In November of 2019, my department at work hosted an event with the theme of Sustainability around the World. The planning process helped me to learn about a lot ways to improve my practices at home (or at work, but I have been working from home most of the year and barely used any paper!) to reduce waste and be more sustainable. My New Year’s Resolution for 2020 was to be more sustainable at home. Here are a few things that we did in our house this past year:
Pick one, pick a few or pick all! Anything you can do to help the earth is helpful.
- Microfiber towels or Swedish Dish Cloths instead of paper towels
- I use these for everything! Wiping up spills, cleaning the bathroom, dog paws, cleaning up saw dust – you name it! Then I just throw them in the wash and they’re good as new. Of course, there are times I still use paper towels – for particularly gross or messy messes, but the awareness piece is huge. Once I started realizing how much I used paper towels, I consciously stopped using them as often and thus saved on waste
- Cloth Napkins instead of paper napkins
- I have almost completely eliminated the use of paper napkins. Keep enough of these handy and it’s easy to adjust to using these all the time. Plus you can purchase them in nice seasonal patterns or colors and they’ll dress up your table or your decor
- Wax coverings instead of foil, plastic wrap, etc.
- I purchased mine from Trader Joe’s, but this link is very similar. I also purchased them in wax bag form. These take a bit of getting used to, but radically decrease your waste
- Reusable ziplock bags instead of disposable ziplocks- many even can go in the dishwasher!
- Real silverware and glasses instead of disposable cups and paper plates
- Make a conscious effort to get recyclables into the recycling bin
- Unplug electronics not in use (i.e. toaster ovens, cell phone chargers)
- Bar soap (and shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant) with minimal packaging- full disclosure I have only used the bar soap. My husband was better about using the bar shampoo and conditioner. I have found these at Whole Foods- I like purchasing these there because there is minimal packaging used
- Eat less red meat – I’m not here to preach being a vegetarian or vegan – I am mostly a pescatarian, but on occasion I will eat some lean red meat. Now that I am aware of not only the harm to animals that eating red meat causes, but also the serious environmental harm because of all of the resources used and harmful gasses created, I think twice before I purchase red meat. Again awareness is key- you can read more about it here.
- Repurpose items that can’t be recycled- i.e. clothes with holes- cut up and use as rags, padding for breakable goods, find craft projects for these etc. This includes furniture too! You can cut wood to use for shelves or just refinish the surface. It is amazing how some sanding and a fresh coat of paint can breath new life into an old piece
- Purchase food, fruits and veggies from Misfit Market or places like this. We just started purchasing and almost all of our fruits or veggies have looked the same as the ones purchased in the store. Read more about how purchasing from here helps with sustainability.
My sustainability goals for 2021 (and 4 more bonus ideas for you):
- Purchase a compost bin!
- Purchase products with less or sustainable packaging (i.e. continue use of Misfit Markets, instead of buying packaged fruits and veggies in stores)
- Wash synthetic clothing in mesh bags
- Purchase more local goods (this will save some on resources used to transport, pack and ship them)