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maverick
01-04-2008, 09:57 AM
i was cleaning out my pantry and refrigerator earlier this morning and it occurred to me that we use a lot of disposable products - paper/plastic plates, cups, forks and napkins, paper towels, paper bags, and so forth.

if we forsake convenience for a moment and consider the alternatives, we could slowly impact our environment in a good way.

rather than using paper/plastic plates and bowls, use real plates and bowls.

rather than using plastic utensils, use real utensils.

rather than using paper towels, use dish towels.

rather than using paper napkins, use cloth napkins.

rather than using paper and plastic grocery bags, use the lux from tom bihn or other reusable grocery bags. we can also use these bags when shopping for clothes and other things - not just groceries.

rather than using plastic produce bags at the grocery store, use reusable produce bags.

rather buying water in disposable water bottles, fill a reusable polycarbonate bottle with water. i can do this at least at the start of the day. as the day goes by and i need more water, if i am not in a place where i can drink the tap water or get filtered watered, i have to buy water in a disposable bottle.

when going to starbucks or your favorite coffee house, take an insulated cup with you that you can wash and reuse.

when eating out, take along a reusable container to take home leftover, specially if you eat small and dine at places with large portions.

we have to take a practical approach, and this is different for each of us. i think the key is to adopt practices we feel we can follow long term and make them into a habit. we may forget the reusable grocery bags in the car the first few times after we start using them, but they'll become habit soon enough.

i keep a stack of reusable grocery bags in the back of my car. it just occurred to me that i still use plastic produce bags, so i've ordered these reusable produce bags (http://www.reusablebags.com/store/ecobags%AE-reusable-cotton-mesh-produce-bags-p-689.html).

what are some habits you've adopted that help the environment?

what products have you used that you can recommend?

pretzelb
01-04-2008, 12:01 PM
I use the Red Oxx version of the tote bag. They are plenty durable, come in some very nice colors, and are cheaper than the TB version. I just bought two more for myself. I keep them in my car so I won't forget them but sadly I still do at times.

On a recent trip to the grocery store I had to make a concession. I had my tote bag with me but the clerk put the steak I had into a plastic bag. At first I was going to stop her but then I realized that it was probably a good idea to isolate the raw meat from my tote bag.

I just started to use real dishes for when I have the guys over. I was using paper plates until late 2007 when it struck me that I'm just making it hard on myself since I will have to run the garbage out sooner. Using a dishwasher is much easier to me than hauling garbage out (my pet peeve).

Also in 2007 I started hauling my water back and forth in a 32 oz Nalgene bottle. This actually cases a bag related issue in that it's hard to find a bag to carry a laptop and a large 32 oz bottle without putting them both in the same area.

maverick
01-04-2008, 12:19 PM
Also in 2007 I started hauling my water back and forth in a 32 oz Nalgene bottle. This actually cases a bag related issue in that it's hard to find a bag to carry a laptop and a large 32 oz bottle without putting them both in the same area.

I recently picked up this (http://www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store/detail.aspx?ID=22) Nalgene 32oz bottle because I liked the size of the opening at the top. I had another bottle of similar capacity that I was using that was slimmer and taller, and fit nicely in the Buzz. The Nalgene doesn't fit in the Buzz, but its opening is closer to the size of most plastic water bottles.

I tried bottles that have other openings - I just wanted something where the water would flow.

If you come across a better solution, let me know.

Darcy
01-04-2008, 03:48 PM
when eating out, take along a reusable container to take home leftover, specially if you eat small and dine at places with large portions.


Great post, maverick! And the tip I quoted above is something I would like to start doing. I think I'll use my new Pyrex (http://www.pyrex.com/) glass containers (with plastic lids) for this: I much prefer using glass storage containers over plastic ones because I think they're safer and cleaner. Also, the chain Storables carries some really nice, inexpensive glass containers made in France.

I buy BioBags (http://www.biobagusa.com/) instead of regular garbage bags or dog waste bags. They're a lot more expensive but it's worth it for bags that are 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable bags. It's too depressing to throw biodegradable stuff away in non-biodegradable bags!

