In honor of Earth Day, here are a few ways I try to lessen my impact on the environment.
1. I choose to buy some of my son’s clothes used.
We have enough money that we could handle the expenses of buying our son’s clothes all new (with some bought at Target). But come on, he is a boy and he is going to tear up his clothes. Might as well let him destroy a $3 consignment shirt as opposed to a $15 brand new shirt, which will just frustrate me. There are many good consignment stores and locally-run consignment sales in our area, why not make use of them? And, hey, I am supporting my local small businesses in the process. I have found clothes with the tags still on them at these stores, as well. And if I am careful about washing out stains promptly, some of these clothes actually make it back to the consignment store for another go-round!
2. Same goes for toys.
See above, but just apply it to toys. My son’s favorite toy so far from Christmas was bought at a consignment store, still in the box, and for less than half the price I would have paid at Toys R Us. I also buy from other moms (via online mommy groups), which helps them clean out while putting a few extra bucks in their pockets.
3. Love my reusable bags.
I have gotten to the point where I cringe if I get to the mall and realize I have no reusable bags. To me, this one is a no-brainer. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store, mall or wherever else you go, and you have one less item to bring home that is going to either clutter up your house or just get thrown in the trash. I will often have clerks add my items to an existing bag, as well (sometimes they give me an odd look, but I don’t mind too much). I feel so much better when I get home and put everything away and don’t have a bunch of paper and plastic shopping bags all over the kitchen. For those that do accumulate, I try to reuse them or recycle them when I can.
TIP: A fun use for brown paper shopping bags (at least for younger kids) – I cut open the bag so that it lays flat, tape it to the kitchen floor and give my son some crayons. This usually keeps him occupied long enough for me to get groceries put away. Just beware, they may color off the paper a bit, so have the Magic Eraser ready.
4. I recycle.
Our city recycling program constantly sends us flyers about the fact that people don’t put all the things that are recyclable into the recycling bin. So, I try to at least glance at these mailings (also recyclable) and make sure I am not guilty. Check your local recycling program to see what can be recycled. Ours, as an example, will recycle most paper products, including paper plates (yes, I have used paper plates on occasion – don’t judge!). I also try to bring home the plastic trays from microwave lunches I eat at work, as our office doesn’t recycle those, but our city program does. Mind you, I don’t always remember, but I manage it at least 50% of the time.
I also recycle our used batteries. Our local Best Buy has a battery recycling bin in their entrance. I keep out used batteries in a jar on the mantle, and probably manage to remember to return them to the store twice a year. This also keeps them out of reach of my toddler, which ensures he stays safe and away from any stray batteries.
5. I regift and love hand-me-downs.
I’d actually love to admit to doing this more than I do, but I feel like this is ok with some people, but others would find it in bad taste. But if the item still has the tags on it and/or has not been used, I have no problem with it. And, depending on the person, many folks don’t mind getting a recycled gift. This one is especially useful when you have family members who are pregnant or welcoming a new baby. I only bought a handful of maternity clothes during my pregnancy. I borrowed some from a coworker, returning them after my pregnancy (luckily, we were close to the same size), and others were given to me by fellow mommies. I have sent baby clothes on to a cousin with a small child, being sure to include a few new items, too. For some outfits, I was even able to coordinate the hand-me-downs with new store-bought items.
6. Energy Efficiency
We participate in our electric company’s energy efficiency program (or at least we did before we had a baby!). Our community’s program (http://bgesavings.com/) runs energy savings days where avoiding things like running your washer and dryer prior to 7 p.m. will earn you a credit toward your next bill. We get automated calls just before these energy saving days and can usually adjust our schedule accordingly. Check your local energy provider to see if they have these types of programs. You can also participate in programs that allow you to do energy audits and other types of money-saving measures.
I don’t drive a giant SUV, but I also didn’t go for the hybrid this time around, and while I live in a house that is larger than necessary for our family, I feel like I make up for it in other ways. I am cognizant of my consumption and try not to be wasteful when possible.
What little things do you do to conserve or reduce waste in your home?
This post is linked up at Welcome Home Wednesdays.