How big is your footprint?

I read a post from TreeHugger on Facebook today on reducing the amount of plastic we use and it got me thinking about what we do to try to be more environmentally friendly.  I’m happy to say that where we live we have a great curbside recycling program.  Paper/cardboard/plastic/metals/compost.  There’s not a very big list of what we can’t recycle or compost and it leads to us not having very much garbage at all.  I know we can still reduce that as we produce more of our own food but for now we’re down to only one garbage bag per week.

Here are just 5 ways we try to do our part.

Cloth Napkins   We stopped using paper towel and paper napkins at home quite a while ago.  I have a huge stack of cloth napkins and they can just be thrown in the washer with a load of towels so that we aren’t doing a separate wash.  I have gotten them as gifts, made some myself, found lots at yard sales/flea markets, and gotten some as hand me downs.  They are super easy to make from fabrics you have lying around the house or maybe even from an old sheet, shirt, or pillow case.

Cloth Bread Bags/Bread Box I love making bread and I used to use a lot of plastic bags to keep that bread in.  Now I use a bread box and bags aren’t required for that at all. A properly designed bread box will allow enough air to pass through to keep the bread from going moldy but not enough to dry it out as if it was left out on the counter.  If you’re like my mom and you give bread to friends and family, try using cloth bags.  It keeps the bread clean and works similar to the bread box.  No airtight bags promoting mold growth.  People are always happy to give the bags back to be reused again.  If you are using cloth bread bags just make sure you don’t wash them in a smelly detergent and don’t use fabric softener.  No one wants their beautiful bread smelling like “crisp morning air” or tasting like chemicals.

Cheesecloth One of the reasons I liked keeping paper towel in the house was for times when we cooked bacon.  I would lay out sheets of it to absorb grease when the bacon came off the pan. In order to eliminate this I tried several things but nothing would absorb the grease well enough for me.  Then I spotted some cheesecloth in the pantry and decided to give it a try.  Worked like a charm!   When I was done I would rinse it in hot soapy water in the sink to get most of the grease out and  then throw it in the laundry.  I have several of these pieces of cheesecloth dedicated to this so when they are washed I fold them and put them in a kitchen drawer until the next time I need them.  Again, no smelly soaps or fabric softener.

Reusable Shopping Bags  As much as people like to think about being environmentally friendly there are still a lot who don’t have reusable shopping bags.  Most of the comments I’ve heard are about convenience but for me the “hassle” of bring bags far outweighs the hassle of trying to find space in recycling or storing plastic bags for something else later on.    I also have less issues with broken items than if i was using flimsy plastic.  Reusable bags don’t just have to be ones you buy from a store either.  I have lots of those, but I also have cloth bags that I’ve made (good for packing meat or messy items because you can throw them in the washer) and I have some that I’ve made from the feed bags we get.

Thrift Store Shopping/Buying Used  I love the thrift stores.  Not only can I save money and find things that a lot of the times still have original price tags on, but I’m helping keep things out of the landfill.  I’ve said before that my parents are great at reusing items and re purposing things and this i something that I’ve taken to heart.  Lots of my furniture has been used, most of my wardrobe is from one thrift store or another, our kids know that they can get much more from the back to school budget if we buy second hand, and when you reuse/re purpose you end up with an interesting style that you probably won’t find anywhere else.

I hope that’s given you something to think about today.  As I come up with more recycling/reusing ideas or find things around the house that are recycle/reuse items I’ll post that for you all to see.

Have a beautiful day.

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