*Video credit to Plastic Pollution Coalition, narrated by Jeff Bridges
Earth Day has got to be one of my most favorite non-holidays, except for Fridays (just kidding, I’m a mom)! It advocates community and generates awareness on keeping our planet clean for generations to come. Saving the planet isn’t just for hippies anymore! Organizations and actors have helped make “saving our planet” mainstream by producing documentaries like “When did we Become a Plastic Society” by Plastic Pollution Coalition to help create awareness on the perils of plastic.
So here’s my challenge for you (and me)! For the next 25 days, I challenge you to take baby steps towards eliminating plastics from your everyday lives! Everyday I will post a solution/tip on how you can replace plastic with something more eco-friendly. Some solutions will be more challenging than others but once you get the hang of it — it will all become a no-brainer!
COUNTDOWN TO EARTH DAY:
1. Skip the Plastic (Credit Card) and Switch to Paper (Cash)
It doesn’t seem like this concept would really deter plastic junk from our landfills but it actually really does! We’ve really buckled down this past year on our household finances and have learned (and saved) a lot! I highly recommend the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course. Once of his main concepts is to ditch credit card and to use cash in order to “feel” your purchases. I must say that by using cash you really do FEEL the purchases! You really start to analyze the use of your purchases. “Do I really need this new kitchen gadget?” “How long will this product last me and how will it recycle?” I have found myself not handing over the cash as much as I would have just swiped my card. So in reality, switching to cash really does save the environment!
2. BYO Leftover Containers
These days, many restaurants have jumped on the green bandwagon and have steered clear from the plastic leftover to-go containers but a lot of restaurants can’t use them due to the “messy” factor. Instead, dedicate a set of glassware just for a family night out at a restaurant. This will help preserve the food longer and you’ll be able to see what’s in it so you’re more likely to actually eat the leftovers.
3. Re-purpose Furniture
Good quality furniture is really hard to come by these days. It’s just not made like it used to be. Drawers and hinges are now made out of plastic and the actual wood, well, it’s not really wood. Furniture these days are filled with toxic glues and chemicals to create the “wood look” that off gasses into our living spaces. Not good for the environment and definitely not good for our health! Instead pick up some old pieces of good quality furniture that has a ton of character and history to it. Don’t be scared of the out dated look or the blemishes. Old furniture can easily be given an updated trendy look by using a little Chalk Paint. This paint is super user friendly and has a ton of stylish colors! I found this old dresser on Craigslist for $50 and had a friend finish it in Chalk Paint for me. It makes for a great media cabinet and toy storage!
4. So “No” to Hangers
We recently went “my 4 year old had a growth spurt” shopping and I noticed the check out gal was throwing all the clothes in a bag with the hangers still attached. That’s not typical when I go shopping for my clothes so I asked her if they recycle the hangers or throw them away. She said, “YES! We do recycle them! But most parents like to keep the hangers for the little ones”. You can pick up some baby/child hangers for a couple bucks and they will last you till you’re ready to pass them on. So be sure to ask and have the hangers removed before they get bagged so they can reuse for other merchandise.
5. Skip the Straw
I’m a straw fanatic. I can’t drink out of a cup with out one…unless it’s wine, of course. I have a variety of straws that I use at home from the re-usable plastic ones that I use for my Mason jar cups to these metal straws that I’m obsessed with! It might be a little awkward to BYOStraw to restaurants but why not give it shot and start a new trend!
6. Eco Kupp
Another great product for the littles is the Eco Kupp. Its a glass cup (don’t lose me now) protected by a silicone sleeve. I find that almost EVERY kids cup is made out of plastic! I suppose for a good reason but it’s great to see that there is now an alternative. When your little starts learning to drink from a cup they tend to be extra cautious in the process not wanting to spill. This is great time to introduce the Eco Kupp. They come in a variety of fun colors and are super easy to clean! You can get your very own Eco Kupp right here from our Green Mom Company store!
Mom Tip: All your wine glasses dirty? These also make great wine glasses. *wink wink*
7. Highchair to Adult Chair
Pretty much every baby needs a high chair of some sort. Some of the major cons of a highchair is that they take up way too much space, cumbersome, a pain to keep clean and costs quite a bit of money for something that doesn’t get used for very long. Oh, and it’s made out of PLASTIC! Let me introduce you to the Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair! I’m obsessed with this not-so-baby product. One of my favorite key features of this chair is that baby can sit at the table with us and be a part of the action. For a little bit more money, you can get this stylish, compact chair (shown here in Hazy Grey with the Baby Set ) and it will last your child through adulthood! I find myself sitting in my 4 yr olds Tripp Trapp all the time. They are quite comfortable and it supports an ergonomic sitting position.
