waste minimization

5 Easy Ways to Minimize Waste in Your Home

There are so many items we use in our everyday lives that, while small, add so much waste to the landfill every year. I’ve found some replacements and hope that you will give these a whirl in your own home!

The Laundry Room
Image result for wool dryer balls
mommypotamus.com will get you crafting!
I’ve been using dryer sheets for years. They make my clothes so soft! However, while there may be several uses for them, I think it’s time to try a new reusable product that I won’t have to throw away week after week, load after load. How about a wool dryer ball? They’re an all-natural (read: no chemicals!) laundry softener that shorten dryer time, remove pet hair and soften fabrics. You can put as many as you want in your dryer depending on size of load and you won’t have to throw them out after one or two uses!

If you’re feeling crafty, you can easily make your own with very few items! Will you try this?

The Vanity
Most ladies use eye makeup remover and whether you use pre-soaked pads or a tissue or cotton ball with a liquid or cream remover, you’re throwing something away every day. S.W. Basics of Brooklyn has solved this issue! They make reusable and washable cotton rounds that come with their own mini laundry bag. For just over $20, you get 8 pads, giving you an extra pad for laundry day and a mesh bag for the pads so you don’t lose them in your washing machine. They’re made from certified organic cotton and they get pretty stellar reviews. The company has estimated that these 8 little pads eliminate about $50 worth of disposable cotton from going to landfill. That’s over 20 bags of cotton balls! How great is that?

The Shower
It's like candy for your body and hair!
Photo source: My Chic Sweetness
All of us go through a few bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash each year. Do you ever wonder how you might reduce this kind of waste, recyclable bottles or not? Lush is a British company that prides itself on having fresh, unpackaged and handmade cosmetics. Their shampoo bars are not only beautiful and wonderfully scented, but just one will last for about 80 shampoos!! They have solid conditioning bars and beautiful and moisturizing soaps, too. Go to a store near you and see what all the fuss is about. The little to no packaging as well as the freshness of all ingredients used will be hard to pass up.

The Floors
Do you love your Swiffer? I thought you might. They’re pretty great and so easy to use. Those disposable pads on the bottom pose a problem, though. Like makeup remover pads and dryer sheets, they add up and fill your trash. I have an easy solution for you, though. Buy a reusable and washable microfiber pad instead of box after box of disposable wipes. They work just as well and rinse super easily; plus, they can go right in the washing machine when they get extra dirty.

The Kitchen
Stop storing items in Ziploc bags and Saran wrap. These are some of the most wasteful items partly because you can’t even recycle them. Instead use glass containers with lids; they’re durable, washable and come in every size. If you still want a sandwich bag for your PB&J sandwich or your toiletries when you travel, consider buying some from Blue Avocado instead! They, too, are reusable and washable. Plus, they’re pretty cute and versatile!

My verdict: I’m definitely making the switch to these items! Will you? What’s your favorite reusable item you use in your everyday life?

Growing Green Kids

For a long time, we've been a "disposable" society. We use things for a brief time and throw them out; we don't pay attention to how much energy is consumed at our homes or offices. Conserving and cutting down on waste now seems like a chore or extra work and we don't even realize that these practices are actually more expensive for us, let alone far worse for our planet!

We've been wasteful for so long, that movements now exist revolving around raising green kids and instilling conservation values and practices in our children at a young age. We need to teach them quality over quantity and reduce reuse recycle.

At first, I thought this seemed silly. Why did we need a movement to raise green kids? However, I had already grown up as a green kid and didn't realize the extent of our throw-away society. My parents recycled, composted and were adamant about conserving energy. I grew up thinking it was normal and something everyone just did. I hated landfills and didn't understand why we would add to the smelly, toxic monstrosities. My sister and I were always told to turn the water off when we brushed our teeth. Even though we lived in upstate New York, our house was and still is kept at 63 degrees in the dead of winter; we were told to just layer up in the house and on our walk to school. When I'm home now, my dad still shuts the light off in my room even if I've hopped across the hall to the bathroom for ten seconds or less.

This guys looks like he's tough on waste!
Photo Source: purecostumes.com
Then, I remembered my surprise when I went to my fiancé's hometown for the first time in 2012 and learned that the city was just beginning to hand out flyers about their new free recycling program. Yes! To recycle before late 2012, you had to pay and that's never the way to motivate people to "do more work". What stunned me even more is this city is Columbus, OH, the country's 15th largest city! This was not a small town without resources for a free recycling program. Maybe this green kid movement wasn't so silly after all.

As we have figured out the importance and the benefits of conservation and recycling, there is a push to reevaluate our buying and disposing practices. Growing green kids has to be done! We need superheroes who will fight for our future! This does not mean your child can't have fun decorations or activities at their birthday parties or exciting toys to play with, it just means you can and should get creative! Your kids will love making things themselves, too, and everything will be much more original and valuable.

Changing our society to one that protects our environment and our wallets is now a priority. We'll be healthier, happier, more prosperous and more creative. What's not to love about that?

How are you raising your green kid (or your green self)?

Get Your RecycleMania On!

I remember hearing about RecycleMania when I was in college. Even though my school always had a green mindset, we didn’t join the RecycleMania tournament until 2008 or 2009 and while the school is doing wonders with waste minimization, there is a long way to go in other areas.

Photo Source: recyclemaniastore.com
RecycleMania is a competition among colleges and universities geared towards reducing waste and expanding recycling and composting programs. The participating schools measure and report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week for eight weeks. This competition has taken place each Spring since its launch in 2001 and it has the following goals (taken from the RecycleMania website):
  • Motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation
  • Generate attention and support for campus recycling programs
  • Encourage colleagues to measure and benchmark recycling activity in their effort to improve their programs over time
  • Have a fair and friendly competition

Unfortunately, many of us – including myself at times – don’t know what can be recycled and what cannot. In addition, many cities, including college towns, don’t take certain recyclable items nor do they educate the public on what they do recycle. The RecycleMania program allows millions of students each year to learn about recycling and take the information back to their hometowns. It can also inspire a town or community to expand its recycling programs or start one if one doesn’t already exist.

Photo Source: blog.technet.com
Over 700 colleges and universities have participated in RecycleMania and over the years have prevented the release of so much carbon dioxide, it equates to take 7 million – that’s right, seven MILLION – cars off the road for a year. This program continues to gain momentum and has even motivated my own college to become carbon neutral by 2035.

If you are a college student, a faculty member or a staff member at a college or university, look into RecycleMania for your campus! You get national recognition if your campus wins and you get to help your school save the planet! One bin of recycling at a time. How cool is that?