In the grocery store, unless the produce is really wet and drippy, I throw the fruit/vegetables directly into my basket and bypass the plastic bag. Then at checkout I put them directly into my Utility Tote (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/200/TB0601). The inside of the Utility Tote is pretty easy to rinse out and is very quick to dry so I don't worry about getting it dirty. But I think I will check out reusable produce bags because there are times when they've just sprayed the produce with water and it's wet.

I think considering what countries the products you buy are made in is important. Some countries have very weak or even no environmental regulations -- imagine how those countries handle the dyes and chemicals used to make various products, and the waste from those processes.

I use wheat kitty litter instead of clay scooping or nonscooping kitty litter (http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/50/1/Cat-litter-and-strip-mining.html) because it's better for the environment and safer for my cats. And it also works and smells a lot better than the clay stuff. I've tried 10 different kinds of clay-alternative litters and I've found what I think is the best brand but I can't remember the name of it so I'll post it later.

Just
01-04-2008, 05:15 PM
Here in Hawaii, they are considering banning plastic shopping bags (like in SF), but I think that until we get a real recycling program going state-wide (I think they are still "trying it out" in two neighborhoods) that WORKS, it really doesn't solve anything - because we reuse those shopping bags as garbage bags to throw our (mostly recyclable) trash away in.

If they ban plastic shopping bags without doing the recycling thing, we will just be buying those Glad trash bags and putting our trash in those. (BioBags doesn't seem to make regular trash bags - because most places have recycling programs!) Basically, making no real difference besides the whole "plastic shopping bags blowing away into the ocean" issue.

Note that that issue, while worthwhile, is still a smaller issue than the "burning trash, or throwing trash into landfills, which may not even be on our islands and hence our trash gets SHIPPED to places like Oregon or WASHINGTON to be dumped into landfills there" issue.

Sigh.

On brighter notes:

The reusable produce bags are nifty!

SIGG bottles instead of Nalgene bottles! Leaching (http://www.google.com/search?q=nalgene+leaching)! Plus, SIGG bottles have those caps that you can put a carabiner through, and then you can hook that onto your bag strap, or anything!

P.S. Thanks Darcy, for the link to reusablebags.com! I just received my SIGG bottles in the mail from them! Much cheaper shipping than the MySIGG site. Local vendors didn't have the selection =(

slinstar
01-04-2008, 07:56 PM
Second the biobags for dog waste, Sigg bottle for water, reusable everything. (On the leaching front, those office watercooler bottles are polycarbonate too, so beware. Plus they're abysmal for the environment, all those horrible Sparkletts trucks hauling water all over the city.) We get takeout (mostly burritos) too often, and they always give us too many napkins, so i stick the extras in my bag & we don't have to buy napkins any more. But we also tend to tear napkins in half along the fold and only use half at once, and reuse that one until it's nasty, which not everyone might like :) When you do get take-out, take recyclables home with you, like burrito foil or plastic containers. Decline bags everywhere! Composting is incredible for reducing your trash, if you have a yard/patio/balcony that makes it possible (or if your city has yard-waste pickup). Make your own coffee at home/work and carry it in a reusable mug, take a reusable mug to the coffee shop, or switch from coffee to tea b/c it's easy to make tea at work if you have a faucet, mug, & microwave. Buy some inexpensive dishes & utensils (Ikea!) & stick them in the office kitchen -- it was the only way I could get people to stop using styrofoam like it was going out of style. In public restrooms, dry your hands on your pants or by running them through your hair. Just use less stuff. Cotton clothes are awful for the environment b/c of all the pesticides, so buy nice stuff that will last, not lots of cheap stuff. (Works with bags too!) Fewer cosmetic products, with all their plastic packaging. Don't buy bottled beverages. Squeeze your own OJ, and don't get trended into buying a couple of bottles of wine a week when you wouldn't dream of buying bottles of soda or bottled water!

Get yourself off of catalog lists and other mailing lists. I've contacted a lot of catalog people directly, as well as the enviro & other groups I belong to (amazing how much paper the enviro folks mail out in a year), and recently read about this site: https://www.catalogchoice.org/. You can also get yourself off the ValPak list here: http://www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm but I don't think there is anything you can do about the grocery/drugstore circulars that the mail carrier is required to put in everyone's box. This site stops those pre-screened credit card offers, except for the ones that come from airline mileage programs you belong to: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t Call or email your credit card company & they'll stop sending you those "convenience checks," which are dangerous anyway b/c they could get stolen from the mail & used. Go paperless w/ all your billing, w/ your auto insurance policy papers (Geico at least offers this, we just have to remember to print our proof of insurance every 6 months so I put a reminder in my computer's calendar), etc.

