05/15/2013 05:28 EDT | Updated 07/15/2013 05:12 EDT

50 Simple Things I Do To Reduce

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.

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Residential mailbox stuffed with marketing mailing packages even having a No Junk Mail sign

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).

3. Stopped my junk mail (here's a link to Practically Green, where you can stop your unwanted catalogues as well as find resources to stop all that other junk).

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).

9. No water in plastic bottles -- that includes vitamin waters, herbal waters and other bottled water pretending to be better than bottled water (keeping our hormones undisrupted).

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 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!).

22. Carrying a Hankybook for wiping/blowing my nose. I know, you think that's gross. It's not as gross as what you are doing with tissues. Trust me.

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).

25. Using Tooth Soap or Shec's to brush my teeth -- no tube, no triclosan.

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.

31. Offering products we no longer need to friends -- try listing on Craigslist, or Freecycle if no one I know wants it.

32. Using Strawesome Glass Straws instead of plastic ones (bonus: an incredibly awesome woman makes them and is as excited about you using them as you are with each sip!).

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.

39. No fabric softener sheets -- we use BaaLLS -- I created this product and they last for years! (bonus: they are handmade with 100 per cent organic wool, so no toxic chems).

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!

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