For 2012, I really want to make more of an effort to be eco-friendly. I was inspired while watching the documentary No Impact Man which is about a couple and their young daughter who, for one year, try be as environmentally friendly as they can. They do some pretty extreme things but the message overall is that you don’t know until you try. It made me think about how much I can (and want) to be doing. So I compiled a list of things and will actually be writing it out on paper so I can frame it. That way I’ll have a constant reminder. The list is fairly simple. I went with things I hope to be able to continue with after 2012 but that will still challenge me.
To help you all better understand my reasoning behind each thing, I went into more detail. If you can’t imagine committing to this many things at once why not try 1 per month? We can all make a difference and inspire others to do the same. 🙂
1. Eat out less (avoid take home containers; share meals or bring own Tupperware)
When you eat out, you have less control over what products are used and how much waste is being created. I am not going to completely stop eating out but I will not use plastic straws, bring my own Tupperware for leftovers, use cloth napkins and try to choose restaurants that focus on being eco-friendly.
2. Shop locally more
When food or others are shipped they create a larger carbon footprint, more waste etc. I am going to start shopping at the Farmer’s Market more often so I can buy local items that didn’t have to be shipped.
3. Replace all bulbs with eco-smart ones
Kind of a given but I still have some that haven’t been switched over! Time to stop putting that off.
4. Thrift more than buy new (clothes, shoes etc)
By thrifting/shopping secondhand/buying used you are purchasing items that already exist vs creating a need for more. I plan on thrifting a lot more and buying new much much less.
5. Continue to not eat/buy animal products
I have been vegan for a few months now and love it! It is very eco-friendly. Animals raised for consumption use up an insane amount of energy and water. According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. So just imagine what cutting out all animal products does!
6. Try to create less trash
This is one thing No Impact Man really made me think about; the amount of trash we create. To create less, I will shop less and avoid unnecessary packaging as much as possible. I will buy items that can be re-cycled or reused.
7. Recycle recycle recycle
I do recycle cans, paper, plastic, cartons etc but some items to still find their way into the trash. I just want to be more careful/strict to make sure I am recycling everything I can.
8. Always remember my reusable shopping bags (and small ones for produce)
I have gotten pretty good at remembering these. It helps to have some in the car, some in my purse and even some in my gym bag. I hadn’t thought to use them for produce IN the store so I am going to do that.
9. Don’t buy paper towels or wipes
I rarely buy them because I hate how much waste they create but in 2012 I won’t buy any. I will use up what I have left and then stick to paperless towels. I am also going to make my own makeup remover wipes instead of buying them.
10. Always use r-usable cups
Not generally a problem for me but I will make sure to have my reusable cup with me in case I go to Starbucks or some place with throw away cups.
11. Re-use Ziploc bags/make own reusable snack bags
I use a lot of little baggies and have gotten bad about reusing them. No more!
12. Buy a cup. A “feminine cup” that is.
Read about it here.
13. No new magazine subscriptions
You can also switch them to online subscriptions, I think. I’m going to look into it since I still have a few. I don’t really want to cancel and waste my money…but definitely no new subscriptions by mail.
14. Don’t buy individually wrapped foods
Most food is packaged but avoid items that only have one serving in it. Try to buy items with more servings. Chances are you are cutting back on waste.
15. DIY beauty products
I’m fully aware I own plenty of beauty products. I’m not going to pretend I won’t buy ANY but I do plan on trying to DIY more often than purchase from a store.
16. Donate clothes/unwanted items or post on Freecycle
I need to go through my wardrobe again and see what I should get rid of.
17. Buy all organic
Never mind the “Dirty Dozen”, I want ALL of my food to be organic. I don’t see why I should be putting any unnecessary chemicals in my body.
18. Air dry washed laundry
It might look a little ridiculous seeing clothes strung out all over my small apartment but I do try to air dry my clothes. Going to make a point to do it a lot more though! Might mean washing my husbands uniforms Friday night instead of Sunday so they have time to dry but that’s fine. If I do use the dryer, I will use wool dryer balls instead of sheets that get thrown out.
19. Use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning
I’m going to try to make all my own household cleaning products in 2012. It’s really not difficult, just a matter of getting around to it! And yes, they will be all natural and organic.
20. Buy items in glass packaging vs plastic and re-use them
I love the idea of a jar salad and other such recipes but instead of buying new jars, I will reuse the ones I have.
21. Make my own spice mixes
When a spice bottle runs out, keep it and then create your own mix of spices to add to it.
22. Unplug appliances when not in use
I do this 50% of the time. Not good enough.
23. Attempt to grow another herb garden
My last one fell to its death thanks to my cat! I love using fresh herbs.
24. Grow my own tomatoes and strawberries
I don’t have a yard but these are items I can grow without one.
25. Don’t let water run when washing dishes
I’m really bad about this. *cringe* Best to fill up the sink and use that water until it’s too dirty then refill it. The dirty water can be used to water plants.
26. Freeze foods before they go bad
I have gotten pretty good about this. When I buy produce and bread, I divide it up and put the extras in the freezer. Most items I will thaw before using but I like to eat my blueberries and grapes still frozen! Sliced up frozen bananas are great for smoothies, no need to thaw.
27. Unsubscribe/cancel junk mail
I receive flyers from so many grocery stores, Citibank and other companies. Time to finally put a stop to it!
28. Use wool dryer balls instead of sheets
29. Try soap nuts instead of laundry detergent
I’m eager to try these out. They are actually berries, not nuts. You put 3-5 in a muslin bag, tie it tightly and toss it in with your laundry. You can soak them in some warm water first and then wash with cold water and get more uses out of them. One baggie of “nuts” will last you a few loads. You can purchase 12oz of the soap nuts for around $18 so not only are they natural and chemical free but they are cost effective! When you are done with them, you can toss them outside as they are biodegradable.
30. Re-use toilet paper rolls (keep cords tidy, organize hair bands, store garbage/plastic bags, herb garden)
Obviously I have toilet paper rolls pretty often. Why not put them to use?
31. Turn off my computer at night.
So simple and yet I don’t normally do it.
32. Take shorter showers.
Honestly, I’m not sure how long my showers currently are and I don’t feel like I “dawdle” in there but I’m sure I could be faster! For every two minutes you save on your shower you can conserve more than ten gallons of water!
33. Take notes/write down grocery list on used paper (like the back of something you printed) instead of a notepad.
I’m a bit of a compulsive list maker so this is a must.
34. Buy from bulk bins at natural grocery stores.
Less packaging plus you can usually use your own bag…so no waste!
35. DIY all Christmas gifts in 2012
I’ll start early, like October, and find things I can make that I fee the person receiving it will love!
Another thing I’d like to do is bokashi but I live an apartment without a yard so I’m not sure I can. I know in No Impact Man they live in a building and don’t appear to have a yard so I wonder what they did with their compost. If I think of more things, I’ll be sure to add them to the list, of course!