A nifty new product, for those with little ones, are gDiapers: http://www.gdiapers.com/. Only the plastic-free liner is disposable, and you can flush or compost it. And you can practice Elimination Communication to reduce the number of diapers you use of any sort (and, I've been told it makes things more interesting than mindlessly changing diapers all day). Welcome hand-me-downs, b/c most kid stuff barely gets used before it's too small. (But car seats should be new b/c they break down over time, & don't put your kids in polyester clothes b/c they get treated w/ toxic flame retardants since they can melt. Also avoid polycarbonate and PVC/vinyl products for kids -- more leaching!)

On the electricity front: Compact fluorescent lightbulbs make a huge difference. LED christmas lights for holidays/yard lights. Put your appliances on a power strip & switch the strip off when not in use to prevent the standby power drain. We put our TV, DVD, etc. all on the same strip & it cut our electricity bill by a third, which was mind-blowing. Did the same thing with kitchen stuff (coffee maker & toaster, which have clock/lights) although with a small toggle-switch we could plug in instead of a big power strip. Same for under my desk where my laptop & the printer/scanner plug in -- gets turned off every night. Unplug your cell phone once you see that it's charged. Turn off lights when you're not in the room. Wear a sweater, get an extra blanket. Move to a nice climate where you don't really need heat or AC :) (That's how I convince myself that being part of the LA sprawl doesn't make me a bad person.)

For water (& gas for heating the water): We got a $12 low-flow shower head at home depot that has a little lever on it so you can pause the water while you soap, shave, or step out to get something you forgot. It's pretty cool, b/c the water temperature stays the same since it's just paused, you don't have to fiddle w/ the knobs. Wish I had my own place & could get a front-loading washer :) We have a Brita filter on our kitchen sink & one of its non-filter settings is a shower-like mode, which you use less water volume with. Always turn water off between dishes, etc.

Don't let the dryer run too long, let some heavy things finish air-drying (e.g., towels you're going to hang up anyway), or line-dry outside if you have the capability.

Don't dry-clean. Terrible for the environment & your health. I have yet to ruin a garment w/ hand-washing plus air-drying. Sweaters and other wool garments can be gently washed in shampoo (wool is hair! but don't use conditioner), placed in a towel & rolled to safely squeeze out the extra water, and dried flat; silk can be washed in castile soap like Dr. Bronner's, which is good for person-washing too; and synthetics can be hand-washed in detergent.

White vinegar is practically the only thing you need to clean your home (windows, hard-water stains in the bathroom, etc.) and/or get cleaners from Seventh Generation (I like their mint toilet cleaner) and Bi-O-Kleen (like their soy solvent cleaner for floors & their soy cream cleaner for sinks & tiles). Seventh Generation dish liquid is good too, and I like their powdered laundry detergent for whites, sheets, & towels, but it makes colors a little dingy so I still use cheer free for those loads and for hand-washing.

That's all I can think of for now. Happy new year!

Just
01-04-2008, 08:27 PM
Get yourself off of catalog lists and other mailing lists. I've contacted a lot of catalog people directly, as well as the enviro & other groups I belong to (amazing how much paper the enviro folks mail out in a year), and recently read about this site: https://www.catalogchoice.org/. You can also get yourself off the ValPak list here: http://www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm

On that note, has anyone tried GreenDimes.com (http://www.greendimes.com/)? You have to pay for this service ($20 per year, I think), but they plant trees on your behalf in addition to stopping your junk mail.


Put your appliances on a power strip & switch the strip off when not in use to prevent the standby power drain. We put our TV, DVD, etc. all on the same strip & it cut our electricity bill by a third, which was mind-blowing. Did the same thing with kitchen stuff (coffee maker & toaster, which have clock/lights) although with a small toggle-switch we could plug in instead of a big power strip. Same for under my desk where my laptop & the printer/scanner plug in -- gets turned off every night.

That's an awesome idea! Must try to work this setup in at home.

