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Man, I can’t believe it’s actually March. 2018 has been a blur what with starting a new job and involvement in several of the larger young professional groups here in Omaha this year. It’s been difficult to pause and remember what’s important at times. With all of that though, I think it’s imperative to pause and reflect on your goals periodically throughout the year.
In fact, they say that around this time of year is when people begin dropping off on their New Year’s resolutions. I had a couple of resolutions this year, one of which I talked about here. The one I find myself most passionate about, though, was my goal to make less trash this year.
As you know if you’ve been here before, I’m a sustainability nut (or at least trying to be). I’ve worked hard this year to find little things that don’t really impact my quality of life too much, but greatly reduce the amount of trash I’m putting into the landfill. I’ve taken just little steps at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed and quit, but I think the steps I’ve made have been really beneficial.
Here’s what I’ve done so far:
1) I’ve given up completely on plastic bags by purchasing reusable totes and produce bags. It’s been saving about 8-12 plastic bags from making their way to a landfill each week. When I can’t avoid it, I collect all of the plastic bags I’m using and take them back to a store that accepts them for recycling, since the city doesn’t accept them. I purchased reusable produce bags from Amazon, and some INCREDIBLE square-bottomed totes (seriously, I don't know if I can go back to lifeless plastic bags after using these) from Hy-Vee, but I’m linking some similar ones from Amazon if you’re interested:
3) I just purchased some reusable straws. If you’re interested in why I’ve recently become completely horrified by the impact straws have on our planet, here’s a really great article. The reusable straws I bought from Amazon are really durable, easy to stash in your car for your drive-through runs, and they’re really pretty! You can get them here for $10.
4) Laundry? I’ve stopped doing nearly as much of it. Of course, things that come in close contact with the bacteria-y parts of me still get washed after a use, but pants, sweaters, and shirts don’t get washed nearly as often anymore. In fact, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on how it’s better for your clothes not to wash them nearly as often as we do. AND, of course, it cuts down on water use.
5) Trips to the grocery store have been a lot different this year, too. We’ve been buying a lot more fresh produce rather than packaged items. When we can’t avoid packaging, we look for things that are in cardboard boxes and cans that can be easily recycled rather than those packaged in plastic bags. As a bonus, it means we’ve been eating a lot healthier this year!
Additionally, I've been bringing my own containers to the store and buying from the bulk section. It's a great place to get healthy snacks like nuts, fill up on grains like oatmeal, and get yummy fresh coffee beans.
What I want to do next:
There are a lot of things on my to-do list that I haven’t gotten to because I already have a stockpile of leftover product that I need to use up first.
1) Give up my disposable razors and exchange them for a double-edge safety razor. It will save so much plastic! Here's one I've found that I'm interested in, but if you have recommendations, let me know!
2) Switch to bar soap products rather than body wash that comes in a plastic bottle. There’s still some waste involved, but a little bit of paper is much better than a giant bottle. Let me know if you have any good recommendations!
3) Change out my disposable cotton pads for reusable ones, like these.
4) Get rid of Ziploc bags, and only use reusable ones!
My stretch goals:
1) I want to try to take the bus to work. I’ve been intimidated because I don’t know how to do it. Help!
2) I would love to learn about at-home composting so that my food waste is put to better use.
Overall, I still have a long way to go, but progress is progress, right?
Do you have any green goals for this year? Do any of the above sound interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!