Updated: Apr 14, 2021
I hope everyone is doing well and still on track with their New Year’s Resolutions… I know I kind of fell off the wagon in February when my oldest has a COVID exposure in his classroom (we luckily didn’t catch it!), an unprecedented snowstorm in Texas and just general life curveballs. I had goals for each month that were thematic and all of February got pushed to March, and March to April. Now that we've hit April, I think about Earth Day and ways to be sustainable in my life. I won’t ever be perfect and probably will never be zero waste, but I love to try new ways to be sustainable. So, here’s my compilation of things I am doing in 2021 and things I’m planning on doing in an attempt to being more sustainable.
Things I’ve done:
1. Became a member of the Library. I have a very bad habit of buying new books. According to my husband, we have WAY too many books… I disagree, but alas, there are definitely better ways to acquire books over buying them new. I joined the San Antonio Public Library and have started renting books that I’m interested in reading. This is twofold: it also reduces clutter in my home because now I read the books and return them and therefore, I’m not housing as many books in my home. Other ways to reduce book waste to buy second hand. Bonus is that many bookstores have a used book section, and you can also sell books to them that you aren’t using anymore for credit. I was able to bring in some books to Books A Million for sale and was able to get a small gift card that I could use to buy another book (or coffee…. because they have a coffee shop…) Either way, there are plenty of opportunities to reduce the number of new books you buy, whether you join a library, buy used, get them on a kindle or other digital reading device, or start listening to them as audio books, it’s an easy way to make an impact on the environment!
2. Reducing single use plastic sandwich bags. During a lucrative Black Friday sale last year, I snagged a decent set of Stashers reusable bags. They seal very well, have a variety of colors and sizes, and hold up well in backpacks. They’re also dishwasher safe, so super easy to clean. We’ve been using them for snacks while hiking, at the park, etc. and they’re easy enough for my 3&5 YO to open and close. I’ve been trying to reduce the number of gallon and sandwich bags we have, and these seem to do the trick. We aren’t quite at a 100% transition, but I feel better about using the Stashers.
(snacks packed from our recent hike!)
3. Recycle as much as I can. So technically this isn’t new. We’ve been recycling since I was teenager and lived in Belgium. My husband and I went to college in a very environmentally conscious university, so we had many opportunities to explore recycling even in dorms. Since moving around, we make it a point to find a local recycling center to bring items to if we don’t have recycling services. I’ve found that most places offer recycling, but many won’t take glass, so we usually look for a place that does and go every other month. In case you’re curious about what can be recycled versus what can’t, there’s a great article you can read here: https://www.ecoscraps.com/blogs/sustainable-living/76411652-a-simple-list-of-what-can-and-cannot-be-recycled
4. Join a local Buy Nothing group. This is probably my new favorite find. There are tons of Facebook Buy Nothing groups for neighborhoods to promote a buy nothing lifestyle. The rules are pretty simple, you have to live in the neighborhood, and it is absolutely no sales. People offer up items that they no longer want or need for free, and others can request them. In my group, I was able to score some baby clothes, paper, and even borrowed Cat in the Hat hats for Dr. Suess week! (Versus buying our own to only use a couple of times). In return, I’ve given craft supplies, a steam mop we weren’t using, k cups (because I don’t even own a Kuerig anymore), and some cookies that we didn’t like. The benefit is that you can usually offer up stuff that you wouldn’t be able to donate – like an open box of cookies, because people know where it’s coming from. This also helps with food waste, which is also something I want to work on. If you’re interested in learning more, here is the Buy Nothing website: https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/
(baby clothes and purse I was gifted)
Up next on the Deck:
1. Shop secondhand clothes. I plan on making a trip to my local thrift shop to see if I can find clothes for my kiddos. Although my goal isn’t 100%, I would like to start adding some secondhand items to their closets when possible. Kids go through clothes so fast, and sometimes you can find some really great pieces secondhand! I’m also a huge fan of hand me downs, but I found it’s harder to find them as kids get older. People were throwing clothes at me when I was pregnant for everything between NB-2T, but now that my boys are older, it’s a lot less common. I tend to save most of Oliver’s clothes for Otto, but sometimes I end up buying them both new clothes because they love to match!
2. Growing some of our own produce. We bought some starter plants & seed packs to grow some of our own food. It’s all in pots in my front yard, and both my boys and some neighborhood boys helped me plant it. They all love coming by and checking out the progress of their seeds. We bought pre grown tomatoes, strawberries, red peppers, banana pepper and jalapenos. Then we planted green beans, carrots, zucchini, and Mexican Sunflowers from seed. I’m excited to see what grows and if we get anything this year! Growing your own food is a good way to reduce pesticides going into the Earth, as well as reduce the fossil fuels used to transport food to the grocery store.
3. Reducing food waste. This is something I really need to work on. I plan on using my planner meal planning sheets (https://e3a75fcf-2194-48d3-af81-8140b02865bf.filesusr.com/ugd/87296e_3e5fd6ba2bcc42e4b0f84b3ee407880c.pdf ), to make a more detailed list of food for the week for the family and ensure that we completely use up specialty items. I plan on also reducing the amount we eat out, to hopefully reduce both food waste and trash waste. I’m also trying to figure out the best way to meal prep before baby gets here without using too many single use items like aluminum trays and sandwich bags – send any tips if you have them!
I can’t wait to update you on my sustainable adventure later this year – specifically in way of our garden! Are you also working on being more sustainable? Tell us below!