Earth Day proper has officially been celebrated for over 45 years now! Most folks had not even heard of Earth Day until the whole “green movement” took place just a few years ago. To some, it felt like it would never become mainstream… but petitions have been signed, voices have finally been heard and corporations have been listening. So much “change” has been made in the past 10 years and there is still so much more that can be done! Water catchment and composting used to be just for hippies but now you can run to your local hardware store and purchase easily assembly kits for both! Sarah has been working hard on her mad composting skills and I (Lelaina) just had my garden rebuilt in a bigger location! To celebrate Earth Day today my son and I are going to head out to the nursery and pick up some fruit, herbs, and veggie plants and plant them in our new garden. We sure have missed the convenience of having fresh herbs to choose from for the past couple of months.
Going Green can seem a bit over whelming at times and with all the “green washing” out there, it can seem expensive, which is totally not the case. Check out our 10 Easy Green Solutions that truly make a difference and will set you on your journey of Growing Greener Everyday!
1. Re-usable grocery bags
When we first started our journey of Growing Greener Everyday, we started super simple. We started with re-usable grocery bags! Check out our blog post on why and how we transitioned. Using re-usable grocery bags has made a huge impact on our environment already and will continue to become more and more mainstream with the push of local agencies mandating bans on plastic bag use. Making plastic bags takes a lot of energy and resources for something that is only used once, maybe twice. So if you haven’t started already, pick up a nice, durable set like these Envirosax and start making a difference!
2. Cloth Napkins
Using cloth napkins was our second Growing Greener Everyday adventure. I thought it would be harder than it really was. I absolutely love these cloth napkins from Peopletowels.com! I scored a few sets at a trade show years ago and still use them to this day! Since we’ve had a kid(s) I was in the market for more and really couldn’t afford to spend a bunch on these fashion statements, so I just went with some terry cloth washcloths from Home Goods and they have done a fabulous job. They are also great for cleaning up a messy baby that’s attempting solids. Just wet and wipe! I have these colorful Cotton Dinner Napkins for guests on the way too.
3. Lunch Containers and Re-usable Snack/Sandwich Bags
I remember my grandmother would always wash out plastic baggies to reuse. Back then it wasn’t really considered “saving the planet” but more “these things are expensive!” LOL. I tried to keep that mentality but sometimes…most of the time… it’s kinda gross to wash out used plastic baggies. I’ve tried a few different methods to eliminating lunch/snack waste and I highly recommend the PlanetBox, which eliminates the need for separate baggies all together. When the PlanetBox is closed, everything stays in its own separate compartment. We’ve actually had a lot of fun packing lunches in these and we find ourselves making healthier choice since we don’t have to depend on prepackaged items. You can check out our blog post on the PlanetBox HERE.
Since there’s still a need to pack up some individual snack items when on the go, we prefer to use the Itzy Ritzy Snack Bags. They keep our snacks fresh and best of all, once we are done with them we can just throw them in the wash and I know they are getting CLEAN! And of course they are super stylish!
4. Re-chargeable Batteries
If you have kids, you have toys that make noise…unfortunately. I CAN NOT believe the amount of batteries that we go through just for TOYS!!! For toys that I prefer not to make noise in the first place! We’ve used rechargeable batteries for our underwater cameras when we travel but we needed to step up our game in order to accommodate the noisemakers. We highly recommend the Eneloop Charging Station. It keeps them tidy and organized and easy to charge. It’s actually a really neat concept…the C & D batteries house the AA batteries to make one battery. So all you have to charge are your AA and AAA’s! I know, Mind. Blown.
5. Cleaning Rags
Whether you do the dirty deed yourself or have the luxury of a housekeeper, it’s a great and simple solution to have some cleaning rags on hand. We have both a mix of terry towels and microfibers throughout the house. Once used, we just toss them in a container in the garage and they get washed with other heavy soiled items. Reaching for paper towels to clean up messes has become a thing of the past.
6. Have a separate Trash and Recycle Bin
Recycling is so much easier since we got two separate bins inside our home. One for trash and the other recycle. We’ve been doing this for about 8 years now. This is also a great tool to teach the kiddo’s about recycling. My kid always asks before throwing something away, “Is this trash or recycle?” It warms my heart.
7. Grow your Own Food – Herb and Veggie Garden
Now, I by no means have a green thumb! I was told to start with growing mint because it grows like a weed and you just can’t kill it. Well, I must be some sort of anomaly because we are now on our 4th mint plant and I think….I hope this one works out. So with that said, I’ve managed to actually keep a garden alive for a couple years now. I know, shocking! It all started because we were really getting tired of running to the grocery store to buy fresh herbs. Not only are they ridiculously expensive but they also come in plastic containers. And you don’t even really use it all before they go bad. So we set out and built a garden box for fresh herbs; Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Basil; and a salsa garden; death row (a variety of spicy peppers), onions and tomatoes, the things we enjoy the most. We just recently built a new garden box to accommodate more goodies.
8. Resale Sites (Facebook and Freecycle.org)
I heart my Facebook (FB) resale sites and freecycle.org! First off, I HATE garage sales! Anything that requires me to get up at the crack of dawn and forces me to socialize with penny pinchers and hagglers….well, I won’t even go there in fear of incriminating myself. Instead, check out your local Facebook B/S/T, Resale, Swap & Sale sites if you have a few items that you’d like to sell for some cash. Yeah, Craigslist does the same thing but I feel that the local FB sites are much safer. You can “stalk” their profiles first and decide if you want to sell or buy from them vs. Craigslist, you got noth’n other than a cell #. I’ve had a lot of success selling gently used items as well as buying some barely used toys for a fraction of the cost. It saves money and diverts gently used goods from hitting the landfills!
9. Refinish Old furniture or Buy Used
When I’m in the market for a new piece of furniture, I hit the FB resale groups first. A couple of my local favorites here in California are So. Cal Flea Market and So. Cal Antiques and the local Swap & Sales. I find some really good deals on there. We’ve purchased our changing table/dresser, our son’s big boy bed, night stand and dresser; a re-purposed dresser for an entertainment center, and console table, all for pennies on the dollar for what you could buy new. I know the sound of “used” furniture sounds kinda icky but really with hardly any elbow grease I refinished them all to my liking. I can’t speak highly enough about Chalk Paint! This stuff is amazing and gives even the most tattered piece of furniture new life without even sanding! It dries fast and doesn’t even show paint strokes, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. I personally have only tried Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint but there are several brands on the market. If you have a little extra time and want to save some $$, you can totally give new life to something old/used with very little work and you’ve yet again diverted something from the landfills.
10. Trash to Art/Kid’s Projects
Once you get into the “hippie mode” you’ll start thinking about items in a different light. “Hmmm…I can reuse this!” We’ve up-cycled a few trash-able items into art projects around here. Eventually they get thrown in the recycle bin but at least they provided a little bit more entertainment for the kiddo’s before they’ve met their final destination into yet another item. Check out our blog post on Toilet Paper Rolls and Shoebox Toy Car Garage!
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