Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Healthy Homemaking Series: Reduce Waste

Before I begin with my first baby step, I have say a huge thank you to Stephanie over at Keeper of the Home for telling the Facebook world about my blog series.  It was such an encouragement to see the jump in views and some new followers!  To any new readers: Don't be shy, I love reading comments.  So, here begins my journey.

Baby Step 1: Reduce Waste (Going Green/Sustainable Living)

Challenge: Find 3 ways to reduce waste produced.

Why: (In her book, Stephanie first explains why each particular step is important.)
Landfills are being filled up at an alarming rate.  Healthy Housekeeping states that "almost 100 landfills across the U.S. closed last year because they were crammed to the brim."  One hundred landfills in one year in just one country!   Not to mention the fact that our modern trash does not decompose quickly (or sometimes at all) and some is releasing toxic chemicals that come back to us through the soil and water.

How: Stephanie provided a list of 18 possible changes that a person could make along with online resources to research for even more.  Some we had done already, others we hadn't even thought of.  Here are our 3 waste reductions:

1. Paper Towel to Cloth Towels - We have always used cloth towels for hands and dishes, but still used paper towel for spills and things like that.  Now  we will be designating the more worn out towels and cloths specifically for spills/the floor/anything else we previously used paper towel for.
Paper towel roll we never refilled.  Now what will hide my laundry hook up?

2. Disposable to Reusable Cleaning Products - I have always loved the effortlessness of a Swiffer Sweeper or disposable dry dusting mitt, but I do not love the extra waste.  I have switched over to a washable and reusable Dry Mop and antibacterial Dusting Mitt from Norwex. (If you haven't checked out this company before, please do!  Their purpose is to be good to the environment while still cleaning effectively.)

 Dry Mop and Dusting Mitt by Norwex.

3. Keeping Glass Jars for Storage - Glass cannot be put into the recycling bin where I live, and because of this we had been throwing away the occasional emptied glass jar from jam, apple sauce, etc.  We now wash and save these jars to use to store dry goods that we've bought in bulk or in place of a tupperware-style container for leftovers.  I have even been bringing them home from my place of work.

Collecting jars.

One more change that I haven't made yet but am intrigued by is using cloth in place of toilet paper.  I think I could only handle this for #1 incidents, but I am sure even that would make a difference over time plus save money by buying toilet paper less frequently.

There you have it!  My first step down, only 25 more to go.  I will be posting again on Sunday with Baby Step 2: The Wonders of Vinegar.

For now, are there any changes you have made or would like to make in reducing waste?


  1. When camping I don't even use toilet paper. I just air dry and let my underwear do the rest. It kind of seems to be the point in underwear, but I alway seem to forget it when I get home. It's back to the toilet paper right away. I think it would be extremely difficult to use cloth for fecal matter, especially if someone isn't feeling very well. I could do it if I had to of course, but I don't feel like I have to yet.

    Our local recycling doesn't take all types of plastics, so I have to be aware of the types of plastics I buy so that I don't have to add too much to the landfill here. I was trying to save some of the plastic tubs for a while, but I just couldn't burden myself or my family with the excess stuff while we wait for the county to catch up. We just have to be aware of our purchases.

    Unfortunately with a gluten allergy I also cannot just purchase my flours and grains from the bulk bins at the store, and I don't know if Whole Foods Market allows customers to use their own containers to put the bulk food into anyway. I did see something about that new store In.gredients which allows customers to do just that. They weigh in their jars, fill them, and then weigh them again so they get the weight of the product minus the weight of the jar.

    A couple of years ago I stopped using my Swiffer. It was a waste of money, and a waste of paper goods. So, we switched back to the old broom and mop. Cloth rags are now used everywhere in our home too, but occasionally I do have a job only a paper towel is good for, so we do keep some around.

    Another good area to save waste in is in your food waste. If you have food waste, compost what you can instead of putting it into the waste bin. Meat and dairy can't go in, but all of your extra vegetable waste can. Tea bags, coffee, newspaper, grass clippings, etc. can all go into your compost. If you live in a city with curbside composting then definitely hop on that wagon. We just have a pile in our back yard.

  2. Wow, Amanda! Thanks for all those great thoughts and suggestions. I think that idea of taking in your own containers for bulk foods is brilliant. I hope it catches on.

  3. If you get to many glass jars in your collection you can recycle them at the bottle return depot behind CNB. I save mine and take them in when we return bottles.
    - kaylan

  4. Thanks for the tip Kaylan! Good to know.

  5. I wonder about that cloth for toilet paper idea. If you're washing them in a washing machine, wouldn't that just waste energy? And if you weren't washing them in a wash machine... eeee-yuck.

    1. I wash them with a load I will be doing already, so the energy is being used regardless of them being there. Usually they are thrown in with the towels.