Sustainability at home

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Photo by Sylvie Tittel 

Lately I’ve read many wonderful blog posts on sustainable living and how to go “zero waste”.  Zero waste is more of an aspirational than a fully achievable goal, but rethinking habits and decreasing the amount of stuff we throw away is a great way for individuals to begin to reduce their environmental impact.

Here are some of the steps we’ve taken toward this goal:

Instead of buying paper towels we’ve switched to using cloth napkins for meals and reusable Norwex microfiber cloths for cleaning.

Since learning bulk dental floss is a thing, we’ve cut our use of plastic floss packaging.  A refillable holder is available for these spools, or better yet, make one from available materials like Joe did. 

Speaking of dental floss, it makes sense to swap single-use plastic dental floss picks for a refillable Y-shaped floss holder.  (I’m lookin’ at you cuz).

Refillable dental floss holder

These reusable silicone pouches are great for storing food and we’ve completely cut our use of plastic sandwich bags.

Although we compost, we tend not to balance the green and brown materials or turn our compost pile as often as recommended, so we’ve recently gotten into worm composting. These VermiTek worm bins make the process pretty easy and I hope to use the worm poop that is produced to fertilize our garden.

Worm tower
Worm tower

We have replaced our use of plastic wrap with reusable Beeswax food wraps. I will admit I was a bit nervous about these at first, but now that we have some, I find they work just great.

We recently received these reusable produce bags as a gift, and I am super excited to start using them.

We each keep a generous supply of reusable shopping bags in our cars. For me the trick is storing them in the car. If I didn’t, I would never remember to bring them with me to the grocery store. 

Reusable produce bags

We avoid buying individually packaged foods and purchase in bulk when possible. 

We quit using plastic straws. When a server has brought one lately I’ve returned it saying “thanks, I don’t need this”.  However, I think it is better to just say “no straw please!” when the server takes our drink order. 

I carry a refillable water bottle that negates the need to purchase bottled water.

Since learning an ingredient of gum is plastic, I’ve completely sworn off the stuff. The good news is a fully biodegradable gum may soon be more widely available.

In 2020, I’m hoping to try solid dish washing blocks, Swedish dishcloths and making our own yogurt as a way to further reduce household waste. 

Another idea is to contact companies that use excessive or unsustainable packaging and ask they redesign it to be more eco-friendly. The new Tom’s of Maine recyclable toothpaste tube is one example, Tetra Pak cube packaging is another.