I admit it. I am an Earth nut. Have been since the 90′s when Earth Day made it’s big comeback. Ventura used to hold annual Earth Day fair’s at the beach where you could learn about Ventura County’s new recycling program, water treatment programs and all sorts of neat new techologies. Vendors sold reusable bags, and you could get free reusable water bottles!
You want to know how serious my family was? We went to an Eco Expo in LA and somewhere at home, I have a reusable tote signed by the voice cast of Captain Planet. (Yes, people told me I was lame for it, especially back then- but I knew I was cool)
When my parents bought our house (we’d rented prior to that), a portion of the backyard was set aside for a vegetable garden, complete with a compost pile. And our recycling bin was always larger than our trash bin.
I admit, that from college onward, I fell into a bit of a disposable lifestyle. But, I’m making a change. Most people set their resolutions at New Years, I set environmental resolutions every Earth Day. This year, I plan on starting my own organic container garden here at my in-laws, as well as making a shift away from using disposable containers. Especially when dining out.
Here are some easy ways to make your life a little greener (and no, I’m not sponsored by Delight.com at all, but they have a lot of eco-friendly products):
- Bring reusable shopping bags. Reusable shopping bags are readily available these days. I have ones that I use specifically for groceries that are made of a heavy duty canvas (that I got through Fresh & Easy) and some lightweight ones that I use everywhere else. While it’s a bit of an investment, it’s amazing how many plastic bags we used to use in a week. Stylish shopping bags from Delight.com (At your grocery store/specialty store, look for hot/cold shopping bags to help keep your frozen items cool. I’ve also seen special bags meant for transporting wine bottles!)
- Stop buying individual plastic bottles and use a stainless steel bottle. While the little bottles are recyclable, most wind up in the trash and require a lot of resources to make. Stainless steel bottles are durable, and easy to clean. While most sell tablets that can be used to clean them, I use a simpler method: baking soda and vinegar. Just put some baking soda inside, add the vinegar… and VOLCANO! I cap it, shake it to let the bubbles work and rinse. If you’re worried about vinegary tastes, the process of mixing the baking soda and vinegar neutralizes the bite of the vinegar, so a quick rinse gets rid of any trace. I use mine constantly, as does TheBoy. We have kid sized bottles, and if they wouldn’t fight over who gets which one, we’d be using those more often for them! (Note: Everyone sells stainless steel water bottles now, as well as plastic bottles. Just make sure that both say they’re BPA free. New Sigg bottles are BPA free, and most new hard plastic bottles are BPA free as well- but if your bottle says it was made in China, odds are that it isn’t)
- Ditch the paper cups! One of the easiest ways most of us can help the environment is by bringing your own cup to Starbucks (or other cafes). Most of them will even give you a discount for using your own cup. I use “I’m Not a Paper Cup” which is an insulated porcelain cup that looks like a paper cup. The only downside? It does look like a paper cup. I’ve known people whose spouse accidentally threw it out, and well, TheBoy lost his when an overzealous cleaning person at work thought it was one as well. I even have a cup for cold beverages that I got from Target, with its own plastic straw!
- Use reusable cutlery and fabric napkins. So far, most of my suggestions have seemed pretty normal, right? Well, think about how many plastic forks and paper napkins you’ve thrown out with your fast food lunches. A lot, right? While I haven’t started doing this yet, I plan on doing it this year. Sets I have my eye on- full-sized bamboo silverware, a set with chopsticks and without. I own a set of chopsticks that I use instead of the disposable ones already, but having the full set of utensils seems like a great idea to me. Also neat, are these stainless steel and bamboo sporks. Extremely portable, my best friend Jerad has been wanteing them- since he’s always on the go and doesn’t exactly have a purse to carry around a full set of cutlery. I’m looking at the double ended fork and spoon for the kidlets. (Also at that last link, they have fabric lunchbags and napkins in fashionable colors – here’s a set of plain colored cotton ones.)
- Buy organic and local produce. It’s easier than ever to buy organic produce. And as more and more consumers push for organic goods, the prices have been coming down, too! Not only that, but it’s also easier to buy locally grown produce. Between farmer’s markets, and simply by knowing what produce is in season, you can buy less-expensive produce that doesn’t have as much of an environmental impact.
- Ditch the dryer sheets. While we stopped using them because of my son’s allergies, dryer sheets create a lot of waste when you start to think about it. We use reusable dryer balls, that last for years. You can also find some made from wool.
Some other great links- Stainless steel lunchboxes (a bit on the small side, great for kids), which are extremely durable, easy to clean and free from lead and BPA. A fabulous lunch box from OOTS which is stylish and great for everyone. And stainless steel straws.
Wow. This post got a lot longer than I originally meant, but lots of great resources! Honestly, there are some cool products out there that can easily replace disposable items. They’re a bit of an investment, but when you look at how much waste you won’t be producing, it’s easily worth it. Expect a lot of posts from me on my progress with my 2010 Earth Day Resolutions!