Friday, April 6, 2012

Ditch The Package

Last few posts we have talked about many ways to recycle items. I just
learned a staggering statistic : one person generates 400 lb of waste a day!
This is not just your personal trash but when you consume items it accounts
for the waste that was made in that process. Things we don't think about.
It can be overwhelming but if we take one area, work on it, we can do better.
Today we are taking on food & grocery packaging. 
When I tackled our trash problem I became nut-so with reducing our trash output.
I recycled, composted, reused, donated or whatever with great flair.
Then the day came. The trash man only had one lonely half filled can to dump.
I had such a sense of pride.
Until I looked over at my recycling pile. Two cans and overflowing.
We all know recycling is great. But the best alternative to recycling is under consuming.
We have to understand even if we recycle plastic, it never leaves the earth.
It can never be destroyed. It will just keep showing up in one form or the other.
That piece of knowledge is hard for me to forget.
When I see all the plastic that "green" products are packaged in, I get a bit upset.
We have come so far. Too far to be buying organic vegetable shoved in plastic bags
at Whole Foods people. It makes no sense.
The sensible thing is to reduce your packaging.
Here is some simple ways to do so.....

No more plastic produce bags. 
I have these that I got at Target of all places. They were clearance, you can find them at Amazon now.

Even better, support small businesses and get some of these off Etsy!

Buy in bulk, use reusable bags.
We use homemade muslin bags for dried goods like bean, dried fruit and grains.
Buying in bulk lets us not only control the packaging but the amount
we need as well. Whole Foods again has a good area of bulk items.
You can make your own bags, or again support some small business on Etsy. :)

Find a butcher/cheese shop that lets you bring your own container.
We haven't found one that carries clean meats that allows us to do this yet.
In the mean time we purchase in bulk (no single slices of cheese bought here!) and
hope that it lessens our waste.
Ask your butcher/deli person if you can bring your own container. If so what they
will normally do is tare weight your container before hand or weigh your items without
the container then fill it up. Your going to get questions. Tell them your aiming for
zero waste not only in your home, but your aiming to help them lower their cost as well. :)

Reusable shopping bags.
This is a no brainer. You can buy them, thrift them or make them.
Either way, even recycling these horrible bags is not good for the environment.
Besides. the bags can be used for many things. They are our beach bags, library
bag, make shift luggage (oh yes, we are that family!) and sometimes lunch bag for all of us.
They just make a ton of sense and affordable to all.
Tip: Keep them in your car if your like me and tend to forget them if they are stored elsewhere!

Skip out on single serving items. 
While its easier to pack your kids lunch with a single yogurt, the waste is staggering.
Buy a larger container and use a reusable container for lunches.
Things we stopped buying.....bottled water, single serving snacks, yogurts, granola bars and so on.
Make your own, buy in bulk or just do without!

Ditch the water bottles.
Those single serving water bottles are your worst friend. They are wasteful in their packaging.
They also tend to be left in the car and the plastic heats & leaches into your drink. UGH.
Can we say cancer? No thanks.
Tap water is perfectly fine. And in case your like me who has well water that is not fine or if
drinking straight from the tap weirds you out, get a large water filter. No waste and great healthy drink.
We are personally are saving funds for a Berkley Water Filter.

Other tips :
* Make your own detergent.
* Save all your glass jars for food storage.
* Go to your Farmers Market for even less packaging & to work with smaller vendors who
are more than likely willing to work with your packaging needs. :)
* If you can't avoid packaging, buy in bulk and share with a friend.
* Buy bulk cheese and slice it yourself.
* Make your own reusable snack bags, buy in bulk and save money & packaging!
* Find items that have multiple uses. For instance we don't purchase cold cereal. We use
oatmeal instead. Not only for breakfast but we use it in our homemade facial cleaners & soaps.
We use oatmeal in meatloaf and so on. When items have more than one use, it eliminates the need
for multiple items in multiple packages.
* Make your own cleaners. It easy, cheap and much better for your family.
* Cooking from scratch! Ditch those pre-made boxes of rice pilaf, your a better cook.
* Buy seasonal produce in bulk then freeze or can surplus when it is out of season. Homemade
apple sauce from organic apples is so much better than store bought and better for you.

My suggestion to make changes in your home is always going to be the same whether we are
talking about recycling, going all cloth or eating healthy food - start small.
Take one area your concerned about, work on that until you are satisfied then find the next
area to work on. Eventually you will get there and you won't be overwhelmed in the process.
Our family still has a ways to go. Confession : When I was sick I bought single serving applesauce.
But we are doing better and we continue to look for ways to do better.

(I get nothing for the links above. I am not an affiliate and those are not my friends or families Etsy shops. I just happen to like those products. )


Becca said...

I just found your blog and have read through several pages and love it! I have been making an effort to move towards a waste free household. I have used reusable shopping bags and water bottles for years, but I have added cloth napkins and "paper" towels and to the list. Next month I am purchasing reusable sandwich bags and produce bags. I just bought reusable bread bags to store my homemade bread this month. I have a goal to replace something disposable with a reusable counterpart every month. I already buy in bulk and make my own cleaning, beauty supplies and laundry soap, so there is no waste there. I am starting a garden this spring as well. It is fun to decided what I am going to replace each month. Looking forward to reading more of your blog. - Rebecca

Chele said...

I love how you are taking slow steady steps! This is what I tell so many steps. It all starts to add up and its not overwhelming! So glad to have you comment. :)