I must admit, I would have never guessed that reducing would have been a hobby of mine, but, once I started, I realized that I was good at it, and it felt good too. I hope that what I've done (so far, because it's a work in progress) inspires you on your own path of living a little bit lighter.
1. No buying of gum (especially those plastic blister packs with claims of being natural or not).
2. No buying single-use stuff (although gauze pads and bandages were recently required for a major boo-boo -- I was bothered by the purchase and each day of required use).
4. Cancelled my newspaper subscriptions (I get my news from twitter mostly!).
5. Cancelled my magazine subscriptions (and resist my children's pleas to support their schools by ordering more magazines through fundraisers).
6. Call companies that still send their catalogues to my address to cancel them. Frustratingly, repeat requests are required. I'm looking at you, Restoration Hardware!
7. No purchasing of gift wrap -- reusing what's around, including kids artwork, magazines, catalogues, junk mail or using a reusable bag or a dishcloth, scarf or towels so the wrap is part of the gift.
8. No pop, or drinks in cans (here are eight reasons why).
10. No beverages from disposable cups (bonus: I make tea at home and don't wait in line ups -- plus my counters and appliances weren't cleaned with bleach or other toxins -- so not going into my system, and a Styrofoam cup isn't leaching into my drink ).
11. No takeout containers (I even pass up buying something that I want if I don't have a bag or container with me -- after all, I did start the TakeOutWithOut Campaign).
12. Buying bread and chocolate from the farmers' markets with my own bags -- they love it, and so do I (bonus: they smile, I smile, the whole world smiles...plus my bread bags are pretty awesome and my food bags are made in the USA!).
13. Shopping for produce at the Farmers' Markets, which is incredible for so many reasons, but also means NO pesky stickers on each piece!
14. Returning egg, fruit, berries and veggie containers and cartons to the farmers at the markets for reuse.
15. Using neither paper nor plastic bags and bringing own bags when grocery shopping.
16. Using neither paper nor plastic and bringing own produce bags when shopping for fruits and veggies in stores.
17. Using neither paper nor plastic bags, refusing tissue or stickers and boxes and bringing own bags when shopping for clothes, books, and personal care items.
18. Choosing products that have less packaging, and safer packaging (glass over plastic, just tube over tube AND a box etc.).
19. Carrying my awesome reusable bottles with me everywhere -- usually a Reflect (no paint, NO plastic!) and an insulated bottle to keep my cold drinks cold, and my hot drinks WAY hot no matter how cold it is out).
20. Carrying People Towels for drying my hands, wiping my kids' hands and occasionally using as a carrier/place mat for food too.
21. Wiping my hands on myself and letting my kids wipe their hands on me if I forget my cloths instead of paper towels (it takes a while to get in the habit of remembering to wash them and put them back in your purse!).
23. Asking waiters/hosts at restaurants to not give paper and plastic disposables -- napkins, place mats, straws, cups, ketchup and soy sauce packets (don't get me started on that green plastic sushi grass!).
24. Making my own household cleaners (bonus: no heavy jars and jugs to lug home from the store).
26. Reusing the small amount of plastic bags that end up in my home to share home grown veggies or leftovers with others.
27. Reusing cloths (and old T-shirts too) for cleaning cloths around the house.
28. Buying the largest size product I can (I would shop from bulk bins, but with severe allergies in our family, we cannot take the risk).
29. Walking right by pre-packaged, ready to serve, over-processed foods (bonus: we eat Real Food).
30. Giving our used clothing to charity or even to friends -- and taking theirs too.
33. Printing as little as possible and always using both sides.
34. Taking kids art and remodelling into other art, or making it into gift tags (after taking digital pictures to preserve the memory, of course).
35. Not printing all pictures of my family (no matter how cute they are) and sharing with others electronically.
36. Packing litterless lunches and snacks for my three kids, and husband too -- I work at home, so no packing required (bonus: eating real food from home costs less than junk and takeout, and I'm saving my money, my health, and my time too!).
37. Using organic cloth napkins for all meals, always.
38. Using Berryplus to wash laundry and saving more heat by hanging to dry when the weather allows.
40. Buying less of everything. But buying better quality from ethical and sustainable sources so it lasts longer and I value it more.
41. Remembering to unplug chargers, and refusing to use energy when it's not working for me. (Bonus: lower bills, right lowfoot?)
