Happy Earth Day! Hopefully you’ve been able to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature this weekend. The hubs has unfortunately been cooped up in the library studying for finals, but I’ve spent the entire weekend working in the garden and entertaining the dogs with long walks. I’m ready for his exams to be over so we can finally do some fun, outdoorsy stuff together!
In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the ways we already reduce, reuse, and recycle around our house. More importantly, though, I think it’s important to reTHINK some areas where we could be doing a better job of conserving natural resources in order to be better stewards of God’s creation.
- Homemade Cleaning Supplies – My Earth Day resolution last year was to replace the chemical-filled commercial cleaning products around our house with homemade alternatives that are more environmentally-friendly. Since then, I’ve been making my own natural cleaning products and laundry detergent with excellent results. It’s incredibly easy and saves so much money that I’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff.
- Homemade Toothpaste – After reading about all the toxins contained in conventional toothpaste, I decide to start making my own natural toothpaste. Whenever we run out, it takes less than 2 minutes to make a new batch. And since we keep it in recycled jars, we’re no longer throwing empty tubes of toothpaste into the landfill every few weeks.
- Natural Gardening – We try to further reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals by opting for organic remedies to whatever ails our garden rather than buying something nasty from the home improvement store that could be toxic to children or pets.
- Compost – Since building a simple compost bin in our backyard for kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and leaves, we have noticed a significant reduction in the amount of trash we take to the curb. As an added bonus, whatever the squirrels don’t eat turns into free, organic fertilizer for our garden.
- Shop Local – We buy almost all of our produce and meat from Natural Farms or the farmers’ market. This reduces the environmental impact of shipping food long distances and also keeps money in the local economy.
- CFLs – We are gradually replacing all of our light bulbs with CFLs, which use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- Mail – We’ve significantly reduced the amount of mail we receive by signing up for online bill pay and using Catalog Choice to opt-out of junk mail.
- Shopping Bags – Plastic bags are my biggest pet peeve, so I keep several reusable shopping bags in my car and also have a more compact one that’s always in my purse for trips to the store. Seems like such a no-brainer, yet it kills me how many people I still see leaving the grocery store with a zillion plastic bags.
- Steam Mop – We replaced our Swiffer with a steam mop that has reusable cloth pads and sanitizes the floors without any chemicals – just water!
- Dryer Balls – Instead of using dryer sheets that are full of chemicals and have to be thrown away, we switched to reusable dryer balls. These things are great! I put a few drops of essential oil on an old sock, stuff a dryer ball inside, toss into the dryer and viola – clothes come out smelling fresh and truly clean.
- Reusable Coffee Filter – We invested in a mesh coffee filter that we can reuse over and over, instead of throwing away a paper filter each time we brew a pot of coffee.
- Cloth Napkins – We’ve recently gotten into the habit of using cloth dinner napkins instead of paper ones and reuse them several times before washing them. I even pack them in our lunch boxes.
- Rechargeable Batteries – As our old batteries died, we recycled them and invested in rechargeable ones that can be reused numerous times.
- Books – Before we buy a new book, we first check to see if we can get it from the library or through Paperback Swap. Sometimes I wonder how Barnes & Noble stays in business.
- Containers – I’m able to reuse a lot of food containers that would otherwise go in the recycling bin or trash. Egg cartons, glass jars, tin cans, cereal boxes, and toilet paper rolls are perfect for organizing on a budget.
- The MET – Since we live in a rural area that doesn’t offer curbside recycling, we take all of our recyclables to The MET. They are pretty limited in what they will take, but it’s better than nothing. A couple times a year they have a collection event where you can safely dispose of household pollutants like pool chemicals and expired prescription medications.
- Ink Cartridges – We save these and drop them off at Best Buy or Staples for recycling.
- Paper Towels – One of my Earth Day resolutions this year is to completely do away with paper towels. We mostly use them for cleaning, so I should be able to switch to reusable cloths without much extra hassle.
- Transportation – This is a biggie for us since, combined, we commute 650 miles per week between home and work/school! We try to carpool whenever we can, but our ultimate goal is to be a one-car family and live in a walkable community where we can bike almost anywhere we need to go. That will require A LOT of lifestyle changes on our part, but it is something we are working towards.
- Beef Consumption – I recently listened to a great podcast on water conservation and learned that 70-90% of our drinkable water is used for agricultural purposes. Did you know that is takes 1,800 gallons of water to put 1 pound of beef on your table? In fact, reducing beef consumption is one of the primary things we can do to have the greatest impact on water conservation. I think I could easily become a vegetarian, but it’ll be almost impossible to convince my carnivore-loving husband to get on board with me. In the meantime, we can definitely eat less beef!
Now it’s your turn! I want to hear about your Earth Day resolutions.