good & ugly

styled by Barbara Pelet

I’m eating out a lot this holiday season, and tossing the one-use containers I bring home doesn’t feel very festive. So I’m emulating my Aunt Betty, a grand lady who loved good restaurants, but who never left food on the table. I think the waste of good food, the effort that went into making it, and the fact that she wasn’t big on cooking played into the rumor that she always kept a bag for leftovers in her designer purse.¬†I tucked a reusable container in my bag this week- no one even noticed when I scooped up the rest of my meals. It doesn’t make for a pretty photo, but this was the best of the lot!

sleep greener

photo by sylvie tittel

A tried and true way to save energy and money is to turn the thermostat down, especially at night. Ours drops to 62, which makes for great sleeping- even for the kids! (Our automatic thermostat has the house warm by the time we get up.) But slipping in and out of bed can be a chilly experience. Invest in flannel sheets to keep cozy. Stay enviro-friendly by choosing products certified by GOTS, which limits chemical use and includes social & environmental responsibility criteria, or OEKO-TEX, which certifies textiles are free from harmful chemicals and has similar social & environmental guarantees.

water coming and going

photo by kirsten marie ebbesen

If you’re walking away from the kitchen or bathroom faucet or shower while the water is running, think again. For example, leaving the tap on while brushing your teeth uses around 8 gallons of water a day. In a year, that adds up to over 36 bathtubs of water down the drain. Remember, tap water is ¬†cleaned and purified, which also uses resources and energy. Make a bigger impact by installing low-flow shower and faucet heads. It’s easier than you think!

knives, forks and spoons

photo by hue-12

The US uses about 40-100 billion plastic utensils a year. Instead of one-use, disposable cutlery, use your own utensils, whether at home or at work. Ditch the plastic forks with your take out as well. Yes, you will have to wash a fork or spoon, but it’s a lot less resource intensive than making and tossing a plastic one. It saves $$ for restaurants too, so share the love!

paper or plastic?

photo by david veksler

Take your pick, or preferably, bring your own bag. But some studies show that what you put in your shopping bag and how you travel is much more important. To make a bigger  difference, eat less meat, walk/combine trips, fly less and buy locally-made products. Bottom line: reuse whatever bags you have at home- until they fall apart.