I know it may be cliche to write about being “eco friendly” this time of year, but it is something our household has been passionate about for years. It seemed fitting to talk about it right now, but trust me when I say I could talk about it any day!
Reflecting back on when Rob and I started to make a conscious effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle, a lot of it started with research and reading. Anything that taught us ways to live for the environment we gravitated toward (and still do). Does anyone remember the Planet Green channel? In 2010 it was rebranded, but before that it had everything! It was Food Network, TLC, and HGTV all wrapped up into one happy eco channel. I miss it dearly.
Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.
Wa$ted was a great show where Annabelle Gurwitch schooled families and businesses on how changing their waste habits not only positively affects the environment, but that there is a cost savings to changing habits. Yes, it was a typical reality show, but there were learning opportunities amongst the drama.
Renovation Nation was another favorite as it was all about building and renovating green. Everything from collecting rain water to building homes from shipping containers. I could go on about my love for these types of shows, but I digress.
As we approach Earth Day 2021, I reflect on what our house does and what we can change. I’d love to share some of the things we do as a family (all year round) in hopes of helping others realize that small changes can make a big impact. Here are my top 10 eco habits that not only help the environment, but the wallet (more tips and explanations in the podcast):
- Rain Barrels. Who doesn’t love free water? We can water our garden for most of the summer from our two rain barrels. During the inevitable midsummer drought, we have a timer and a soaker hose ready to go so that we waste as little water as possible.
- Recycle plastic bags/use reusable bags. We didn’t have the option when the pandemic started to use our cloth bags. As an avid reusable bag user, it pained my heart. However, plastic bags can be recycled and turned into many things, like benches! Produce bags produce a lot of unnecessary plastic in a shopping trip. I love reusable produce bags.
- Reusable food bags/storage. We’ve invested in reusable sandwich bags and containers rather than use plastic bags. Some of our favorites are Stasher bags!
- Hang clothes outside. It’s not as tedious as you think, and I have to tell you I love it. In WI we get a good six months of hanging clothes outside, though I know some that do it through the winter! Not only does the sun help remove stains and smells, it can save you at least $5/mo
- Wash clothes in cold water. I know that doesn’t sound appealing to some, but almost 75% of the energy used in a load of wash is to heat the water! I promise your clothes will still come out clean if you use cold water. Not only that, but you can save at least $60/year.
- Vinegar and baking soda. Separately and together, they clean everything! We use vinegar as a fabric softener. Baking soda helps remove stains on everything from clothes to pans. Baking soda and vinegar together clean our sinks, drains, and toilets. My favorite is slightly warmed vinegar with dish soap (1:1 ratio) to clean the shower! I never scrub anymore!
- Buy second hand. I’m frugal to begin with, so shopping second hand is second nature to me. Almost my entire wardrobe is from thrift stores. It makes even more sense for kids because they grow out of everything in a week! In a future post I will show some of the repurposing projects I’ve done. Rather than buy new, we recycle and repurpose. Our TV stand used to be a dresser. These projects are what keep me sane, creative, and happy knowing it didn’t make its way to a landfill.
- Check your car’s eco ratings. When we are in the market for a new vehicle, I live on fueleconomy.gov! It lets you compare cars, calculate cost to fill the tank, safety ratings, and tells you if you will save or spend on fuel annually compared to the average.
- Skip the straw! Did you know you can recycle your straws? I admit I didn’t know that for a long time. If you use a straw, recycle it, but we’ve completely switched over to stainless steel and bamboo straws. The kids love the stainless steel because it makes their smoothies feel colder as they are drinking.I just discovered they make boba straws not too! It’s already in my cart because we love bubble tea, but a regular straw won’t cut it.
- Meal Prepping. I know that doesn’t sound like something that is earth friendly, but it absolutely is! Forty percent of food in the US is wasted annually. That’s over $162 billion! Not only is it a cost savings, but less food waste helps all around. Many think it is time consuming, but I have to tell you, we save so much time and money during the week by planning on Friday morning before grocery shopping. I don’t know about you, but I cringe at the “what should we eat for dinner” question. It takes the thought out of it all. Do you meal plan?
I could talk about this topic all day! It was hard to narrow down the list to ten things. I would love to learn what tips and things do you do to reduce waste or improve the environment. Please share in the comments!
I hope this list gives you at least one idea of a small change that you can make in your life that helps the environment and your wallet.