I have been reading alot lately about the damage that we are doing to our childrens' planet and frankly it makes me sad. Sad because it is so selfish. Sad because it is so ugly. And sad because the odds of everyone doing their part to make a difference are so slim as to be nearly non-existent.
Having said that, I personally am going to try to do my part. Slowly but surely we will get our family there, if not the world.
A couple of weeks ago I made my first move in this direction by getting a bunch of reusable tote bags to use for shopping. I am proud to say that, in the last month I have only introduced 2 plastic bags into the house. I try to remember to bring at least one of my reusable totes with me anywhere I go, but as with all new behaviors, sometimes I forget.
The next item I tackled was to reduce the amount of garbage going out by eliminating paper plates and napkins from our daily lives. I have had cloth napkins since long before I even met my husband. And when we were first together, we used them. Then we had children, and as any parent knows a small child requires multiple napkins for a meal. Our children were no different...although perhaps our son was a bit extreme - that boy wiped his face and tongue after every.single.bite. and he couldn't stand to have anything saucy or sticky or even wet on his hands...so he would go through literally a dozen napkins in a sitting. Paper quickly became a more practical or at least convenient alternative. Fast forward 6 years, and our children are big enough to use a napkin properly and aside from the occasional spill, only require 1 to get through a meal tidily. So I pulled out all of the old cloth napkins and we haven't looked back since. We now use washable plates for each meal as well. While we have to run the dishwasher a bit more frequently, we are throwing away much less. And in response to the increased usage of the dishwasher we are no longer using the heat dry cycle.
Something about doing the right thing is sort of addictive, because my next target was the excess packaging that I was bringing into the house weekly in the name of portion control for my children. They love those little jello and pudding cups. As I was putting them away one day it occurred to me that I had a bunch of small tupperware containers with lids that were about that size. So I traded in the $3.00 6-packs for $.59 boxes of jello and pudding mix and now make my own. As an added bonus the kids love the expanded selection that they get and enjoy being able to help make their own snacks.
The kids and I also got together and planted a pretty ambitious vegetable garden this year. Last year was the first time that I had ever had a garden and I was delighted with how easy it was and how big our bounty was. We had potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, peppers and green beans. Lots of them. We gave most of it away, and froze what we could, but it felt good and was so yummy to eat foods that we had grown ourselves. The kids loved being able to harvest food and learned alot about the growth cycle of plants. This year we dropped the potatoes and added corn, peas, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli. So far everything is sprouting and, if we can just find a way to keep the bunnies at bay, we should be able to get a good way through the summer and fall months without having to buy any veggies.
My next goal is to start using less gas for in town travels. We live literally a quarter mile from our grocery store and 1 mile from my daughter's preschool. We all have bicycles. We are all healthy people. So why are we always piling into our car to go a distance that doesn't even allow for a single song to play out on the cd player? I have one of those kid trailers for the bike and the more I think about it, the more it seems like I should just use it to bring my daughter to and from school. And while I am at it, I could probably stop at the grocery store and put the groceries in it on the way home. I say probably to all of this because I haven't tackled this one yet, but I plan to. Soon.
Baby steps, they are each small and won't be enough to swing the fate of our planet on their own, but they certainly can't hurt. So what things has your family done to reduce the refuse? I'd love to hear some more ideas.