In the past I’ve spoken about convictions I’ve been having over the past few years about reducing waste and reusing what materials I can find when it comes to building furniture. For the most part, I think that’s been going well. I’ve made quite a few things from reclaimed materials. Open shelving in my kitchen, the 5 board console tables, shutter tables, our rustic cooler, tractor seat barstools, and more. I still use new materials from time to time, but I’m trying to focus as much as possible on using PureBond plywood (harvested in North America to reduce my carbon footprint, and also formaldehyde-free to keep excess chemicals out of my home and environment), cedar (a sustainable, North American resource with a small carbon footprint) and locally harvested pine or whitewood. I’d like to whittle down my usage of new products as much as possible to contribute less to the ever-increasing level of consumption in our nation today.
I know I sound like a crunchy hippie right now. Some of my friends are blaming my close proximity to Austin. But the issue of waste been weighing on my mind for a long time now, and I finally had the final push to get me to be active in those beliefs, instead of passive. Here are a few ways my family is going to try to reduce our consumption of natural resources as well as benefit our emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness:
My list ranges from least to most effort –
1. Quit Buying on Impulse – So much of our minds are occupied with stuff. Getting the latest fashions, keeping up with technology, grabbing the newest gadget on the shelf. In an effort to save money as well as not buying into corporate marketing and advertising, I’ve just stopped buying non-essentials. I already have a closet stocked full of clothes and shoes for every season. My MacBook Pro from 2008 runs like a top. My house is full of junk already, I don’t need any additional clutter. Canceling our cable was the absolute best thing we could have done. I no longer see hundreds of ads making me want, want, want all day long. The time has come to stop wanting and start appreciating what is already in front of me. I have a fantastic family to spend time with. We live in a fabulous area to take walks with the dogs. I have more than enough. Enough food, clothes, technology, everything. I’m making an effort to stop buying and start living. If you have a few minutes, watch this video and it will blow your mind.
2. Exchanging Physical with Technological – Confused? For starters, I’m talking about E-Readers!
I love to read. Books, magazines, articles, all of it. I received a Nook Color as a gift a while back and it’s really helped me save on my paper consumption. Magazine subscriptions rack up a lot of materials. And I enjoy reading quite a few of them. I subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens, HGTV Magazine, Country Living, and I hear that Domino is set to come back on the stands in May. I’ve also got dozens of books loaded up here. I feel so much less guilty about reading the short, quick novels I’d typically donate to the used bookstore when I’m not taking up any actual paper space. I know a lot of you still like the notion of flipping through the pages and tearing sheets from magazines, but with the advent of Pinterest I just find the image on the publisher’s website and keep it on my pinboards! So much easier than loose leaflets that get torn and wrinkled. I know the tech solution isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great way for me to save on our overall physical consumption. And instead of buying dvd’s we’ll watch once or twice or driving to the Redbox or rental store, we have a Hulu Plus and Netflix subscription. There are so many great shows and movies, and don’t even get me started on the kids stuff. Charlie is set! One last way we save on paper is getting bills and making payments online. I know it sounds scary for some (including my mother, who refuses to shop online. PERIOD!), but it’s more convenient, and I don’t have all the paper in my mailbox or cluttering up my kitchen. I set reminders on my calendar, log in, make payments, and we’re done!
3. Ditch the Bottled Water – Bottled water is a tough one. Our city tap water hasn’t always tasted great (Waco was by far the worst ever), so I used to stack my fridge full of plastic bottles. Convenient, but awful. Many of my friends swear by filtering pitchers or ones attached to the faucet, but I’m a big fan of the reverse osmosis system. We finally got the tank installed, and holy cow is the water amazing. Plus, no waste! I fill up 2-3 metal canteens each day to chill in the fridge, and I’m all set. Wash, rinse, refill. I even have a small one for Charlie. It’s perfect to grab on the go and take in the car. No more plastic bottles on my watch!
4. Buy Local – So I’m not about to get too political on you about GMOs and corporate food manufacturers. I recently heard about the fantastic book that is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It literally changed my world. I’ve been iffy for a while on the food industry, and this book really pushed me over the edge. I have a lot of plans in the works for homesteading (to talk more in detail later), but for starters I decided to do the bulk of my shopping at my local Farmer’s Market. It’s every Wednesday from 3-6 in Wimberley, if I have some Hill Country readers. They’ve got a great little variety. I pick up my bread, eggs, cheese, grass-fed meats, and some greens there each week. It’s my new tradition to post my haul on Instagram along with a few meals of these awesome organic, healthy ingredients. Plus? It truly isn’t any more expensive than the grocer. Now that I cut out a vast bulk of processed foods (we were never snackers anyway), the chip money goes to whole grain breads with no preservatives. Fresh greens that still crunch. The most amazingly spicy arugula I never knew existed. I spend about $80 a week on meat and produce. It’s an investment, but one worth making to feel more energized and avoid all the junk that’s pumped into food these days.
5. Cloth Diapering –
Oh yes. It may have taken 18 months, but we are officially a cloth diapering family. It’s pretty much the hippiest thing to do right now. People look at you like you’re insane. I bought an entire stash of gDiapers from a friend (yes! USED! Scandalous I know) for $250 which pretty much runs the life of a baby in the diaper years. I decided to try it out with Charlie to see if we liked it before I committed to cloth diapering baby #2 from the start. And guess what? IT’S AWESOME! My husband adamantly refused the idea. In fact, I had to pay for the diapers with blog money (so mega thanks guys, you helped save the planet with your pageviews! and even he is a convert. The great thing about these diapers is that you can have a cloth or disposable insert. So, on that last diaper change before my husband gets home, I pop in a disposable insert so he can change diapers in the “normal” way. Open it up, toss the insert, wipe, put in clean insert, velcro diaper. It takes no extra time than a conventional change. But you may be wondering the same thing he did, what makes these disposables better than a normal disposable diaper? Well, take a gander at this:
A normal disposable diaper takes 500 YEARS to decompose. And the average baby uses 6,000 before potty training. That is a massive amount of gross clogging up our landfills. And it will be there, increasing infinitely as the population rises. The disposable inserts? They compost in less than 150 days. And you can add the wet ones to your garden compost (though we won’t use it in edibles for the ick factor) and flush/trash the dirty ones. That is a massive difference. And since we use the cloth inserts overnight and most of the day, that’s maybe 2 disposables a day at 18 months old. That’s a really big reduction right there. From 6 diapers a day to two tiny compostable inserts.I am now a cloth diapering evangelist. Even my mom, who keeps Charlie often and was leery of cloth, is excited about them. She even grabbed a sprayer to wash off the cloth inserts at the toilet. This is one small decision that makes a massive impact on consumption and waste. I am a total cloth diapering evangelist now! Even Target is carrying a line of cloth diapers. We use the Charlie Banana inserts with no problem in our g’s. So if you have a baby, or are expecting, please don’t count cloth diapering out. You are still making a massive difference even by using the covers with only disposable inserts. Instead of your child leaving a lasting legacy of poop 5x longer than their lifetime, it will be gone before they’re 4 years old. Plus you save a chunk of cash (even with the initial investment) and can recoup it like my friend did by re-selling them. It’s a win for everyone!
So, there you have it. 6 small, very easy, very feasible ways to make a difference today. Even the smallest change will have large impacts over time. Together, we can make the world a cleaner, better place for ourselves and our future generations!