Waste Not, Want Not?

Earth Day is around the corner (April 22nd) which always makes me confront my horrible wasteful ways.   While many people connect simple living with green living, that hasn’t been my personal experience. I just find being wasteful much easier.  Isn’t it easier to just dump those batteries and cans in the trash? It’s definitely easier to use the dryer than hang things on a line.  

Every so often though, I try to be more “green”.  For me, that isn’t not only about buying organic cotton or recycled goods; it’s about consuming and wasting less.

The Good:

  • Recycling plastic / cans:  My husband and I used to recycle regularly.  In recent years, we’ve been giving our recyclable cans/bottles to a cleaning person at my work or cleaning person/nanny.  We don’t get the money but we don’t have to haul it away either and it’s win-win for all.
  • Paper: I am trying to write notes/lists on the back of used office paper. 
  • Baby Clothes/Stuff:  We’re good at donating gently used baby stuff to other parents.  We also buy used clothes in general.
  • Using What We Have:  I’ve had some success with using containers and bags that we already have around the house.   Also,  reading Your Money or Your Life has encouraged me to think before I buy.
  • Recycling home batteries (like Duracell, etc):  Most businesses only accept rechargeable batteries for recycling.  We were lucky that several Jiffy Lubes in Southern California actually accept and recycle these (AA,  AAA, C and D cell).  Battery toxins include mercury, nickel and leadI just think it’s important to recycle these; when they’re dumped in the trash, these toxins pollute water systems and increase levels of lead and acid in the environment.
  • Buying Organic:  We can’t afford to go all-organic but we do try to buy organic meats, eggs, milk and some fruits/vegetables.
  • Less meat?:  We don’t feel like we have to eat meat at every meal.  However, this is not something I’m actively tracking so I’m not quite sure how we do on this.
  • Green cleaning: We find that vinegar and baking soda does the job in most cases.  We also use greener laundry detergent.  We can still improve on this but I’m happy that we are breathing less/no toxic fumes!
  • Magazine recycling: I’ve been reading way too many fashion and design magazines. However, I give them away pretty quickly. That way, I am not too tempted.  I figure that sharing them among a few co-workers or friends prolongs their shelf life at least.

The Bad & Ugly

  • Paper (again):  We use paper plates.  My love of pretty notebooks is fighting with my desire to not waste paper.  I print things out way too much.
  • Recycling Medications: Not doing this even though I know that improper disposal of medications are a major environmental problem. I read that CVS pharmacy offers an environmentally sound disposal system but I have never seen any signage when I’m there.  Must check this out (and remember to do this…)
  • Diapers: No cloth for us!
  • Gas: No carpool partner in sight + long commute.
  • Dryer:  We dry clothes all the time.
  • Plastic bags: We used to be better about bringing our own grocery bags to stores.
  • More Pre-made foods = more trash?  I would assume that when you cook less and use more pre-packaged goods, you end up with more waste.

Are you very environmentally conscious?  I’d love to hear your best green living tips.

8 responses to “Waste Not, Want Not?

  1. We throw away too much food. I just bought three big snap-lid containers that we can store crackers and Goldfish and such in, so that they won’t go stale just because the bag is open.

  2. We got a clothesline and now hang our clothes to dry, just finishing them quickly in the dryer. This has knocked at most $1 off our gas bill, which means it is saving a negligible amount of energy.I honestly think this isn’t worth the trade off in time to do laundry. But it makes my husband happy so I don’t argue the point.

    And gah! The medication thing is so darned complicated. I didn’t realize CVS offered a program. Too bad the nearest CVS is a 10 minute drive away, while the nearest Rite Aid is walking distance. I say again, gah! This one drives me nuts. They should all have to take back the unused portion.

    • Rite Aid is also more convenient for me, but I can get to a CVS near my work. For now, I plan to start gathering expired medications in one place and see if I can find this CVS program the next time I go there. I don’t think that we actually dispose of too many unused/expired meds but then again, just a few months ago, I recall dumping bottles of expired Advil, etc..

  3. It always feels good doing the “right” thing….recycling,reducing waste,making green choices…..and always feels bad doing the wrong thing…not being bothered to use cloth shop bags, buying so much packaged stuff. I figure as long as we are trying than that has to be a good thing??? Thanks for your post…today when I go shopping I WILL use my green shopping bags!

  4. Eating too much meat is a big thing for us. I’m just a product of my upbringing. Meals=hunk of meat with random crap that isn’t meat thrown in on the side. And since I try to be “good” (ug) with buying organic, etc., it’s super expensive.

  5. It really shouldn’t be called simple living. I’ve always thought that simple living is much more effort, that’s why not everybody does it. It should be called natural living. I have compost, burn paper & cardboard in wood stove, eat meat twice or thrice a month if that. . Some months I don’t eat it at all. If it’s not grass fed, I won’t touch it. I get my eggs from a local farmer whose hens are free range, but he feeds them lay grain when the grass isn’t good and I still haven’t found out if this is GMO or not. Some years husband chops down a few trees, so we don’t pay for wood. This spring he’s going to chop and season a few maples. I eat mostly vegetables (husband’s in the summer) and organic chocolate. I went off chocolate for a few days last week and lost three pounds, so that’s how much I eat of that. I have to take my own garbage to the dump which is about 8 miles away and when I go it’s mostly bottles to recycle.

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