September is busy- back to school and hectic fall routines. This can cause a lot of food waste (ok, at least in our family) as we recalibrate. Although I’m thankful for my compost bin, I’m even more appreciative of my freezer right now. Browning bananas, extra muffins and bagels, grapes we’re not getting to, leftover tomato paste and an overabundance of homemade pesto- they all go into the freezer until I’m ready to use them. It’s like getting an extension on your homework! Write the date on the outside because who can remember that kind of stuff?
Have you been getting cozy in front of a wood burning fireplace or woodstove this winter? Don’t toss those ashes. You can mix them into your compost heap or directly into the soil. Wood ash is a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium– free vitamins for your plants. Make sure it has cooled off first!
Some (or let’s be real- most) mornings you can’t get your caffeine fast enough, right? One-cup coffee machines are amazing at getting it ready asap. But those used pods add up quickly- over 50 billion pods a year worldwide. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” Keep your pods out of the landfills by using reusable or recyclable versions. Even better, go old school and use a French press sometimes. And of course always drink from a reusable mug to cut more waste!
We keep paper towels in a cabinet for certain messy situations, but not within easy reach. Paper towels are one-use, bleached products that are not recyclable (except for the brown paper core). We use cloth instead- one for dishes and one for hands.
If you can’t pry the paper out of your hand right away, look for half or quarter sizes and unbleached versions. If every US home used 3 less rolls a year, we’d reduce paper waste by 120,00 tons. One less roll a year would save over half a million trees. You use cloth towels in the bathroom- why not in the kitchen as well?
I spend more time than I like reducing, reusing, and then recycling everything else. I’d almost forgotten about the original and number one R. Refuse. If I don’t bring junk home, I don’t have to worry about reusing and recycling. Join me in saying, “Thank you so much, but no thank you.” I’m applying this to hand-me-downs, business cards, and event swag (like conferences and parties, although sometimes it’s so tempting). For family, you can even add, “I love you, but I don’t love that (fill in the blank).” If I know I’m going to give it away – cool as it may look at the moment- I’m going to try not to take it in the first place.
I do like the feel of a paper bill in my hot little hand, but I ‘m trying to change my unnecessary and trash-producing ways. And heads up, I just took a closer look at one of my utility bills, and they have a monthly charge for sending snail mail! Remember, you can get an electronic notification and pay however you want.