8. Re-usable Fem-Care
Yep. You read that right! Want to really make the commitment to Mother Earth?? Trade in your Maxi-pads and tampoons for a Diva Cup and washable cotton panty liners!! Menstrual cups are on the rise with the all discoveries of the toxins that our fem-care products are full of. Not only does it take quite a bit of natural resources to make them but they are polluting our water treatment plants and taking up space in our landfills. I originally discovered “the cup” by reading the most hilarious Amazon review of all time that has since been removed from the world wide web. What piqued my interest to research this device further was the 5k plus positive reviews on it. If you are serious about your commitment to Mother Earth, you can find out more information AND be thoroughly entertained while doing so, by checking out www.putacupinit.com created by Kim Rosas, “The Vagangelist”. You will find out EVERYTHING you need to know about making the switch on over to re-usable fem-care.
9. Farmer’s Markets
I love how Farmer’s Markets are popping up in almost every city! Most cities make a big ol’ what-to-do about them by bringing food trucks, live music and activities for the kiddo’s. At our local Farmer’s Market you’ll find all sorts of goodies from handmade jewelry, fresh local caught fish to of course, fresh local fruits and veggies. I thought Costco took all my money but give me a couple hours at a farmers market and I’ll for sure to go broke! Don’t forget to BYOBags!
10. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk not only helps you save a lot of money but it also cuts down a great deal on packaging. This doesn’t apply for all things at Big Box stores but we find that it works for most of the necessities, like for fresh food items and toiletries.
11. Doggie Lawn
This is a great solution for those with Fur Babies that don’t have 24/7 access to the outdoors. Nature always calls at the most inconvenient time, whether you have a toddler or a fur baby! Disposable puppy pads have been the norm solution for pet owners to lay down for the “just in case”. Just like disposable diapers, puppy pads will never fully break down in our landfills. Instead, try the Doggie Lawn! It will last longer than a puppy pad and instead of heading to the landfill, you can throw the Puppy Lawn into the “green waste” receptacle. And it looks way more Feng Shui than a disposable puppy pad!
12. Birthday Party Gift Bags
There’s been a push by lots of parents this past year to “quit with the birthday party gift bags, already!” and I’m totally on board!! All these little chochkeys that get played with for a hot minute and then end up at the bottom of the toy bin to never be played with again. Don’t get me wrong, we are totally appreciative of all the hard work and money spent to put them together, but in reality, they all end up in the landfill within a few weeks. So SAVE your money and the landfills by either forgoing these plastic chochkeys filled party bags all together or opt for a more eco-friendly solution!
Sometimes we just can’t get around it! Plastic is everywhere and our essentials are packaged in them. We like to buy in bulk, specifically at Costco, since it’s more cost effective for our family and it really does reduce the amount of packaging for a lot of the items we buy. One dilemma for me has been that the organic eggs are packaged in a plastic container rather than the traditional paper egg cartons. We tend to go through a lot of eggs over here so you can imagine how that adds up. Since it’s a bigger bulkier item we just leave it next to our recycling bin (mostly out of laziness) to take out to the garage later. One day I came down stairs to find this set up on the dining room table…
So there you go! Kids are the best innovators for making something out of nothing! Now he can easily store his assembled builds neatly and organized and we can fret less about his baby sister getting a hold of them.
14. Grow your own Herbs
Since we started eating more meals at home (kids do that to you) and cooking healthier, we noticed we started using a lot more fresh herbs and veggies. I couldn’t believe the cost of fresh herbs! Like $5 for a little PLASTIC container of them and you get way more than you’ll ever use before they spoil. What a total rip off! Instead, head on over to your local nursery and pick up some of your favorite herb plants for a couple bucks and you’ll have an endless (on demand) supply of fresh flavorful herbs!
15.Re-usable Snack Bags
Have small children or just trying to eat healthy? Then you’re in the know about how important it is to have snacks on hand. You’re already doing a great job and reducing the use of plastic baggies by using your Bento’s, right? But what about the need to pack just a few snacks for on the go? We are really dig’n these cool Silicone Food Pouches from Kinderville. Super easy to clean and you’ll conserve dozens of resources that it takes to make a plastic baggie! You can get them from our very own greenmomco.com store.
16. Re-usable Water Bottle
Wallet…check. Keys…check. WATER BOTTLE…CHECK! 50 billion plastic water bottles are used every year and sadly, less than 25% of them are recycled (down-cycled). You CAN make a difference! I love our Contigo stainless steel water bottles. I like my water ice cold and they keep ice frozen all day long. Find your bottle and make it your daily accessory.
17. BYOCoffee Cup
I love me some COFFEE!! This magic potion is needed for the survival of the human race. Especially for the owners of small children. Not only does hitting up your local coffee shop every day add up to a nice vacation after a few years but ALL THOSE COFFEE CUPS! Approximately a thousand coffee cups a year! Instead, brew your own coffee! Check out our Iced Mocha recipe here. Not ready to say goodbye to your local baristas? Bring BYOCoffee Cup with you! I love these insulated straw cups from Starbucks for my Ice Mocha’s. Mom tip: Go for the Venti!
