Things I’m doing to help Mother Earth

Lately I’ve been feeling a little discouraged about the state of things in the world, especially with the environment and planet… I feel like every day I read a new article about melting arctic ice and another animal that’s on the brink of extinction. It’s so heartbreaking and discouraging… I feel helpless and like there’s nothing I can do as a one tiny human on this big Earth to make even the smallest difference to help the environment and our planet.

But we all know that’s not true… and while I might not be able to single-handedly reverse global warming, I can definitely make some changes in my everyday life to create less waste and hopefully lessen my own impact on the planet, and so that’s what I’m doing. I wanted to share some things I already do {that I hope you do too!}, and some things I am implementing to be more thoughtful about my consumption and more Earth friendly.

 

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Recycling {seriously, does anyone not do this?!}

We are already big-time recyclers in our household, and if you’re not, well get on the bandwagon! For real. It might literally be the easiest thing you can do to help reduce your footprint on the planet. If you’re in Chicago, absolutely do not put those recyclables in the bin in a plastic bag. I didn’t think this was true for a long time and it turns out I was part of the problem! Here’s a great resource for what is recyclable in Chicago, and how to dispose of everything.

CFL bulb

Also, did you know that most lightbulbs aren’t recyclable? Sad but true. BUT ~ the spiral compact fluorescent bulbs are, but not with the regular recyclables in the blue bin. Just get a little bin or bag to collect them up {because let’s be real, we aren’t making a trip for every individual lightbulb}, and you can drop them off at most hardware stores, along with your used batteries, which also need to be disposed of separately. Help that earth!

canvas bag

Reusable bags

Do you use canvas bags for shopping? We use them 99% of the time we go shopping, and I actually really prefer this to having to take home plastic or paper bags from the store. They are far more durable {duh}, but really I mean the handles don’t break if things are heavy, or if something with a sharp edge isn’t in there just right. Most of ours were just free gifts of one kind or another that we use, and of course I’m a country girl from the south so I have a few LLBean boat and tote bags that I seriously love in the mix as well. But there are plenty of cute designer ones out there for you if that’s what it takes to get you going with them! I always keep a few in the trunk so I know they’re there when I need them, even for an unexpected stop. And the plastic bags we do end up bringing home get collected and returned to the store to be recycled {there’s usually a bin right by the front door of the grocery store, and at Target. they take all the bags, not just for that one store!}.

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Cloth napkins anyone?

I’ve been really noticing just how many paper towels we go through in our house… it’s a lot! We use them for everything, including napkins, and I just feel like it’s both wasteful and costly, and we could be doing better somehow. So I’ve decided to start using cloth napkins, and I’m actually super excited to make this change! Not only do I feel much more grown up, meals feel fancier because I’m using beautiful napkins and we are already using noticeably less paper towels which feels great. From a design standpoint you can mix and match colors and patterns and the possibilities are endless. I try to get patterns that I think will stand the test of time, as opposed to getting anything that I think might be a passing trend, no matter how cute it is. I want to be able to keep these for years, and keep to my goal of creating less waste. Links to a few of my favorites are here, here, here and here!

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Bee’s Wrap anyone? 

In the same vein as wanting to use less paper products, man do we use a lot of plastic wrap! And this is probably worse than using too many paper towels because it’s on the planet forever. I never really gave plastic wrap a second thought until recently, and now i think it might be the worst invention ever {don’t get me started on the k-cups though, which i definitely don’t use}. I recently discovered Bee’s Wrap and am pretty excited about it. I’ll be honest that it has been a little bit more challenging to just switch right over to using just this and not any plastic wrap, but I think once this last roll is gone it’ll be a done deal {or do I just donate the plastic wrap and be done with it? hmmm…}.

beeswrap 1.jpg

This product comes in pre-sized sheets, I got a couple of mediums and a variety pack that has some larger pieces as well. The texture is interesting, it feels like heavy waxed fabric, and you just put it over a dish like you would normally use plastic wrap, or you can just wrap up whatever food you want to store, easy peasy. You wash it off in the sink, and over time it gets a little more pliable as it gets used more. You can just wrap up a little handful of fruit, or put it on top of a bowl ~ and it’s been a great excuse to get more use out of my vintage pyrex!

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Plastic Cups & Straws {UGH}

You guys, this might be my most challenging one, I almost didn’t include it here because I’m that hooked. I have a serious Starbucks habit. I love their iced tea! But I use so many plastic straws and cups, just my one little self! I feel super guilty about this and I don’t want to give up my delish habit, but I have to make a change. I was so happy to read that Starbucks is eliminating their plastic straws and they will be totally phased out by 2020, and I do recycle all plasticware that I use religiously, but in the spirit of trying to be as diligent as possible, I’m doing two things. First is using my own-reusable cup as often as possible. And when I’m on the go and don’t have it with me, I’m going to switch to a size that I can get the adult sippy cup lid with, so no more straws for me {and yes, I do know there is a heated debate about disabled people who need straws, but that’s not what this post is about. I am able bodied and can do without them, so I will. Yes, I do believe that people who need these items to survive should have them, but the rest of us? Let’s just help out the sea-turtles and the planet because we can, okay? okay}

Like everything in life, some changes are harder than others, especially when we are trying to change something that is super easy for us, like why would we change a habit that is convenient and makes our over stressed life easier. But I know that as I continue to change habits for a better earth, once I get used to the new way I will wonder why I ever did it the old way, and I’ll be happier in the end. What are your tips and tricks for being more green at home? Do you have any habits that I haven’t mentioned here? I need to know as many as I can so send any ideas you have my way!

 

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