This post is #3 in the Growing Green series in honor of Earth Day on April 22. You can find other great posts related to THINKING green this week on these blogs:
I wouldn’t necessarily call my myself a pack rat (though through my life I have had some pack rat tendencies at certain stages). And I am definitely not a hoarder. (You should see the piles of things we gave away before we left for New Zealand last year.) But I do like to see the potential value in an object that could be reused or repurposed and will often hang onto it. You know, just in case.
Granted, I’ve been a lot more careful about what exactly I hang onto these days. After having to pack my whole life in Rubbermaid containers and store it in a family member’s attic for a year, I think twice about what I buy and what I acquire. (As a reminder: just because something is on sale – or even if it’s free – doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal!) I rather like living lightly. The thought of having kids in the future and acquiring more and more stuff, and then the thought of wanting to travel with said kids at some point - let’s just say I don’t like the thought of having twice as many boxes to store!
BUT – I also hate throwing things away. I hate waste. I absolutely cannot stand spending money on a bunch of plastic straws for my smoothies (all individually wrapped if you buy them from Costco!) only to throw them in the garbage can after one use and let them collect in a landfill! (Which is why these awesome stainless steel straws were on my wish list. Thanks to my mother in law for the great gift!)
Wasted money, wasted resources, and wasted energy to produce said resources. Which inevitably leads to a mindset of disposability in general. As a culture, we place less and less value on the objects we have in our lives and we take it for granted that we are able to replace them at the blink of an eye (or at least with a trip to the closest big box store).
I want that to change. So I started by changing myself.
As the hubby and I were moving into our own place a few months ago, we realized there were so many items we needed. Toilet paper for one (we hadn’t bought any for a year as we lived with hosts in New Zealand and then friends and family once we got back!) So that I do buy. But I hated the thought of buying paper towels, paper napkins, plastic baggies, etc, etc, ad nauseum. So, I just didn’t buy them.
And guess what? We have survived!!
I use rags instead of paper towels, cloth napkins instead of paper, and I wash out plastic & glass containers to reuse them instead of throwing out plastic baggies.
And since we compost our food scraps, we take out the trash maybe biweekly. Maybe. And it probably isn’t even because it’s full. Usually it just starts to stink and needs to be removed from the house.
A (Non)Disposable Challenge
So I propose a challenge for you crunchy, hippie, crazy, anti-establishment, homesteading freaks.
No, check that. This is for anyone. Literally anyone in any stage of life.
Do I need to spell it out for you? A-N-Y-O-N-E.
Commit over the next month to not buy anything disposable. No plastic straws, no plastic baggies, no trash bags, no paper napkins, no paper towels. Check yourself every time you go to the store. Do you really need that? Couldn’t you make use of something you already own? Or could you find a reusable version of what you need at a thrift store or secondhand shop (like glass Mason jars for food storage)?
The one exception I will make: toilet paper isn’t included in this challenge. I’m not that crazy. But you never know, I might be eventually. Ha!
So come May 23, maybe you’ll run out to the store and stock up on all the disposable goodies you committed not to purchase in this challenge. But maybe you’ll think twice. Maybe you’ll actually like saving your money for other things like groceries or a meal at a nice, local restaurant. I know I would much rather share a Mexico City and a Zipper with my husband at The Silly Goose instead of stockpiling disposable paper towels.
If you want to join the challenge, leave a comment here! Then you can copy the code below for the button and spread the word on your own blog. If you don’t have a blog (or even if you do), share the love on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest!