As 2020 is coming to a close and we are racing to start a New Year, one hopefully with fewer challenges, and more joy, I wanted to share a few ideas on ways to reduce waste and save money. These ideas aren't Earth-shattering nor are they new ideas but they are ones that we may have forgotten or taken for granted.
When I was watching a PBS special called Plastic Wars I learned of a gentleman by the name of Sir David Attenborough. He had a simple message, it wasn't about never using plastic or single-use items it was simply about not wasting. His message was emotional and he cares so much for the environment that he took his message to Instagram. In just a few short hours he had over 1 million followers.
If we don’t take care of the planet, it’s not going to take care of us. I watched a brief interview of him, expecting to hear the same jargon, but I was very surprised by what I heard and it made a lot of sense.
The biggest thing you can do to make a change right now is to not waste.
If you use something wisely, sparingly, and completely, it will be less likely that you find yourself in need of anything.
There are many ways we can reduce waste in our lives and save money but first, we need to take an honest look at how we live, and how we use the resources available to us. The following ideas are some of the areas that I’ve noticed in my own life. So without any further ado about nothing, I will get started on ways you can reduce waste and save money in everyday living.
Using cruise control – For years I had a 30-mile commute each way to work. Luckily it was mostly highway and interstate driving. I realized that if I were to utilize my cruise control as much as possible I added a day or so between fueling up. I estimated that using cruise control saved about 1-2 gallons of fuel per tank (per week) which saved me about $200 a year, depending on the price of gas. Using cruise control can also help reduce wear and tear on your vehicle and make for a smoother less stressful ride.
Seek out stores that truly are making an effort to reduce single-use items like Marley’s Monsters and hello! Bulk Markets. Marley’s Monsters has a lot of great ideas and products to replace single-use items that are handmade and high quality. Hello! Bulk Markets offers a service where you bring your own bags, jars, and containers to restock on your favorite foods. Check your local listings and see what’s available or check online for great other great options.
Every store has them, most of us have used them, those plastic grocery produce bags. There are alternatives to using plastic produce bags, such as these mesh produce bags. But I have been in the store and either forgot to bring mine or during COVID some stores won’t allow outside bags, so I used the plastic bag offered by the store. Most items I will skip bagging altogether with the exception of leafy lettuce. There’s something about the thought of that head of lettuce rolling around the cart and getting stuffed in a grocery bag that bugs me. The point is, many of these produce plastic bags are pretty durable and can be used multiple times. Consider taking them with you the next time you go to the store and reuse them.
If you have ever seen the movie Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson, there is a part where he is compelled to buy the book “The Catcher in the Rye,” well, I am that way with celery. Yes, you read that right, celery. I seem to not be able to make it through one weekend of shopping without buying more celery regardless of whether or not I need it. Family! We’re having celery for dinner tonight. When I make a plan before going to the store by planning my meals, I know exactly what I need and can avoid adding another celery stalk to my collection. By planning your meals and making a good list you can reduce the amount of food that may spoil and get tossed.
Our trash is collected weekly, along with our compost, but recycling is every other week. For our family of three, we don’t generate enough trash to fill our trashcan weekly so I put our trash and compost out every other week along with our recycle bin. This may not be advisable during the hot summer months, trash can start smelling a bit ripe in the hot weather, but during the colder months, it works well. I hope that taking a stop from the collection route helps save energy.
These are just a few tips that help us save a little time, energy, and money while reducing our waste. They are small and simple steps that can have an impact if enough people contribute. We aren't going to save the environment alone, it's going to be a group effort.