I am thrilled with all of the goals my 6 wonderful families have come up with to work on reducing waste! This is a consolidated list of things they are all working on – and tips for making it easy.
Gear up for litterless lunches.
- Making your own treats and snacks is a great way to go because you can use your own containers or reusable snack bags. Of course it’s impossible to make absolutely everything from scratch, so consider things like buying in bulk or in larger containers and then splitting these up into your own containers or reusable bags.
- When purchasing new containers – consider going with glass or stainless steel. Even BPA-free plastic containers aren’t ideal in terms of the possibility of chemicals leaching into your food.
- Have a set of reusable cutlery in your lunchbag. I keep my daughter’s in a reusable snack bag. If you’re packing a disposable container of yogurt or pudding, instead of throwing it in the garbage, you can put it in that same reusable snack bag to take home, wash and recycle it.
- If you like the feel of wrapped sandwiches, try natural food wraps! These washable wraps have beeswax in them to make them easily formable to whatever you need – wrapping sandwiches, covering bowls, wrapping the end of a cucumber. Wherever you’d consider using cling wrap, you can use food wraps. Perfect for lunches and in the kitchen.
Use reusable bags and washable produce bags at the grocery store or farmers market.
Invest in a few reusable washable produce bags and store them in the purse or bag you usually take to the store or market. If that is their permanent home, you’re less likely to forget to bring them along when you go out. Same thing with reusable bags for storing groceries – I find that keeping them in the trunk of my car helps a lot.
Improve your knowledge about what to recycle, and consider ideas for repurposing.
- Put a cheat sheet about what can go in recycling on your fridge, so you always have a reference. (If you’re in Edmonton, you can download one here.)
- Terracycle recycles all kinds of things that you would normally throw in the garbage. They have different “Brigades” with public drop off points (you can select a brigade on their site and find a drop off spot near you). If you’re in the Edmonton area, you can drop off air and home car products, and cereal bags at the Edmonton Valley Zoo and your donation helps support animal conservation!
- Repurpose yogurt containers instead of recycling them: give them to a teacher to use in the classroom for storage or crafts, use them as storage bins for small toys, beads, buttons, etc, use them as plant containers (poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage), store home-made playdough. Ideas for toilet paper rolls include crafts, sorting items in a drawer, seed starter pots, and DIY bird feeders. You can also put toilet paper rolls or other bits of cardboard into your compost.
Use a reusable water bottle or coffee mug.
This is a small change with a big impact! Think about how much you’re keeping out of the garbage or recycling by just doing this for a few days. Again, as with food storage, try to pick glass or stainless steel for your reusable vessels. This Thermos Leak Proof Stainless Steel Straw Bottle is my favourite for kids.
Use cloth “paper towels” instead of disposable ones.
There are also a lot of people out there making or selling “cloth paper towels” that velcro, button, or zip together so that it can be like a paper towel roll. I have made some DIY unpaper towels myself. If you don’t want to DIY, there are lots of options out there! Here are a couple I came across on Amazon:
Reduce food waste.
- Use a meal planning tool like The Fresh 20. I like it because the 5 weeknight dinner recipes I get are all based on the same pool of ingredients, along with the list of staples that you always keep on hand. That way I don’t go and buy something specifically for one recipe and then have nothing else to use it in. I’ve found that using the meal plan for a good length of time helped me to develop my cooking and planning skills so that even if I’m not using it anymore, I waste much less food than I used to.
- Keep a running list of what you need to use up in the fridge – on a whiteboard on your fridge door. This is a tip from one of my families, and it’s a great one! Instead of opening the door and trying to figure out what you have to work with, make notes on the outside of your fridge.
What are some of your tips for reducing waste?
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