42. Refusing copies of receipts when possible (thanks Patagonia and other retailers for emailing receipts now).
43. Buying loose leaf teas instead of individual bags -- no string, staples, packet and box! (bonus -- no chlorine bleach or other toxins being steeped into my cup).
44. Constant reconsideration of my habits, knowing that I can always do better.
45. Choosing organic/ethical clothing as much as possible (bonus: reducing chems, formaldehyde, and phthalates coming into my home or my family's bodies).
46. Using unpackaged, or lightly packaged bar soap instead of liquid, except in powder room, for many reasons where I refill a pump from a large container of concentrate. It's not only less packaging, but you can use it all, and nothing is left at the end.
47. Volunteering where I can, to inform, inspire and educate others on reducing.
48. Sharing my refusing and reducing efforts with anyone who will listen (even if they think I'm crazy).
49. Teaching my kids to be proud of their refusing and reducing, and inspire them to share with their friends.
50. Living and working by this African Proverb ~ "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito."
Let's keep the list growing together!
The less stuff you buy, the less stuff you have to throw out -- it's as simple as that.
Upcycle the things you would have normally thrown out. Glass jars, tin cans, and even old clothes can be given new life using these upcycled craft ideas.
If you don't already participate in your city's blue, black, and green bin programs, check out your city's website to find out how to get started.
Instead of packing lunches and snacks in plastic bags, plastic wrap, and foil, purchase products that will make eating on the go litter-less.
Consider cloth diapers for your little one. Cloth diapers do have an upfront cost, but they will pay themselves off many times over.
The hardest thing about using reusable bags is remembering to bring them with you!
Switch out your regular light bulbs for compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. On average, CFLs use 80 per cent less energy than regular incandescent bulbs. When you are ready to dispose of them, be sure to do it properly.
Switch out your toxic household cleaners to those that are safer.
Switch your body care products -- lotions, shampoo, conditioner, makeup -- to safer natural and organic products. Not sure about ingredients or even where to start? Shop at a store that has done the research for you up front and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Purchase products that are plastic-free and have minimal packaging.
Going forward, focus on providing memorable experiences for your children rather than buying them unmemorable things.
Going meatless once a week is great, a few times a week, even better! A few of my favourite vegetarian and vegan food blogs are Oh She Glows, Manifest Vegan, and Veggie Belly.
Turning the water off when you brush your teeth, and doing only full loads of laundry, are just two ways to cut down on water consumption. Here are 98 more.
It's a myth that hot water cleans clothes better. It's not a myth that hot water uses unnecessary energy. Going forward, use cold water, and the only difference you will notice is in your energy bill.
This one may be a bit intimidating, but it's simpler than you may think. The results will provide you with rich dirt for your garden.
If you have the space, plant a vegetable garden this spring. It's a great project to do with the kids, and in the end, the garden will produce healthy fruits and vegetables for your family to enjoy. Don't have the space for a garden? Try an indoor herb garden.
When we teach our kids about the importance of taking care of our earth, the actions and the knowledge will be carried with them all their lives. Use age-appropriate projects and crafts to make it interactive, interesting, and fun.
Ladies, I know. It's intimidating and a little scary, but once you start using the DivaCup each month, you'll wonder why it took you so long. Seriously.
Opt out of your paper bills and subscribe to e-billing.
Support your local economy and your local small business owners -- both online and brick and mortar. Shopping close to home vs. shopping at a big box store that brings their products in from overseas makes a difference when fuel, energy, and time are considered.
Invest in a sturdy, good looking, stainless steel bottle, and ditch the plastic bottles for good.
Did you know that most of your chargers, electronics, and appliances still use energy even though they are not being used? Unplug anything that is not in use to avoid "leaking electricity."
Making a meal plan each week usually leads to healthier choices and less mid-week gas guzzling runs to the store to pick up forgotten items.
You can find e-waste bins at most electronic retailers. Also, check with your city to see if they hold e-waste drop-off days.
By law, Canada Post must deliver all mail addressed to you, but to cut down on the unaddressed junk mail, simply place a sign on your mailbox that says "no junk mail." If you receive your mail in a community mailbox, secure a no junk mail note in your box, so the mail person can see it each time. See the Canada Post website for more info.
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