Btw, I was looking at some dryer balls while Christmas shopping, but apparently they are REALLY, REALLY BAD (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/09/nellie_dryer_balls.php).

ellismc
01-08-2008, 11:51 AM
I really like the Sigg bottles. I might have to get one of those soon. I've switched over to an old double-edge razor (see my other post in this forum). I've also begun carrying Baggu Bags to the grocery, which are easy for me to hide in a jacket or pocket until I need them. They're obviously not the quality of the utility tote;), but they meet my needs.

I've also been trying to reduce my consumable goods in general wherever possible. I really appreciate all the great ideas in this thread, and I'm looking forward to expanding my efforts to conserve and use reusable products. Thanks for the thread!

wildgeese
01-08-2008, 03:38 PM
I can't think of anything to add at the moment. Some of my favorite things that others have already mentioned are:

TB Utility Tote!
cloth bags for produce that needs to be bagged
cloth dinner napkins!
Sigg bottles
glass containers (never microwave in plastic)

I didn't know about getting off credit card mailing lists, so thanks a lot for that info.

The only comment I have to add is that I have received several compliments from store clerks and shoppers about the TB Utility Tote. I love being able to tell people about it. I always show the back of the care label and tell that the bag is made in the USA!

maverick
01-08-2008, 06:35 PM
i saw some sigg bottles at my local whole foods today and i was impressed. the largest they had was the 1L. i think i'm going to order a 1.5L. the 1.5L bottle is supposed to have a width (i assume that means diameter) of 3.5". has anyone who has the buzz used the 1.5L offering from sigg? i'd like to be able to carry it in the bottle holder of the buzz.

thanks!
maverick

pretzelb
01-08-2008, 06:48 PM
i saw some sigg bottles at my local whole foods today and i was impressed. the largest they had was the 1L. i think i'm going to order a 1.5L. the 1.5L bottle is supposed to have a width (i assume that means diameter) of 3.5". has anyone who has the buzz used the 1.5L offering from sigg? i'd like to be able to carry it in the bottle holder of the buzz.

thanks!
maverick

Just goes to show how you can't win. I do recall seeing the information on the polycarbonate concerns and how that might affect a Nalgene bottle, but iirc, Nalgene is a home grown USA operation. So one the one hand I thought I was being a good consumer but maybe not so much. The Sigg bottles look fine but it's kind of a pain to have to convert from litre to oz to compare to the Nalgene version. I might venture to my local REI and check it out. The sizes do look more compatible for storing in a bag than the Nalgene because they are narrower.

Oh, regarding the waste bags for pets. I haven't researched this totally but I think that "buyers should beware" when it comes to a bag saying it's biodegradable. Seems like I read that the phrase "biodegradable" is under consideration or that it can mean different things. I do know that one bag I see for sale in Petsmart says something about not being applicable to California. I don't have the answer but I wanted to issue the warning that more research could be required in the case of the pet waste bags.

slinstar
01-08-2008, 07:19 PM
The Sigg bottles look fine but it's kind of a pain to have to convert from litre to oz to compare to the Nalgene version.

It's not too bad, a liter is basically a quart, so the liter bottle is equivalent to the 32-oz Nalgene. For the questioner above -- the liter Sigg is 3.15 inches in diameter & fits in my old-model Buzz, but it's a fairly snug fit -- you might be able to fit the 1.5 liter but it's not definite.


Oh, regarding the waste bags for pets. I haven't researched this totally but I think that "buyers should beware" when it comes to a bag saying it's biodegradable. Seems like I read that the phrase "biodegradable" is under consideration or that it can mean different things. I do know that one bag I see for sale in Petsmart says something about not being applicable to California. I don't have the answer but I wanted to issue the warning that more research could be required in the case of the pet waste bags.

That's a good point. I think the little blue rolls of bags in a lot of the pet stores aren't really biodegradable. I have the biobags, which are supposed to be pretty good: http://www.biobagusa.com/ They are pricey though, generally about 10 cents a bag; recently they were on considerable sale at drugstore.com so I stocked up on enough to apply one of their coupons and get free shipping. Also if you put the used bags inside a non-biodegradable trash bag before it goes out to the curb, I'm sure you lose a lot of the benefit. I haven't put them in my compost b/c it goes on edible plants and that seems a little iffy from a germ perspective. So I think they're better than plastic bags when you have no choice but to use something disposable (and I think pet waste pretty much falls in that category), but still imperfect.

