I have to admit before I start this three part blog on RRR that I am not an expert. As a matter of fact, I'm quite the newbie. I won't be a hypocrite enough to pretend like I've been doing this forever and telling you just how awesome that I am. It's not like that. I'm rather new to this aspect. It is one of those changes that I have wanted to make in my life but just 'didn't get around to'. That's embarrassing. But I know it's common. So maybe this will help out to motivate some others on making those changes as well.
So, we all know what those magical 3R's are. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The plan for a better tomorrow. But what is each step? And how do you do it? That's what we'll talk about today.
For me Reduce is the hardest. It really is. It is the one little part that I struggle with the most. What does Reduce entail?
Reduce means to lessen down the amount of waste that you have overall. Recycling is great but not having much to recycle to begin with is what reduce is all about. Many packages now days that you buy in stores are not recyclable anyway. Kind of sad, but there it is. So Reducing the amount of waste that you make it very important.
Why is this so hard for me? Well, to be honest I'd gotten rather used to all those handy dandy single serving everythings. It is so much easier to just 'grab and go' with all those nifty little products. Is it easier to grab a bottle of soda or can of soda instead of pouring a cup out of a two liter? Yeah... that much easier, no, not really, but still those little steps that seem to make your life a little bit easier add up. It's an easy path to fall down.
Lunch time can easily consist of a juice box or can of soda, single serving apple sauce or pudding cup, easy mac bowl, Lunchable, etc etc. (lets talk about the preservatives and other nastiness in THOSE things later, shall we? *wink*)
So that's one way we go down hill. Another is what I like to call "Disposable America". We are so prone to throwing everything away! I didn't really pay much attention. I didn't really put much thought into it. As a matter of fact I was one of those people that when a new 'convenient' product was put in front of my eyes I would light up and say "Ooooohhhhh!"
You know the ones. The paper towels, the paper Hand Towels they are marketing for home use now, the paper plates, plastic cups, (dinner is sooo much easier when you don't have dishes to do eh?), the little mops with disposable pads, the toilet brush wands with the little flushable tops, diapers (mmhmm I went there) Menstrual Pads, (I went THERE too!) it all adds up to such much trash in our landfills. It's not necessary. Is it easier? Well, yes. But we don't NEED these things.
Another area that falls into Reduce is product selection when you are out shopping. This one can be a little trickier because sometimes we don't have much of a choice. Anyone that has had to deal with kids toys after a birthday party or holiday will know what I mean on this one.... Ever spent what seems like hours cutting open, tearing, unboxing, untwisting ties, and otherwise figuring out the puzzle that it is to get a darn toy out to give to a kid? Why do we need that much packaging? Anti theft preparation is going crazy. Some things are simple, buy that bag of cereal instead of the bag that is then put into the box, you know, little things like that when you can.
The good news on that one is, the more "green" or more 'natural' or 'healthier' products typically have less packaging already. It gets easier as you start paying attention and that is one of those 'give aways' on rather a product really is 'green' or 'natural'. ;-)
Here are some of the tips I have for Reducing your waste:
- Don't get disposable plates, cups and silverware. Most are not recyclable, and that really turned me off to find out. Doing that extra load of dishes isn't that big of a deal really.
- Bring your reusable shopping bags. Keep some in your car. I drop some off in my trunk and try to keep a rotating supply. When I carry in groceries, I bring some back out to the car and throw them back in the trunk and then grab another load to carry in. Easy enough.
- Buy a good metal water bottle or two. It will help you to drink the water you need but not use plastic bottles.
- Buy in bulk as much as possible. (Money saving tip as well!) Buying in bulk makes less trash and allows you to portion control better. It also saves money.
- Washable towels, napkins, hankies even go a long way! (this is one I'm still working on)
- Try to avoid single serving products.
- Look into cloth diapers (Which we'll cover in another blog)
- Look into Mama Pads and Menstrual Cups (which I'll talk about later)
- Reuse containers when possible. Like the jars from spaghetti sauces, baby food jars, etc
- Try to buy fresh fruits and veggies instead of canned and frozen
- Try to find uses for things before you toss it. Sometimes things can have another purpose. Coke bottles make great craft supplies for example!
- When choosing products try to buy the ones that generate less waste and packaging
- Buy a bunch of squirt bottles, spray bottles, jars, etc etc and make your own products and keep re-using the same products. Or buy in bulk and refill the same reusable products. (this goes in both reduce and reuse)
(I'm losing my train of thought between the baby being awake and the hubby home and talking to me now, sorry)
- A lot of things offer online copies, magazines, newspapers etc. Sometimes I like the hard copy to save when I really like it. But otherwise I try to do a lot of online periodicals.
- Again with magazines and things, find other uses. I really like using my to cut up for craft projects. Scrapbooking, kids pictures. Santa Claus lists, etc.
- You can also take reusable coffee cups to coffee shops instead of getting a disposable cup every time.
- When shopping for products try to find things that the packaging is recyclable instead of things that have to be thrown in the regular trash bin.
If anyone has any other tips, feel free to leave them in the comments!