Cutting waste with a family of four does take some effort. But if you are diligent and really set an example, after a while it just feels like any other day.
Over the years we have adopted greener ways without even really feeling the pain. Nowadays it's normal to have containers brought for leftovers when we go out to dinner, or bring our own water in a glass jar and cloth napkins when we are out on a Sunday. It takes a little bit of planning but just like have the grocery bags with you every time you go shopping, it just becomes a habit and part of the outing.
Here are some ways we (without even thinking about it) prevent waste:
- Bring your own containers and thermal mug(s) to coffee shops, also small cloth bags work here too for muffins or sandwiches.
- Bring your own containers to restaurants - if you know others are going with you, bring for them too. If you plan buy take out, bring a container then as well, I have only been turned away once, and it was because my container was plastic and the owner was afraid the food was too hot and would melt it.
- Bring handkerchiefs in the car for spills and blowing noses and everything else that happens with kids.
- Have a few totes for groceries handy and cloth bags for bulk bins for grains, mushrooms, even flours. I also bring a large mason jar in case we need liquid items from bulk.
- Purchase at second hand stores first for items you NEED. For items you don't need, don't buy them! Except for good soccer, running shoes which need plenty of support, and of course underwear :)
- Use real plates when friends come over, it's not that much effort to wash - if LOTS of people come over make sure plates are of biodegradable paper. Glass mason jars are nice for drinking, and they are virtually unbreakable. Silverware can be purchased at the thrift store for parties.
- Use the most minimal amount of makeup. I make my own moisturizer and otherwise use organic oils, homemade lipbalm and a bit of natural makeup (ZUZU brand) and some eyeliner which I compost the shavings. Less is more. Makes life easier and simpler.
- Don't fall for the "must haves" for everything. Clothing, bags and shoes really do last a long time. I try to use what I have, I have better things to spend my money on. Even going thrift shopping too often has its limits.
- Use cloth napkins, microfiber cloths for cleaning, and small older handtowels for cleaning the bathroom. Toss in the wash and use over and over.
- Use baking powder for cleaning the tub and sinks. Also makes a great tooth cleaner/whitener.
- Buy all you can in bulk. We buy spices, grains, pasta, olive oil, honey and maple syrup this way.
- No processed boxed or packaged foods mean cleaner eating and no excess trash.
- Use your dollar as your vote. Does this store cater to those willing to be more green and waste-free? If it doesn't care then go elsewhere and write a nice letter letting them know that as soon as they adopt greener ways you will have to look elsewhere for your needs. I have done it twice and both times I had no response, which answered my question.
- Be bold and not bashful about being waste conscious. When I first started out years ago, I was so shy about it. But now I don't mind asking to use my containers anywhere I go. I may get weird looks but really, who cares? I would rather care about what I believe in than care about what someone thinks about me. And when they are more than happy to use my containers I am overjoyed and always return there with more business for them. Win-win.