Sunday, June 13, 2010

REDUCE, Reuse, Recycle

This will be a three part blog as I have time to finish the other two. Right now we are working on a bit of 'sleep training' in teaching Rebel (Pet name for the 4th month old) that it's okay to sleep somewhere not on top of Mommy. haha So she is sleeping on a blanket in the floor at my feet. Doing well so far.

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!


  1. Great post!

    Yeah, I'm right there with you on getting a late start on the RRR train. But I'm there now! As you already know, when X & I moved in together I started recycling. I had to start out small, because we lived in such a small space, but I figured we had to start somewhere! Now, of course, I have the space for a more elaborate set-up & I'm very pleased. In a typical week we only have 1 to 2 bags of actual garbage to take to the street, everything else gets recycled. And we anticipate that number will go down next year when X starts composting! We have also discussed putting up a clothesline but have no concrete plans for that yet. We use reusable shopping bags & have found that the single serving items are way more expensive in addition to creating more waste products so those are generally out! We use a dust mop & wet mop that have wash & reuse heads. We still use paper towels for meals, though I insist on getting the select-a-size rolls so that we can use less of those... we use dishrags & towels for clean up, so we really only use the paper towels for wiping mouths & hands at meals. I guess we could look into cloth napkins though, that honestly hadn't occurred to me before.

    We are always looking for new ways to conserve too. I think the only time we have ever bought paper plates was for a birthday party once & if we buy cups for a party we always get the Solo plastic cups that we can recycle (that's a rarity too though). I have always been interested in Mama Pads and Menstrual Cups but don't know anyone who's every used them so that I can ask questions. I wonder how practical they are for wearing out and I worry about odor. Honestly though, I haven't done any research on them so I am sure I'm totally in the dark.

    What do you know about soaps & detergents that are labeled as being "green" due to lower or no phosphates? What's the deal there?

  2. Oooo, look what I just found! Have you seen this website??? Neat!

  3. I will do a blog on mama cloth and menstrual cups, even "family cloth" soon! And I plan to discuss cleaning products too! But as a quick tip Vinegar is your best friend ever! I plan to make most of my cleaning products

  4. Oh, and to add in, 7th Generation is actually a really good cleaning product and company. I've looked into them a lot. I have a lot of other 'tricks up my sleeve" too. haha

    And I use a menstrual cup and I can honestly say the odor is farily non existent. Way less than the normal products. problem with pads and tampons is the type of stuff they are made out of basically starts to 'rot' which is where that heavy smell comes from much more than the actual blood.

  5. Really??? Huh.. Interesting. I shall have to discuss this a bit more with you, tomorrow while we are sewing maybe? :)

    I have seen the 7th Generation stuff. Food City actually carries it, which is awesome for a mainstream grocer. But don't know much about them. I use the Clorox brand of green kitchen cleaner, which I just love btw, but am gonna look into the 7th Generation stuff... they make toilet tissue too don't they?

  6. I believe I've seen the 7th Generation brand at Kroger as well. Although for a glass/counter/stove/all-around cleaner I've been using the Arm & Hammer Essentials Multi-Surface cleaner. You buy the empty spray bottle and a small bottle (smaller than a pill bottle and recyclable) of concentrated plant-based cleaner. Fill bottle with water and add concentrate. It works wonderfully well and it's safe around the furkids (and human varieties as well). I stocked up on them last time I found them and only have one left. :( Hopefully I can find more. Problem with using something like vinegar... I'd probably have the dogs going around licking everything I cleaned. LOL Sasha has had vinegar (apple cider) before and seemed to like it mixed with water.