Just
01-08-2008, 09:25 PM
has anyone who has the buzz used the 1.5L offering from sigg? i'd like to be able to carry it in the bottle holder of the buzz.

Hi maverick,

I just tried it. No, the 1.5L SIGG bottle will not fit in the bottle holder of the Buzz. It's simply too wide around. =(

However! You can get accessories with the SIGG bottles, like a carabiner or such things, to clip them onto your bag.

maverick
01-09-2008, 05:00 AM
Hi maverick,

I just tried it. No, the 1.5L SIGG bottle will not fit in the bottle holder of the Buzz. It's simply too wide around. =(

However! You can get accessories with the SIGG bottles, like a carabiner or such things, to clip them onto your bag.

Thanks for checking Just!

pretzelb
01-09-2008, 09:45 AM
Hi maverick,

I just tried it. No, the 1.5L SIGG bottle will not fit in the bottle holder of the Buzz. It's simply too wide around. =(

However! You can get accessories with the SIGG bottles, like a carabiner or such things, to clip them onto your bag.

I don't know about maverick but I don't like the carabiner approach. I could do with with my 32oz Nalgene (it has a loop that holds the cap to the bottle) but then it would fling around. I've seen people do this and hang them from their belt but how their pants stay up is beyond me. If I did this on my backpack I'd fear it would be like a medieval ball and chain and it would either hurt me or someone next to me (I have been known to be clumsy).

Just
01-09-2008, 05:30 PM
The 1.5L bottles are pretty unwieldy. I'd suggest maybe multiple 1L bottles in an Ego or Super Ego bag (since those have two water bottle holders) for on the go... the 1.5L is more of a "office" bottle or even a "home" bottle... unless you have some other way to securely carry it.

gmich
01-11-2008, 12:25 PM
Thanks for starting this link, Maverick. Lots of good ideas and some products I was unfamiliar with. Has anybody tried these Wrap-N-Mat reusable sandwich wraps (http://www.reusablebags.com/store/lunch-bags-sandwich-bags-c-4_13.html?osCsid=fad1696293c56de48346a3d8afa53a34) ? I'm looking for a replacement for plastic sandwich bags for kids' school lunches.

Heidi Jill
01-11-2008, 04:38 PM
I haven't tried them, but they look like a great idea! If I carried a sandwich every day, I'd definitely get a couple! Have you tried wax paper bags? Much better than plastic (as long as everything stays dry) IMHO. I also have a couple stainless steel containers with snap on lids for carrying snacks.

I've been on a huge kick to get plastics out of my life. I try not to buy anything in a plastic jar (easier said than done, but if you look really hard you can still find peanut butter and mayo in glass jars). I don't buy plastic wrap anymore - I use aluminum foil or freezer paper, both of which can be recycled if clean.

We use maybe one roll of paper towels every 6 months (and I buy the cool brown towels made from recycled paper). Just about anything you'd mindlessly grab a paper towel for, you can do with a cloth towel. I do still use the paper for really yucky cleanups (like if the chicken package leaks or the coffee maker goes berserk and spits up all over the counter!)

I really have fun looking for new ways to use less.

pretzelb
01-15-2008, 05:47 AM
I really have fun looking for new ways to use less.

One thing I miss about the time I spent in Seattle was all the brewpubs in the area. You can buy a reusable jug (called a growler) and get refills with the jug. Glass can be recycled but better yet to reuse right?

Back where I grew up there still is a local soda company in this old barn that is probably over 50 years old now. They have their own bottle machine right there and you pull up with your empties and they take them back. I don't drink much soda these days but it's funny how an old fashion approach like that is now "hip". I wish you could get milk delivered in glass jugs or at least had the option to go get refills.

maverick
01-15-2008, 09:58 AM
i picked up a 1L bottle from sigg and like it very much. it fits perfectly in the buzz! thanks to all who suggested it!

pretzelb
01-15-2008, 12:18 PM
i picked up a 1L bottle from sigg and like it very much. it fits perfectly in the buzz! thanks to all who suggested it!

