We have been working hard to do better at doing our part environmentally. We are often extra enthusiastic at the start of anything new and then fizzle out before we find our way with it. These five ways to add sustainability to your daily routine can be eased in slowly until they feel second nature and then you can add another five when you are ready.
Here in Rhode Island iced coffee is a way of life. Winter, spring, summer or fall, Rhode Islanders are drinking their coffee iced. We also live by the ocean and that is a constant reminder of needing to eliminate single use plastics and find a better way. Metal Straws are an easy alternative and once you get in the hang of throwing them in your bag you will never leave home without one again. Ranging in price from $1-$8, we bought a handful and use them at home and on the go. There are numerous brands to pick from, and most local coffee shops are now carrying them for sale. We love that our local mid-week coffee stop offers them at cost, putting the environment above the possibility of a profit on this one. Even better? Our kids now make sure to refuse plastic straws at places where they are offered and our eleven year old daughter recently wrote a persuasive essay on why single use plastic straws should be banned. #parentingwin
Did you know that 24% of our food waste could be composted? We have been composting for years. Tiny scraps of veggies, carrot and potato peels, coffee grounds, tea bag interiors, you name it, we compost it. Before we moved to Rhode Island we had a wonderful compost pile that had been nurtured for quite some time and was used throughout our garden. We have been working diligently to get back to that stage here but it has taken a while to build up to the level we were at before. One trick to make it easier is that we always keep a compost bowl on our kitchen counter. As soon as it fills up we take it out to our compost area and let nature take its course. This spring we are hoping to add another compost bin and some worms. If you don’t already follow them, Garden Answer has wonderful gardening tips including this video for composting. By composting the scraps you discard not only do you keep them from going into landfills, you also really use every inch of what you buy or grow.
No brainer, right? But do you really recycle everything you can? Our trash service only picks up single stream recycling every other week and at that we have one bin. We end up with piles of recycling waiting to be recycled because we can’t fit it all in the bin. Did you know that you can take recycling to your local town dump (usually) at no cost? We have begun doing this on the off week of our service. We also recycle metal hangers as we have found that many dry cleaners will take them back and any plastic bags we find or are sent home with can get dropped off at the recycle area at our local market. Staples will take your ink cartridges and sometimes, discarded electronics. We recently watched a show about the plastic beach in Mumbai. To see the massive amounts of discarded plastic really made us stop and take stock of making sure we can do what we can. Using our own bags at the market is top on the list of must dos every single time. We love this errand tote from Utility Canvas for farmers market runs or simple shopping trips. For bigger shopping trips you can even consider a box rather than bags at the market.
This was a new one to us over the last few years. You can regrow your celery and scallions. It is so easy and so amazing to watch. Just cut your celery stalks close to the base but not all the way. Stick the bottom in a shallow glass with water covering the base. Place in a window sill and wait. Before long the center of your celery will begin to grow new stalks. Same works with scallions so don’t throw them away!
The Lunch Box
Our kids have only gotten to eat school lunch once. It was the day we were moving and we had already left for the new house and to make life easier for my mom who was watching them they were allowed school lunch. They were five and six at the time and they have not stopped talking about it since. Why? Because I am that mom. I want to know what they are eating and to make sure that they are not getting too much of one thing or the other. But this all means that every single day I am making school lunches. Do you have any idea how much packaging goes into products for school lunches? It is unreal. A few years ago we switched to bento box type containers for their lunch boxes. It makes packing the lunch a little bit more fun because they get to pick what goes in each section. It also means that they are not contributing to the trash can but instead coming home with the same packaging they left with.
At Charlotte Julienne we sell Bee’s Wrap. A lovely product that is not only pretty but practical. Coming in numerous shapes and sizes, Bee’s Wrap is sustainable food storage wrap. Organic cotton is infused with bee’s wax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin creating a long lasting washable, reusable and compostable alternative to plastic wrap. The Bee’s Wrap is handmade in Vermont and are a tried and true favorite at our house. We love the sandwich pack and the small single size but our real favorite is the collaboration with National Geographic to make the monarch explorer pack. Consisting of one sandwich pack and two medium wraps, the wraps are graced with the National Geographic logo and a whimsical monarch butterfly. This Planet or Plastic collaboration stole our hearts when we learned that it was part of a multi-year initiative to raise awareness about global plastic pollution. If you haven’t used bee’s wrap before consider giving it a try. The process is really quite simple- the warmth of your hands softens the wrap and helps create a seal around the dish you are wrapping. When you are done you simply wash it gently in cool water with mild dish soap and then let it air dry. They last up to a year but often longer.
These five starters have become second nature to us. What other tips do you have? We are hoping to add five more to our lives this year and we’d love to hear from you!