Here you will find a running list of tips for helping our earth. I will try to add new points each month, so check back for new ways to reduce your waste.
Sections are as follows: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Clothes, Food.
- Cut back on single use plastics. In my country, there will soon be a ban on this (apparently), but even if you don’t live in Canada, try to avoid using such things as plastic straws (use reusable ones or avoid), takeout containers or refuse to buy things that are over packaged. Oh, and bring reusable bags and bins to your grocery store of course.
- If you know you’re likely to have leftovers when going out for dinner, bring a reusable container with you so you don’t have that extra waste of both the food and a disposable container
- Obviously, walk and bike wherever you can. Carpooling is a great option too, as is taking the bus or subway.
- Consider a bamboo toothbrush! The bamboo is compostable, so the only waste is the bristles – a lot less than a whole toothbrush. I’ve got one from The Future is Bamboo that I really like, but I’m sure other places have them too. Also, the toothbrush bristles seem to be better quality, at least on mine, so it should last longer as well.
- Use a reusable razor! (I got one for Christmas which was pretty exciting!)
- Also, reusable water bottles. If you don’t have one by now, definitely go out and get one!
- Instead of wrapping gifts, try brown kraft paper or decorate plain paper, both of which can be later recycled. And instead of tape, ribbon works quite well! You may need an extra person to fold the paper on while you tie the ribbon, but presents always look really nice with a bow anyway! Or just use a gift bag (see below about tissue paper). Fabric drawstring bags are also a good option, as is just wrapping something in fabric.
- Why not reuse wrapping paper? Sure, the paper is a little crinkly, but if you use removable tape and don’t rip the wrapping paper, it can be a big benefit. I wrapped all my Christmas presents in 2020 and 2021 with reused paper. (Now I’m trying to avoid it completely, but this is a good first step!) This doesn’t always work if your presents are big, but for small ones, it works great!
- Reuse tissue paper! I mean, it’s already crumpled, so if you don’t rip it or anything, no one’s even going to be able to tell that this is the second (or third!) gift bag it’s covering . . . :)
- Use reusable straws! A lot of straws are used once and then thrown out every day, so using reusable metal straws is a great alternative. Or, you know, just don’t use a straw at all! Unless you really need to, you can generally get away without it.
- Those black plastic takeout containers with the clear lids are pretty good for reusing! Eventually, the lids may crack, but you can still get more than way more than one use out of them.
- If you have fabric or yarn (or other textile) scraps, keep them around for stuffing items like pillows or stuffed animals or other such things. Sometimes a mix of both fabric and proper stuffing gets you better squishability, but yarn scraps, when cut down small and the strands separated, does make good stuffing.
- Fabric scraps (well, the bigger ones) work greater for sewing doll clothes, if that’s something you do. (I definitely do, and a fair bit of my dolls’ clothes are made from either quilting cotton scraps or knit fabric that I got from old t-shirts and leggings!)
- Did you know that bottle caps are not actually recyclable (at least not where I live in Canada) ? Try to remove bottle caps before recycling the bottle. Also, check what’s actually recyclable in your area and follow it.
- Look for battery recycling/proper disposal programs and things like that in your area.
- See whether anywhere near you has a textile recycling program and take fabric scraps and unwearable clothes there.
- Thrift shopping is a good way to reuse other peoples’ items and prevent more items from being made. It takes practice to get good at finding what you are looking for, but it’s definitely a cool option. (I got a really awesome shirt with Olaf on it at a thrift store!) Oh, and not just for clothes! You can get dishes and books and stuff at thrift stores too!
- Donate your old, used, but still good stuff to thrift stores instead of throwing them out. (And see the section above for unwearable clothes recycling.)
- Mend the knees of those pants! Yeah, holes happen, but that’s what patches are for! I fixed a pair of legging that were going thin with turquoise knee patches, which just makes the leggings even better. Plus, they keep your knees warm.
- Also, mending those little holes that might happen to a favourite shirt is also a lot better than throwing it out. (I’ve got a shirt I’ve mended 8 times, but it’s still going strong!) There are lots of cool visible mending techniques online too, so you can both fix your clothes and give them unique character.
- Don’t buy so many clothes – consider carefully whether you’re going to wear something before you buy it and reduce your buying habits. Also try to buy things that seem like they’re going to last.
- Try participating in a clothing swap or maybe hold one with your friends or in your neighbourhood – it’s a great way to get new clothes and get rid of old but still wearable ones, all for free!
- Be mindful of the food you consume and what it is packaged in. Often, if you eat healthily, there is less waste for the planet and a benefit for your health too.
- If you eat fish, try to buy smaller (not marlin, tuna, shark etc.), local and wild (not farmed) fish. Also try to get fish that has the Marine Stewardship Council seal that says it’s sustainable (it’s blue with a checkmark fish, if that helps).
- Try to eat less meat, especially red meats. Cows produce a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Grow a vegetable garden! I don’t really have any specific tips on this, but my family has a garden going all summer, and it’s really cool eating foods that you know have grown right in your own backyard.
- Compost! There are several ways to do this and I really suggest looking it up online or asking someone who’s got a compost going for help, but my family composts vegetable, fruit, bread etc. scraps in our backyard. Your area might also have a green bin system, which often takes a lot more (so also meat, tissues etc.) than backyard compost. However, if you’ve also got a garden, that compost comes in pretty handy!
- Consider eating vegetarian once or twice a week. There are some really yummy recipes out there (I’m looking at you, broccoli pie! Also, falafels).