Many people get elated when their hometown team wins a game or the local housing values go up. Me? I get a huge charge out of being able to recycle even more waste in our town! Recently, the county in which my family lives expanded its recycling program to include nearly all plastic and paper products. I was overjoyed when, for the first time, I tossed our yogurt containers and plastic cups into the bright blue recycling bin (along with the other cans and bottles) instead of into the dull green trash can, which is downright roomy at the end of the week these days.
One of the best ways to reduce our environmental impact is to use less stuff and reuse what we can. Families who subscribe to my online menu planning system, The Six O’Clock Scramble, go a long way toward these goals by grocery shopping once a week with a master plan and a grocery list, and using nearly everything we buy, rather than throwing away unwanted food and its packaging.
In addition to reducing and reusing what we can, here are some additional ways that our families can cut back on our waste and reduce the amount of stuff that is filling up landfills and polluting our soil:
• Recycle it: Did you know that you can rinse and recycle aluminum foil, along with our other cans, bottles and plastic containers? Make sure you know everything that can be recycled in your town or county so you aren’t throwing stuff in landfills that could be repurposed.
• Unplug it: We recently realized that we can live without the extra refrigerator in the basement. We still have it down there just in case, but it’s unplugged so it’s no longer draining energy.
• Say no to plastic or paper: Each year more than 4 billion plastic bags wind up as litter, polluting our oceans and streams! Have you converted to bringing your own bags to the grocery store, farmer’s market, and other errands? I find it easiest to keep the bags in the car so I don’t have to challenge my faulty memory by remembering to bring them when I shop. I also keep a ChicoBag in my purse that expands to full size so I can use it when I run errands.
• Bundle errands to save on gas and reduce traffic and pollution: Keep a list of all the errands you need to run. When you have an errand to do, try to think of every other routine errand that’s in the same direction so you can make them all in one trip and reduce emissions (and save time and money!).
Every bag, plastic container, foil wrapper that doesn’t get unnecessarily manufactured or thrown in landfills because of our efforts, helps preserve the health of our planet and protect it for our children.
Do you have other tips for reducing our resources? Please share them in the comments section below.
Aviva Goldfarb helps busy parents let go of all the stress at 6:00 and bring joy back to the dinner table. She is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble®, an online weekly menu planning system and cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), and is author of the new cookbook, “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). She is also a weekly contributor to the Kitchen Explorers blog on PBSparents.org.