Saturday, April 5, 2014

Conscience buying.

I talk a lot about my enthusiasm for reusing everyday items to keep things out of the landfills but, most importantly, it also helps keep my carbon-footprint conscience from eroding. These past few years I've concentrated on removing more items from our household to create a more harmonious livelihood for my family. It sounds so simple but it isn't always easy and I'm so envious of those folks who really put themselves to the test - like the little New York family in the documentary No Impact Man who lived off the grid for a year. This movie inspired me a few years ago because I don't have the balls to do it. Not even close. I daydream about it but don't think I could pull it off. I don't even drive an electric car - or even a Hybrid for that matter. In fact, I recently sold my 14-year-old Subaru Outback with 160,000+ miles for a friend's Jeep Cherokee because it only had 40,000 miles. I went from a 4-cylinder to a V-6 and, quite honestly, I'm ashamed by it. But I couldn't walk away from a car that wasn't dripping oil all over town and smoking after I went on long trips.

Conscience buying to eliminate waste is always in the back of my mind and while I'm not perfect, I'm working on it and with a family of four - that's all I can hope for.

I've put together a little list of my 'waste-not, want-not' accomplishments: 
(Don't roll your eyes, you knew this was coming.)


First item to tackle was those really handy, easy-to-use plastic baggies we call Ziploc. They are great for marinating vegetables or meat, perfect for throwing a few snacks in for kids and great for packing up leftovers from dinner. Once I finally pulled my head out of the sand and realized what they were, and how many I was using, I was embarrassed - and appalled - and decided I would no longer be associated with them. After year two of the boycott, I've never looked back.

ALTERNATIVE TO THE PLASTIC BAGGIES: We reuse all our containers that sour cream, cottage cheese and yogurt come in. We particularly love reusing glass containers and fill these up with snacks for the kids or leftovers. We don't buy any new Tupperware containers, just use what we already have. It's been an easy transition and very rewarding!


They are just so damn handy. I love soaking up everything with these squares of paper. I mean, how do you soak up all the bacon grease without these little guys? (We eat BLT's regularly). Paper towels are a tug-of-war thing for my husband and I: He wants them. I don't.

When I finally eliminate them for months at a time, he talks me into buying them again for a month until I get the environmental guilt-ies and refuse to buy any. I hate paying for paper products you don't need (now toilet paper is not one of them) and paper towels are expensive!

ALTERNATIVE TO THE PAPER TOWEL:  We have a basket of old rags and towels we use for wiping up just about anything. We don't typically wash these right away unless they get down right dirty. I haven't figured out the soaking up of bacon grease yet so I just lay them out on a plate. I might start laying it on towels, but I haven't tried it yet.


Second hand and consignment stores are my friends. Like, my really good friends. I've always had a knack for busting through a used store and coming out with some pretty solid shit. Macklemore has nothing on me - I'm the queen of the thrift stores.

ALTERNATIVE TO RETAIL: Check out thrift stores or children's consignment shops for all those little things kids need gear for: soccer shoes, shorts, shin guards, baseballs, basketballs and so much more.  There are also organized clothing swaps in various communities where folks take kids clothes and gear to swap for other things they need - all for free. Take advantage of not buying (new) retail!


I don't know how a company in today's times can continue getting away with buying Dixie cups for available "pure" water and endless amounts of plastic utensils and paper plates - but many of them do. This is ridiculous to me and once I went back to work part-time for a large corporation last year - they had no idea what was coming. I couldn't believe the waste and almost immediately started spouting off my nonsense. Well - my rants worked because they no longer are stocking huge boxes of Dixie cups (which from a storage standpoint is also ridiculous) or boxes of plastic spoons, forks and knives. You're welcome environment.

  • Swiffer (thanks to my husband's sister laughing at me that I don't do paper towels but bust out a Swiffer.) Touche' my friend. (In all honesty, I can't stand those either.)
  • Sponges. My husband loves these and color coordinates one for dishes and one for counters. We did start buying recycled material sponges, but it still feels dirty.

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