My name is Lindsey Roush; my family and I recently started on a zero waste journey. We, as a family, are learning and making slow but steady changes in our household to be more mindful of the products we choose. Earth Day is April 22nd and now is the perfect time to start looking at what you use and to start fresh with a green slate. Here are my top five tips to help reduce the rubbish.
Our first easy and small switch was our toothbrushes, from the typical plastic brush to a bamboo toothbrush. Almost 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes make it to the landfill every year. All of that plastic will then take over 1,000 years to decompose! Can you believe that? Every toothbrush you have ever used is still on this earth. We made the switch to bamboo and we aren’t going back! The brush feels great on my teeth and my husband has made the same comment, though I did get some grief from my girls for not purchasing cool character brushes. One of them, I believe, said, “Why are we using this weird wood toothbrush?” After explaining the benefits and using them for over a year, I haven’t had any more complaints, plus most brands have colored bristles for a fun incentive for kids. The bamboo toothbrushes have great upcycling options once you are finished or either compost the handle or throw them in the trash and they will decompose in the landfill.
2. I have never been a fan of using foil or plastic wrap. The feel of aluminum foil gives me the heebie-jeebies, and plastic wrap is one of the most frustrating kitchen tools. Once we ran out of the two, we said, "see-ya" and never looked back. Plastic is not recyclable and when thrown away, like most plastics, will take hundreds of years to decompose. Foil will not decompose but is recyclable, though recycling can be very tricky. Most places you would take aluminum cans will not accept foil, especially if it's a food product, so you would need to look into your local recycling options. BUT wait, I have easier and safer options. We started using beeswax sheets for most food coverings. I really love these and find them to be pretty comparable to cling wrap. They wash with just soap and cold water and once they outlive their use, throw them in your compost pile. I make a lot of homemade pizza dough and bread and have had great success with the cling. Another great non-plastic option I love is silicone cling lids or fabric bowl covers. They are both super versatile and fit almost any kitchen dish. The only time we use foil is for covering a dish in the oven or on the grill. My very simple solution to this is when needing foil for the oven, simply place a baking sheet over your dish, bottom up, and it works perfectly as a heat guard! Then we switched to a grill basket for our veggies in the grill.
3. My daughter recently started taking her lunch to school and I quickly noticed how many plastic baggies we were going through. It was endless amounts of one time use bags and I really needed a better solution. We purchased the Stasher silicone bags and wow what a great product! With so many sizes available, they are perfect for lots of storage beyond school lunches. Stasher bags claim to last a lifetime and are dishwasher safe, which is my favorite part.
4. When you shop for produce, do you put everything into its own plastic bag or let them roam freely in the cart? I was an avid bag user, keeping everything nice and neat in my cart. Me being totally clueless, I didn't realize that there was another option until I came across reusable produce bags. They are durable netted bags that are see through enough for your cashier and breathable for your produce. If you are an avid produce bagger like me, these are a must!
5. Did you know glass can take 1,000 to a million years to decompose in a landfill? That eye opening fact is what got me started on my zero waste journey. Before that, I had done curbside recycling which was relatively new in our area but never thought twice about glass. I actually didn't think I used that much to make a difference, but now, we fill a very large trash can full about every three months. The best part is the local company that collects the glass and breaks it down into cullet which is then made into insulation. The company gives an insulation donation to communities that participate, and our local Habitat for Humanity has been our usual recipient. I love when a simple change can make a big impact.
Thanks for reading and special thanks to Lindsey for sharing all these easy ways to start making small changes that have a big impact… just in time for Earth Day!
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