I was going to get a Sigg but it then dawned on me the irony of reuse when throwing away a Nalgene for a Sigg. I read the articles on the health issues and most I found seemed to say there was no real danger. If my Nalgene breaks I'll look into the Sigg. But I may replace the Nalgene I use for the dog though - yea, she gets better care than me. :p

Darcy
01-18-2008, 02:57 PM
because we reuse those shopping bags as garbage bags to throw our (mostly recyclable) trash away in.

I have a friend who uses plastic shopping bags as garbage bags. Ikea makes a cool little garbage can system one can install in a cabinet that is sized perfectly for those bags.

All of this reminds me of an experience I had in Las Vegas: I went to a trade show in Las Vegas recently and was surprised by how little recycling seemed to be going on there, at least where I was. I was also surprised at how hard it was to find a good restaurant (admittedly I didn't look too hard and stayed close to the convention center -- I'm sure there are really good restaurants that I didn't find.) I ended up at a tiny Taqueria where they served the food and drinks in styrofoam containers. Even if you were eating in the Taqueria. Scary!!

maverick
01-18-2008, 04:09 PM
I have a friend who uses plastic shopping bags as garbage bags. Ikea makes a cool little garbage can system one can install in a cabinet that is sized perfectly for those bags.

All of this reminds me of an experience I had in Las Vegas: I went to a trade show in Las Vegas recently and was surprised by how little recycling seemed to be going on there, at least where I was. I was also surprised at how hard it was to find a good restaurant (admittedly I didn't look too hard and stayed close to the convention center -- I'm sure there are really good restaurants that I didn't find.) I ended up at a tiny Taqueria where they served the food and drinks in styrofoam containers. Even if you were eating in the Taqueria. Scary!!

Hey Darcy,

If you happen into Las Vegas again, there is a wonderful vegan restaurant that serves meals prepared with raw foods called Go Raw Cafe (http://www.gorawcafe.com/). This was my first experience at a raw foods restaurant and I was very pleased.

Go Raw Cafe is located on a lake in the suburbs, about 15 minutes from the strip.

It's been a while, but from I remember, we had the sushi, the vege-coti, and some other dish that isn't coming to mind now. Everything we had was very good!

Darcy
01-21-2008, 12:01 PM
If you happen into Las Vegas again, there is a wonderful vegan restaurant that serves meals prepared with raw foods called Go Raw Cafe (http://www.gorawcafe.com/). This was my first experience at a raw foods restaurant and I was very pleased.


I can't believe I missed that. Thanks for the tip: I'll definitely check it out next time.

Speaking of vegan food, I recently had a pesto sandwich at a vegan restaurant that was amazing: the pesto was walnut/cilantro. I'd never thought of making pesto with walnuts and cilantro.

PM4HIRE
01-21-2008, 12:18 PM
If you are in a new city and want to checkout resturants,
then click http://www.chowhound.com/ and have at it.
This website recently changed ownership and had a
makeover.

Also, click http://www.healthyhighways.com/ for more
info when on the road.

Darcy
01-22-2008, 01:13 PM
If you are in a new city and want to checkout resturants,
then click http://www.chowhound.com/ and have at it.
This website recently changed ownership and had a
makeover.

Also, click http://www.healthyhighways.com/ for more
info when on the road.

Thanks: I think those sites will be useful for some upcoming trips.

dorayme
03-30-2011, 07:29 PM
Why has this thread died? There is so much good information here and that could be shared here. I love it! Our household has been doing so many of these things for so long I rarely think anything of it until I read posts like this.

