Did you know that it is estimated that the average American family uses 102,000 gallons of water and creates 3.3 tons of landfill waste each year? And the average American’s ecological footprint is 25 acres! That is tons of waste. The good news is that it is a very simple fix. To reduce your footprint, make daily changes in your behavior and start teaching your kids now. It’s important to start young so it is expected behavior. Here are some suggestions on how to cut waste from your life:
- Cut off anything that uses electricity when leaving a room. This is a very simple way to cut back the use of energy and even a 3 year old can be taught to do. Make sure all windows and doors are shut when the air conditioner is running or turn it off. Want to save even more energy? Unplug everything when not in use. Buy energy star products. Use CFL or LED light bulbs.
- Cut back on water usage. Do you boil enough water for 6 cups of tea or coffee when you only need one? Or do you leave the water on while brushing your teeth? You can save gallons of water every week by paying attention to how much water you are wasting. Want to save even more water? Get a rain barrel to capture water to feed plants. They also make eco-friendly shower heads that help conserve water while showering.
- Just say no to plastic! Get reusable bags for grocery/farmers market shopping. Always carry a extra tote bag for any kind of shopping or put small items in your purse. Use reusable snack bags or bento boxes for lunches. Buy biodegradable trash bags and diaper pail liners. Want to save even more plastic? Opt for organic plush, wooden, rubberwood, or recycled toys. Buy glass bottles for any juices, milk, water, or sodas.
- Recycle everything with a code or check http://www.earth911.org to find out what is acceptable. Most plastic toys, baby products, certain furniture, books, magazines, and junk mail can be recycled. If you eat out, make sure to recycle the plastic cups- including Starbucks cups. If you buy milk in glass containers, check to see if your grocery store takes them back. Most local farmers pick up the glasses to reuse. Want to recycle even more? Have your friends over for a clothing party where you can swap clothes and even kid toys. Whatever is left over, donate to Good Will or the Salvation Army. Make sure you don’t trash something that is in decent condition or unused.
- Reduce your laundry/clothing waste. Make sure you run full loads at 85F instead of 140F. This cuts electricity by 1/3. Purchase a energy efficient washer and dryer. Buy second hand clothing and when done, pass them along again. Want to reduce even more? Wear unstained, non-smelly clothing more than once. Knit your own clothing or buy from WAHM’s. Line dry instead of using a dryer.
- Cut down on driving. Make sure you do all of your shopping in 1 day. Carpool to work or when going out. Take the bus if you are going more than 5 miles. Turn your car off while waiting in carpool lines or while someone runs into the store. Want to do more? Bike or walk to your destination.
- Cut out store bought household cleaners. You can use lemons and vinegar (ideas below) for pretty much everything. Make sure you use recycled paper towels or better yet a cleaning cloth that you reuse.
- Reduce your baby’s footprints. Buy cloth or biodegradable diapers, cloth or biodegradable wipes, and cloth or biodegradable inserts. Breast feed or use glass bottles. Skip the battery operated toys, mobiles, and wipe warmers.
- Don’t eat out. Buy local organic produce. Join a CSA. Compost all leftover food. Have your own garden.
Vinegar has been made and used for thousands of years. Distilled vinegar has been used for cooking, medicinal purposes, and even cleaning. Because vinegar is highly acidic, it is able to break down mineral deposits. Vinegar is considered to be antibacterial. It can clean mold, mildew, bacteria, and some germs. I have just begun using vinegar this year as a cleaner and honestly I don’t know what we’ve done without it!
Here are several ways to use vinegar:
- Vinegar can be used as a carpet cleaner. Not only does vinegar get marker, crayon, grease, and juice stains out, it also lifts pet urine out of carpet!
- Vinegar is great for laundry. You can let your whites soak in 1/2 cup of vinegar and detergent to help brighten them. Vinegar also gets out laundry stains and bad smells.
- Vinegar is a great fabric softener as well. Pour some in your softener compartment just like you would a mainstream softener.
- Vinegar is great to clean coffee pots, water filter jugs, stainless steel bottles, and pots or pans. You can even soak bottles and lids to get out any unwanted mold.
- Vinegar cleans up spilled paint. Vinegar also removes leftover paint on brushes.
- Vinegar can clean and polish glass, stone, brass, bronze, or silver.
- Vinegar also is a natural weed killer and keeps unwanted pests- like ants- out of your garden. All you have to do is pour the vinegar directly on your weeds to kill them.