18. Wet Bag
These stylish waterproof bags are essential whether you have children in diapers or not. On our recent trip to Disneyland we discovered our oldest is now tall enough to ride Grizzly River Rapids. Yeah, the ride where you’re guaranteed to get wet. More like SOAKED!! Good thing we had an extra change of clothes for him and our handy wet bag to throw the wet ones in! Oh me? I got to walk around like a wet rat for the rest of the day. *insert unhappy face*
19. Cloth Wipes
Since your taking the plunge into cloth diapers, you might as well dive in with cloth wipes as well. They’re easy to throw together and to be honest, they clean a lot better with just one wipe. No need to spend a ton of money on the fancy cloth wipes either. Just pick up some Circo (Target Brand) wash clothes, make your own wipe solution (here) or just use water, throw in a wipe warmer and viola! You have reusable wipes! Just throw them in with the cloth diaper laundry after use. You’ll deter approximately 10,000 wipes from the landfills and put about $300 back in your pocket!
20. Cloth Diapers
Now this sacrifice isn’t for everyone. Well, for starters, you need a baby. Once you get your hand on one of those, then you’re set! Since cloth diapers have become more mainstream in the past few years, they come in a variety of easy to use to styles and the Oh SO CUTE PATTERNS!
This image will help put it all into perspective! Just under 4000 diapers hit the landfill per child that is diapered in disposable diapers! That’s a ton of space!! Not to mention the resources used to make them in the first place. With just 24ish cloth diapers, you can diaper a child until potty trained and save a few thousand while doing so.
21. Microfiber Sponges
Everyone needs them, everyone uses them and some go through them more frequently than others. So why not find a great re-usable solution to extend the life of the all-mighty sponge and have it be more earth friendly to boot?! Most sponges are made out of “foamed plastic polymer”. Not only will that never biodegrade (there’s really no such thing) but they really don’t last that long. Make the switch to something more eco-friendly, has a long life span, machine washable and cleans like a dream! Check out all our Microfiber products in our shop. You won’t be disappointed!
22. Buy/Sale/Trade (BST)
Four years ago, this is where I would tell you to buy ALL wood toys for your wee ones. But in all reality, it’s just not that simple and cost effective. A while back I joined a Mom’s Group on Facebook to meet local moms for play-dates and such and mom’s would also post toys and other baby/kid items for sale that their children were no longer loving. All these AMAZING TOYS and for GREAT PRICES! I no longer felt a little guilty for buying the toys that my kid really wanted….ALL THINGS PLASTIC! And it eased the burden even more knowing that I could pass them along for some more love after we were done with them. I highly recommend seeking out a local group and seeing what they have to offer.
Wanna off load your gently used toys and other items but hate garage sales?? Me too! Most likely there is a “garage sale” type BST you can post your goods on little by little to create a more Zenful space.
Why the BST sites instead of Craiglist? I find it to be much safer knowing that I can stalk a profile for validity and in most groups someone knows someone and can vouch for them. Give it a whirl! Give that plastic toy/item a second (or third) loving life before it hits the landfill!
23. Bento Style Lunch Box
Bento boxes are great for packing up some quick snacks to the park or for hearty lunches to take to work. We love this stainless steel bento box from PlanetBox! Super durable, easy to clean (see a trend here) and it pretty much inspires you to pack healthy choices that don’t come prepackaged, therefor reducing the plastic waste that comes along with going out to eat and prepackaged microwavable meals. Check out our blog post on the Planetbox here! There are a variety of Bento’s available to suit your needs. You can check them out here!
24. Re-usable Food Pouches
Food pouches have become all the rave with being able to feed your hangry toddler on the quick! Like what the heck did our forefathers do to prevent melt-downs on their strolls through Target?? I’m not gonna lie, I’ve bought a pack or two of these convenient snacks just to keep the peace in a pinch. But there is a more eco-friendly and eco-nomic solution to these disposable snack pouches… Let me introduce you to the Silisqueeze!
Now, there are so many more reusable food pouch options on the market since I did my initial review on the Silisqueeze. But I still love our Silisqueezes so I’m stick’n with them for kid number 2 since I already have them and they are still in great shape! So avoid all the mold issues and food pouch recalls and get yourself a durable, re-usable silicone food pouch to fill with your own homemade wholesome goodness (aka. giant container of applesauce from Costco). You’ll save the big bucks and deter thousands of disposable food pouches from hitting our landfills!
Lets start simple! Most of you probably already do this, but I encourage you to step it up a notch! For the next 25 days BYOBags, EVERYWHERE! I’m pretty good at bringing my bags to the grocery store and Costco but for some reason I ALWAYS forget to bring them to Target. Mainly on purpose since I secretly love their plastic bags. *insert guilty face* They do get multiple reuses once i get them home and then their final destination ends up being a trash can liner. Okay, enough excuses!
Check out our Reusable Grocery Bags posts on how you can save the planet one bag at a time!
Check out these cute reusable grocery bags! They are extremely durable and fit a ton!
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