Staying at home day after day has made me realize a few things, and one of them is how easy it would be for us to make a few easy changes to our lifestyle to be a little kinder to Mother Earth. A few of the following ideas actually came about because of a shortage in paper products in my area, and others have been percolating for years.
Here’s a quick, fun fact about me: When I was in elementary school, I founded a club called “The Pollution Solution.” I had an official notebook, of course, and ideas for how to contribute to the environment inside of taking away from it. So maybe this is the start of my adult version of that. In honor of the little girl who founded The Pollution Solution, here are my ideas for easy ways to be kinder to the environment:
Use cloth napkins
Chris and I have used paper napkins since we’ve been together, and to be honest, I’m not sure why. We just have, but that recently changed. With the recent paper products shortage around the country, it got me thinking of how we could replace or reduce the amount of paper products in our kitchen. Replacing the napkins was easy. I found some cute cloth ones online, ordered and once we ran out of our paper ones, we just swapped in the cloth. And you know what? I prefer the cloth napkins – they’re so soft!
Microfiber towels are better than paper
My husband has invested in microfiber towels like he owns stock in them. Admittedly, I used to not like them because I hate the texture. But, they’re amazing for dusting, cleaning and wiping. And, they really help reduce the amount of paper towels used around the house. We’re still using paper towels for certain things, but have started to incorporate microfiber towels into our cleaning routines to help reduce the amount of paper waste.
Compost when possible
Hear me out. Did you know you can just add coffee grounds to your household plants’ soil to fortify it? Composting doesn’t have to be gross. Using a little of the plant matter you probably already have from cooking and eating can make a huge difference for your plants. Check out this article from “Self” if you’re interested in composting. It has great tips from the simplest way to use your scraps, all the way to what bins to use and how to create your own.
Use all your food
This tip kind of piggybacks on the above. How often do you buy groceries or cook, then throw away leftovers or parts of the produce that you haven’t used? You can reduce your consumption levels by making a promise to yourself to use more of what you actually have, instead of just buying more. Eat those leftovers, or recreate them into a new meal. I struggle with this one, but it’s so important. Also, save the ends of your veggies and use them to make stock. Same with bones and meat scraps. Use ends of juices and other random items in your fridge for sauces and desserts. This could be your moment to create something entirely new.
Stop buying so much stuff
We just moved, and with every box I packed and unpacked I wished I had less stuff. I regularly purge and donate items, and this is one I’m very passionate about. I think we, as humans, have too much stuff in general. The next time you’re thinking of buying something, just stop and ask if you really need it, or if you already have something just like it. Those old things you have – can you repurpose them, give them to someone who could use them, or even sell them somehow? I’ve been trying, little by little, to reduce my overall consumption, realizing that what I have is enough.
Use your recycling bins
Most houses and apartments furnish recycling bins for residents, or you can request them from your local recycler. But do you use them? It’s as easy as setting aside a bin or bag for recyclables, then dumping them in their respective bin outside when that’s full. It takes a minimal amount of work, but it can help. Every little bit does.
Plant a garden
The cool thing about gardens is they can take on any form you want, in any space you have. You can plant herbs, peppers, tomatoes, really anything depending on your space. But planting greenery has so many benefits, from reducing the need to run out to the store if you’re growing your own food, to simply beautifying your space.
Invest in reusable produce and grocery bags
Admittedly, I’m terrible about remembering to use mine. But I do have them and am working hard to remember them every time I go to the store so I don’t have to bring plastic bags home. Plus, using your own produce bags eliminates the need to touch the same bag dispenser everyone else is using, which, in this climate, is a plus.
Use a water filter
Get yourself a water filter to filter your own water at home. Second best in my mind is using a community water filter service like Watermill in Las Vegas.
Just bidet it
My friend installed a bidet in her home when toilet paper was running low, and I think she’s a genius. This is the ultimate way to cut down on toilet paper usage at home. If you can do it where you live, why not give it a try? Go full European and let the rest of us know what it’s like.