Transition your family to follow the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot
Ok, so maybe we won’t achieve “zero waste” but in an attempt to reduce waste and be more earth friendly I have listed some suggestions on the subject. Let’s say “Zero Waste Effort” okay?
Here’s how you can be the coolest mom on the block. Stay ahead of the mom curve with me & also, learn to save money for the important things in life, experiences with the ones you love. Remember, this is a transition, so you probably won’t do everything all at once, and neither have I. So if you see me using a paper towel, don’t judge me, and I’ll do the same for you!
- Reusable grocery bags are the in-thing, get some and keep them in the trunk of your car. Some stores will even give you points or money off your purchase for bringing your own bags. Win-win. Set your own personal ban on plastic bags. I like to collect them when I go out of town; I have Trader Joe bags from several different states that I have visited.
- If you can’t stop your plastic bag habit, at least reuse them in your trash cans. The less trash you create the less need you will have for plastic trash bags.
- Speaking of trash bags, if you are still producing trash for the landfill you could at least use biodegradable can liners. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
- Milk cartons are lined with plastic and can be used for wet and messy trash. Unless you’ve already made the milk bottle switch:
- Milk and other beverages can be purchased in glass bottles which can be returned for a deposit.
- Only buy what you can really eat at the grocery store, then make sure to eat all those leftovers; I often pack mine in my husbands lunch the next day. American families toss just under half of the food they buy, according to statistics. That’s too much waste.
- Watch portions on the kids plates. I try to start with an amount slightly less than I think they will eat. Then I will happily give them seconds. If they are full, at least I didn’t throw anything away. Use your judgment with your own kids, of course!
- Wash your dishes instead of buying disposables, especially styrofoam. If you absolutely must buy disposables, opt for plates that are compostable. Unless I have a huge crowd, I enjoy using our nice plates and cloth napkins. Washing them is usually at least a two person job, so I get one on one time with whoever volunteers to help me: BONUS! There is a point, say over 15 people when this is simply not feasible, in that instance:
- Serve finger foods, or use compostable plates and drinks in glass bottles which can be recycled, remember to clearly mark your recycling area so guests know where to put their recyclables.
- Get yourself a super trendy reusable water bottle and not only will you reduce waste, you’ll save money as well, we have a cabinet full but I like this one:
- If you really want to be super hip, stop buying disposable straws and start using Glass Straws, they are beautiful and you will be so trendy chic, see:
- Wash your kitchen towels, rags, and napkins instead of using paper towels
- When possible buy foods in bulk, split with a friend, store in mason jars or other containers like the ones I use:
- Stop using cling wrap by making your own beeswax sheets to cover food, or buy your own from Bees Wrap. I love the Bees Wrap, I got the 3 pack large years ago and it still works.
- Shop the farmers market so you won’t need all the packaging that comes on foods at the supermarket
- Wearing second-hand clothing solves two problems, it saves adding more bulk to the landfills and reduce your exposure to pesticides in fabrics. Cotton is the most sprayed crop in America (1)
- Donate your used clothing items to a rescue mission. Unless they are full of holes, in which case they make great rags for cleaning
- Try to wear clothing items more than once before washing to reduce water and detergent usage.
- Clean with non-toxic cleansers that are available in refillable bottles.
- Make your own beauty products and store in glass bottles, if you don’t care to make your own, buy from a company who does not practice greenwashing. When possible buy locally.
- At the office, take notes digitally, don’t print unless absolutely necessary and use email, text, etc. to reduce the consumption of paper
- Pack your children’s lunches as well as your own and your spouse! Get everyone involved, from selecting items to pack, prepping the food and packing it! My favorite zero waste lunchbox is the Planetbox although I do have others, I use the Rover and the Launch every single day! I truly enjoy packing these so much that I bought one for my husband and adult daughter. Yes, I even pack a lunch for my working 19-year-old!*
- Shop for food in jars, like pasta sauce, honey, peanut butter and others. Besides being recyclable, glass does not contain BPAs or leach metals into the food it contains like plastic and cans do.
- Start composting, it’s a great educational experience for children. My eight-year-old son loves to carry out the compost. This is the 4th “R” which is being taught in schools now.
- Get a rain barrel for watering your yard, flowers, and gardens, or make one of your own
- Cancel junk mail subscriptions, all the catalogs you throw away weekly, and start paying bills electronically
- Download music digitally instead of buying DVDs and CDs when possible, trust me, your kids are already doing this
- Offer unwanted items to other people who may need them through your local Freecycle group, or donate them to a charity
- Explore the many ways to save water. There are lots of simple ideas like turning off the water while you lather up in the shower, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, and installing efficient toilets.
Benefits of reducing waste
- You will save money
- Your family will be exposed to fewer toxins
- Less packaged goods equals more real food which in turn makes you healthier
- Your home will be more zen because clutter is not zen
- The less stuff you have the more time you have to enjoy life
- Your kids are being taught this stuff at school, so you will have something to talk about
- Preserving resources for the next generation
Focus on the things that you can change first and gradually add more zero waste habits to your current lifestyle. Remembering that you will face difficulties along the way anytime you make a change at home. Have a family meeting and ask your children for advice on reducing waste, many schools teach students and some even have zero waste lunchroom policies.
You might start by asking kids what they do with trash. Most will respond, “throw it away.” If they do, ask them where “away” is. This is a mind-blowing concept if you have never put much thought into where your own trash ends up.
Each day after school I ask my kids, “did you eat your lunch?” Mostly because I want to make sure they are eating well, but also because I really dislike throwing away food. I find it disturbing how much food gets thrown away at schools. To see for yourself, watch Parent’s video to see how much gets thrown away at one school. All the more reason to pack a lunch you know your children will really eat, even the picky ones.
Zero Waste Goals!!
Even though I know I will likely never be 100% Zero Waste, I do make an effort. I don’t obsess over it, but it does concern me. I try to educate my children so they can form habits now that will create less waste in the future. To read more check out this zero waste website.
For a laugh about a serious subject, you can watch Bag Ban Conspiracy. For further study read Plastic Purge and Zero Waste Home:
*Just so you know, I am not an affiliate or employee for Planetbox. I simply love their products and can’t keep myself from recommending them. Where there are links to products I use on Amazon, some are affiliate links, however, you will receive the same great price whether you use my links or not. If you do use my links, I will receive a very small commission from Amazon. I only link to products that I have purchased and personally use in my own home and with my own family. I will NEVER recommend a product that I have not previously used. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to sign up for updates! Right now!