We haven't bought paper towels in our home for over 5 years. One day I decided to switch to cloth and we have used up the few rolls I had very sporadically when something was too messy to pitch a cloth towel for.
We used Elimination Communication in combination with cloth diapers for our children from birth.
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5005/5245085191_71721719ee.jpg
I used reusable personal care items for myself until this year when I had surgery and no longer need them.
I use small organic cotton crochet and knit facial pads vs. cotton rounds in the bathroom, just chuck them into a mesh bag for washing.
I have used reuseable shopping bags for grocery and other shopping since dh and I were married over 11 years ago. I doubt I will have to buy them as frequently as I have in the past after I finish transitioning to Shop Bags. After searching for many moons I just scored 2 Utility Totes, w00t!!!
We use cloth napkins instead of paper and rarely use plastic utensils or cups.
I do use the thin paper plates when I am under the weather because it makes cleanup easier for our family of 5, but that is rare and we compost them into our garden compost.
I use small crochet and knit kitchen scrubbies vs. sponges (same as my face cloths, easy to wash and keep sanitary and clean).
We use Kleen Kanteen and Lifefactory glass bottles for cold beverage transport. I have a Cuisinart insulated stainless steel coffee cup and hand thrown stoneware for hot beverages (I'm the only one who drinks them).
We use glass containers in our home for juice and leftovers, but I love the idea above of bringing your own take home container to a restaurant. I never thought of that one before.
I pack lunch for our family when we go to outings for our home school or otherwise. I have a picnic sized insulated basket and bento style containers for each of us for sandwiches, soup, leftovers, or whatever I choose to pack.
we use cfl's in our light fixtures
I won't buy an appliance unless it's energy star, high efficiency, or lower consumption. I wish my house was set up for lp and solar but it's not. That will be a consideration for future homes.
Most of my kids toys were and are from sustainable wood, or handmade, though for my sons we have branched into lego and that's a never ending pit of ABS.
We shop quite a bit at thrift stores, resale, consignment and garage sales as well and find things to reuse that we need / value and other's no longer do. I cannot begin to describe the bargains we have found for our family this way!

Since it's been a few years, I can only imagine that there are tons of new ideas that could be shared in this thread. Please forum, don't let it die!

backpack
03-30-2011, 11:30 PM
While our family is small, just the 2 of us and our 3 goldfish girls since our beloved cat passed away, we have been on the green bandwagon for many years.

We have been using: grocery store size plastic bags for garbage, it limits the size of throwaway items that we buy; green light bulbs, recycling services and centers, stopped the purchase of magazines and newspapers in favor of e-news reading; switched to green paper towels and have limited their use in favor of cloth kitchen towels; green cleaning products.

Old travel bags have been converted to grocery shopping holder, perfect for non perishable staples.

Discount store clothes which do not quite fit have been given away to non-profits resale stores, books that are not reference or cherished tomes found their way to libraries.

Clothes shopping is minimal, we both hate it and do our best to catch sales.

My husband even gave away our cat carrier(s), cat size, bigger size (for vet trips) and airplane size as well as all the emergency cat food and a cat fountain to a non profit cat rescue.


I have to admit our fascination for electronics and my attraction to fountain pens, cotton yarn and Tom Bihn Inc bags. :)


I need to look at solar chargers, thanks for the reminder Dorayme! :)


Ooops forgot! Trying our best to buy made in America or other decent work condition country only.

Lani
03-31-2011, 01:35 PM
what are some habits you've adopted that help the environment?

what products have you used that you can recommend?

I carry my own utensils with me so I don't use plastic forks and whatnot when I dine out.

My boss actually gave me a "To-Go Ware" bamboo utensil kit with fork, spoon, knife, and a pair of chopsticks. It's pretty good, although I already had a collapsible pair of chopsticks and a Spork (which I really love). I usually tuck them in my purse.

Also, the fitness center at work has these great towels... they're white, thin, and smaller than your typical bath towel. I guess people call them gym towels (not the tiny towels but ones you can sit on to do stretches, etc.)? Anyway, we had them order a couple extra dozen when they made a big bulk order, and we use those as our towels at home. I know some people are really attached to the thick plush humongous towels, but they are such resource hogs. Our towels are smaller, and we can really pack 'em in in the washing machine. They also dry much faster than a big bath towel.

Jenne
04-01-2011, 04:39 PM
For some reason, we don't generate as much trash as the other people around us. This past week, we didn't even fill the kitchen garbage, let alone have anything in our curb container. (It bugs me that our curbside recycling container is so much smaller than our rubbish container.)

We compost kitchen scraps and use reusable everything. (We do keep paper towels on hand for when our dogs have upset stomachs, but other than that, we use cloth for almost everything.)

We've also been broke since our move to Texas, so that has REALLY limited eating out and convenience foods, which helps reduce our trash.

I keep a titanium spork in my purse (Imago or Cafe Bag) and when I'm treating myself to coffee out, I bring a reusable mug.

ETA: Lani, I love your site! I practically memorized it when I was first serious about one bag travel.