastic wrapped toilet paper for individually wrapped recycled toilet paper
Swap disposable razors or cartridges for a safety razor
Swap store bought toothpaste and deodorant for homemade versions
Swap shampoo, body wash, body lotion and conditioner in a plastic bottle from the store for bulk shampoo in a glass pump bottle that can be refilled
Swap lip gloss and lip balm for homemade lip balm
Swap store bought facial toner for apple cider vinegar
Swap body lotion for body oil available in bulk, I like using almond oil for the scent
Swap your toothbrush for a bamboo or recycled from yogurt container one
Swap facial tissue for toilet paper or better yet a reusable handkerchief
Swap disposable menstrual products with reusables (do your research, they are out there =)
Additional ideas: Collect toilet paper rolls for another use (I use them to stuff dryer lint in to use as campfire starter), if it’s yellow let it mellow (gross I know!), turn off the water when you brush your teeth, take shorter showers, place a full water bottle or brick in your toilet tank to save on water, install an aerator in your faucets, choose energy efficient appliances like Energy Star

Cleaning Swaps
Swap Windex for a microfiber rag
Swap Ajax and Soft Scrub for tea tree oil and baking soda
Swap all purpose cleaner for vinegar and water in a spray bottle
Swap store bought toxic laundry detergent for homemade or nontoxic in cardboard box
Swap store bought toxic dishwasher detergent for non toxic in a cardboard box
Swap dish soap for liquid castile soap or bulk all purpose soap
Swap kitchen sponge for compostable natural fiber scrubber and steel wool 
Swap air fresheners with incense or small bowl of vinegar (my husband hates the vinegar but it really works!)
Swap mothballs for sachets of dried lavender
Swap Swiffer disposable pads for cloth rags
Swap sticker lables for reused paper and rubber bands
Additional ideas: Compost vacuum cleaner dust, reuse dryer lint as campfire starter or just compost it, soak orange peels in white vinegar to make orange scented all-purpose cleaner, reuse ‘grey’ water for watering plants, compost hair from brushes, stop using dryer sheets, wash full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine, hang dry your laundry, add fresh air to your home by opening some windows and having house plants

Transportation Swaps
Swap driving everywhere for carpooling, riding the bus or ferry, riding your bike or walking
Additional ideas: Start a ride share program at your work

{View from my commute home on the ferry to Sausalito, sure beats traffic}

Entertainment Swaps
Swap cable and dvd’s for an Apple TV or Roku with Netflix and Hulu+
Swap dvd’s and cd’s for downloadable digital versions
Swap paper books and magazines for digital versions for your tablet
Swap hard copies for digital versions by going 'paperless' 
Swap printed hard copy boarding pass, event and movie tickets for smartphone digital version for iPhone use Passbook
Swap regular batteries for rechargeable ones
Additional ideas: Spend more time at the library they have tons of books, free wifi and movies

Swaps we still want to make
Swap our collection of pens and pencils for refillable versions
Swap disposable lighter with refillable one
Swap disposable plate with reusable version (at my work)

We started by evaluating what things we actually use, then analyzed what objects can do double or triple duty. By purging what we do is evaluate the item to see what condition it is in. If it’s still full of life we first try to think of a friend who might want it, once we’ve asked around and no one is interested we’ll donate it to Goodwill. This goes for clothing too, for example we went on our honeymoon to Europe for two weeks and each only brought a regular backpack worth of clothing but we never felt like we needed more. When we got back purging clothing and shoes from our wardrobe came easy. But I'm convinced that purging, evaluating and organizing is a lifelong process.

Take action
Start collecting compostable kitchen waste, buy a compost keeper (we got ours at Ross for next to nothing)
Request a green waste compost bin from your local refuse
Start composting at home with a tumbling composter
Refuse plastic and paper bags at grocery store
Refuse plastic packaging at the grocery store
Refuse produce and bulk bags at the grocery store
Start upcycling - start to think of things you’d typically discard in a new way and put it to good use!

My Facebook Hiatus Explained

A few weeks ago I found myself at home refreshing Facebook again and again for no good reason. This was after clocking a full eight hours at work, most of which is time spent in front of the computer not to mention the list of household todo's I was procrastinating on. That night I decided to deactivate my Facebook temporarily and start being more productive during my downtime. 

It's been about five weeks since that night and I still don't want to go back on Facebook. I find it refreshing to be off of it and not only have I been more productive but I also get the opportunity to really connect with friends and family by spending time with them or calling to chat. I finally have time for the projects I've been meaning to get to. For once news is still news and not something I read online and pretend to act like I haven't! At first I felt disconnected but now I realize that Facebook stressed me out without really connecting me to the people I'm truly invested in. Now I'm not convinced that this hiatus is temporary, it might have sticking power but time will tell.

If you need more reasons to deactivate your account here are 15 compelling reasons I found yesterday: http://lifestyle.allwomenstalk.com/excellent-reasons-to-quit-facebook

Friday, October 4, 2013

Trash Tally: 8/3 - 10/3

Since getting rid of our trash can after the last trash tally posts we have been collecting the little garbage we produce in this 16oz mason jar.

{2 Months worth of household trash}