Over the last year or so, our family has been doing our part to change the way we reuse, reduce and recycle around our house. Here's a list I put together of the conscious changes we are making to keep what we can out of the landfills.
We’ve been using the Refillery to refill our bottles instead of buying new items in new plastic bottles. Refills include body wash, hand soap, dish soap and dishwasher detergent (which is the only item I haven’t been too happy with, to be honest). We’ve also been using bar soap and I started using a bar of shampoo from Lush. I’ve had it for at least 6 months now and it’s still not even half gone!
2. Home Made Body Products
I’ve been making my own foaming hand soap for a while now, though the castile mix is not my favourite. Still, it's a nourishing soap for our hands given the number of times we wash them every day! I make this soap from approximately ¼ cup of castile soap, a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin and some essential oils topped with water. We add this mixture to glass foaming hand soap dispensers I bought off of Amazon. Alternatively, I use 1/4 cup of our regular liquid hand soap and fill the rest of the dispenser with water, which makes a great foaming hand soap and uses so much less product!
I’ve also been making moisturizer for myself and the kids out of coconut oil (I knew that HUGE tub you can get at Costco would come in handy). I add other carrier oils such as avocado oil, which I prefer, and even olive oil, which was recommended by our naturopath.
Home Made Moisturizer in a Reusable Jar
Ingredients for Foaming Hand Soap with Castile Soap Base
3. Reusable Bags
We’ve been using our own reusable produce and grocery bags for years, as well as other bags for general shopping. It feels good to be able to say “no thanks” to bringing more plastic bags, or any plastic items, into our home. Even though plastic bottles that hold things like shampoo and dish soap are recyclable, a majority of those items are still ending up in landfills. There just aren’t enough resources to deal with the copious amounts of plastics there are coming through the depots!
4. Reusable Antibacterial Cleaning Products
We’ve also been using cleaning products from Norwex for a very long time. Norwex uses special fabrics that use only water for antibacterial cleaning and are made from recycled products. We use them for dusting, cleaning our floors, windows, counters, stainless steel appliances and stove top, to name a few. Their odour eliminator and bathroom cleaners are concentrated, so you get more uses out of a regular sized bottle.
I also just learned that my friend Aubri (you can read my interview with her here if you haven't already) is a Norwex consultant! If you are interested in learning more about their products, let me know and I'll put you in touch.
5. Composting and Gardening
Our city has a compost program that we've used since moving in. We’ve been growing a little garden in the community garden plot for a couple of years and can see the difference in our contribution to the landfill. We typically have one bag of garbage around once every two weeks. And that sure feels good!
6. Planet-Friendly Toothbrushes
We have slowly been changing our habits from using plastic toothbrushes and regular floss to bamboo toothbrushes and silk floss that comes in a small mason jar instead of a plastic container. It’s small changes like these that make me feel good about decreasing our impact on the environment. Now I just have to figure out how to properly dispose of/compost those toothbrushes.
7. Conscious Shopping
Where possible, I avoid buying items that come in plastic. I buy things like spinach and other greens and hand wash and dry them, storing them in reusable containers with paper towel to remove moisture. I plan on trying to grow some spinach this year in the garden, so that will cut down on waste, too! We try to shop at the local farmer’s market, when possible, though it’s up in the air what that will look like this season.
As far as clothing and other shopping is concerned, I’m still working on it. I try to repair/mend clothes where possible, and Maverick has worn mostly hand-me-downs up until this point. For myself, I have been buying less while I save for items from shops that may be pricier, but are made locally and tend to be better quality.
8. To-Go Coffee Mugs
At the beginning of the year, I promised myself that I was going to stop using disposable coffee mugs, as there is truly no reason for them. Where possible, I stopped for a coffee and took the time to drink it in the coffee shop. Sometimes I enjoyed a cup while the kids played nearby, or by myself when I could stop to write or enjoy a good book. Other than that, I did not allow myself the treat of a coffee unless I had my travel mug for a refill. I hope that one day I’ll be able to bring my mug in for a nice vanilla latte, my favourite treat, one day soon.
Brad bought us reusable Booster Juice Cups before all of these restrictions were put in place. I wasn't sure about them, since they are plastic cups with plastic straws, but at least we are avoiding disposable cups and straws every time we go for smoothies.
Coffee with my littlest love, who was clearly more interested in something else.
9. And the Rest
Other earth friendly options we're making include:
- Using beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap;
- Reusable containers (if you have some that you can recommend, I'd love to hear about them! We've been using glass, which isn't that feasible for long term use with kids if you know what I mean);
- Reusable metal straws;
- Compostable garbage bags;
- Reusable cloth napkins; and
- Personal reusable water bottles.
With the recent measures in place with distant shopping, let’s call it, it’s been harder to ensure we aren’t using plastic produce bags and disposable coffee cups. But as we can see, there are some ways this pandemic is having a positive effect on our earth. There are less cars polluting the air and less coffee cups since most coffee shops have, sadly, closed.
The steps we take in doing our part for the environment change, just like anything in life. This is a season where we need to be more cautious as far as ourselves and personal items are concerned. It’s a time to embrace our family and well-being and accept that it’s not healthy right now to take our own items into stores for use. Knowing that it won’t last forever makes me feel better about some of the waste we’re producing. There's only so much that's in our control, afterall.
Tell me, are there any changes you’ve made in your home that aren’t on my list? I’d love to hear them! Since starting on this task of producing less waste, I’ve come across a lot of tips and tricks. The main thing I have learned is that making small changes is more important than making all the changes. If everyone chose one thing at a time, the world would slowly see less waste. Then, when we’re able to do more, we will be consistently contributing to improving our world’s future. For ourselves, our kids and all of the generations to follow.