I’m very fortunate to live in one of the greenest cities in America. In fact, the city of Seattle has the ambitious goal of diverting 60% of it’s municipal waste to recycling and composting by 2012. A major factor in reaching that goal is the city’s ability to educate it’s residents on how to reduce their landfill footprint through increased recycling and composting.
1) Being an eco-conscience family isn’t just about what you do with your trash, it’s also about reducing how much trash you produce. That means re-using and re-purposing items instead of always buying new. A great place to start is with kid crafts and games. We stockpile all sorts of household materials (toilet paper rolls, large juice bottles, plastic baby wipe containers, egg cartons, etc.) for yet-to-be-determined future uses.
The cardboard from cereal boxes is perfect for cutting out 3D cityscapes and baby food jars with a little rice inside make great rattles. Of course, the most classic example is the cardboard box. In fact, the large model that our new trash/recycling bin arrived in provided my kiddos with hours of fun. (See here for more cardboard inspiration).
2) Craig’s List is an eco-parent’s best friend. Let’s face it, kids (especially young kids) don’t have the longest attention spans. That means they often outgrow their toys before the items get a whole lot of use (despite your kids begging you to buy the thing for weeks on end).
This phenomenon results in Craig’s List being full of kid stuff that’s in new or like-new condition. Buying these items instead of something new means you’re keeping one more toy from ending up in a landfill. Plus you’ll likely save around 50%! And you don’t have to stop there, thrift stores and garage sales are also excellent sources for kid gear.
3) How you shop for and store your food can make a big impact. By now, I think most of us are aware that using re-usable shopping bags is a good idea. Not only does it reduce waste, it can also earn you perks at many stores. (At my local Trader Joe’s anyone who brings in their own bags is eligible for a bi-weekly drawing for a $25 gift card.)
Along with re-usable bags, another thing to pay attention to at the grocery store is how food is packaged. One super easy way to reduce waste is to buy items in bulk-sized packaging instead of individual serving-sized packaging. This, of course, cuts down on the amount of trash produced. Finally, the less food that goes rotten in your fridge – the less you waste. So do your best to keep left-overs stored somewhere visible where they won’t be forgotten. (We love these BPA-free glass snapware containers at my house.) If you’d like more info. on sustainable shopping, see this excellent post.
That’s it for today – not too hard, right? I hope this has inspired you to join us on our family journey to go green. I’ll have a little more later on the Glad products we’re trying out but for now here’s the list in case you’d like to get some of your own: