Small Steps to Sustainability
"Sustainability" was one of the words that came to my mind at the beginning of 2020 as a defining characteristic of this year. This was going to be the year that the Earth was going to be front and center, finally be respected and taken care of in the way that She always should have been, or so I thought... I was going to go plastic-less at the grocery store, commit to using renewably sourced products, and try to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible with composting, reducing, repurposing and recycling. Then the pandemic hit, and BAM - back to using one time use plastic bags at the store because my cotton bags aren't allowed in. :( Back in the day, I'd save these plastic bags for diapers (no need for Diaper Genie!) but we are out of that phase now, so I use them to wrap up stinky trash that can't be thrown out immediately.
Ok, so now we are into the new normal a bit, but there are still things we can do to reduce waste and lessen our load on Mother Earth. Where we are in California, uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps can be put into the green bins, so with all the cooking we do, this has eliminated nearly 50% of our household waste volume! I bought a small step trash can with a removable insert that I put under the sink, so we can easily compost until it's full enough to be dumped outside. With our family of 5, we now go through 1 1/2 bags of regular trash a week. I'd love to get closer to zero but we are getting there! What can you do to reduce your waste?
In an effort to be more eco-conscious, the past few years I have gotten the majority of clothes for myself and the kids from second hand stores. One online option that I've used quite a bit is Thredup.com, which has a lot of good quality clothes at reasonable prices. It's fun to get a box of relatively new clothes delivered, knowing that they are being kept out of the landfill and hopefully enjoyed! In the rare instances that the clothes don't work for us, I don't feel bad passing it on as it wasn't that expensive to begin with. :)
With so much time spent indoors recently, you may have had a chance to go through some of your things at home and decided to do a purge (Trust me when I tell you, I have a LONG way to go....). With paring down, maybe it's time to evaluate and figure out, "Do I really NEED that item?" Times of stress and hardship can really shift our priorities and give us a new perspective to live by. Sometimes the things that give me the most pleasure these days are not actual "things" but experiences, moments and the little instances that truly warm my heart. Often I've found less is more, in that I can actually SEE what I have and be able to fully enjoy it (as opposed to digging through all my piles of stuff because there's no dedicated space for them!). This idea is nothing new, I know, but with a renewed emphasis on environmentalism and its impacts on the health of the world, this lens may bring it a little closer to what resonates with you as we move forward as a society dedicated to sustainability.
And if you do find there is something you need, can you get creative in your repurposing? Maybe you can reuse a jam or pickle jar for a nonplastic solution for food storage for the fridge or pantry, or maybe even use them for water glasses (we use Mason jelly jars for kids cups because they are easy to replace). In going through my things, I've found old art supplies that are still useable that the kids can now easily delve into for a project, or wooden crates in the garage that can be repurposed into patio garden boxes. Flat jewelry boxes or small containers can be used to organize messy drawers, and a clothespin can work to hang dish gloves off the dish rack to let me dry and keep them from getting musty.
Thinking outside the box can be fun and inspiring! What do you like to do to help Mother Earth these days? Let me know! I'd love to hear some of your ideas!