Reduce Your Trash
The very best thing you can do to save the planet and keep your baby from dealing with the environmental burden caused by garbage is to reduce the amount of trash you create each day. In today's disposable society that can be easier said than done. Here's how to minimize the amount of trash you create each day:
Leave it at the store. The best way to reduce waste is to keep it from coming home with you in the first place. Think twice before making a purchase to determine if you really, really need it. Try this old money-saving trick: Leave the item at the store and promise yourself that if you really need it, you will pick it up the next time you shop.
Make a waste-free lunch. Many American rely heavily on pre-packaged and disposable goods when packing lunches. Sure, they're convenient, but what is the cost of this convenience? Much of the trash generated in the average American home comes from the packaging on the food you buy.
Ditch those prepackaged goods and make a waste-free lunch by replacing disposable items with reusables. Use a reusable container instead of foil or baggies to wrap sandwiches and sides. Skip the bottled water or soda and fill a reusable bottle with your beverage of choice. Use cloth napkins and reusable utensils and toss it all together in a cloth tote or reusable cooler instead of a disposable bag.
Grasscycle. Bagging up leaves and other yard trimmings not only wastes your time and energy, it also puts a tremendous strain on the environment when it winds up in a landfill. Instead, try grasscycling. Leave grass clippings on your lawn where they will naturally decompose, hold in soil moisture, prevent freezing, and return nutrients to the soil.
Go paperless. Think twice before you hit that print button. Read documents, news, and magazines online. Request e-bills and pay bills over the web to save paper from bills and checks. Send out e-cards to save both paper and cash. At work, distribute memos and circulate documents by e-mail.
Be picky about packaging. If you have a choice between two products, go for the one with less packaging so that you will have less to throw away when you get it home. Also, seek out a product with packaging that can be reused for other purposes at home, such as a box that can later be used to ship a package or cardboard that will make an interesting art project.
Choose reusable over disposable. Steer clear of disposable products such as batteries, plates, cups, razors, and pens. Use reusable, rechargeable, or refillable products instead.
Consider pre-loved. When you need a new item, consider purchasing a gently used or pre-loved item to keep it out of the landfill and reduce the use of virgin materials.
Go back for seconds. At the dinner table, get in the habit of taking smaller portions and going back for seconds if you are still hungry. This strategy is not only good for minimizing nausea during pregnancy; it will also significantly reduce the amount of food wasted.
Don't buy it — borrow instead. Start a toy exchange with friends. As every parent knows, today's favorite toy is tomorrow's closet clutter. Instead of buying new toys every week, bring a box of your old toys to a friend's house and bring a box of their old toys home. Swap them back after a few weeks. Instead of buying books, movies, and magazines, exchange with your friends, utilize your local library, or visit a movie rental store.
Stop junk mail. Every time you order something online, fill out a warranty card, or join a club, your personal information is collected and sold to marketers who will flood your mailbox with offers that waste paper as well as your time.
To stop junk mail, start by contacting the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service to request that your contact information be removed from lists run by them (the DMA is a trade group of marketing companies). Removing your information from this mailing list will cost $1 but it will also help to stop junk mail for up to five years. This can be done online, or by sending a postcard or letter to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 15012-0643
Credit card offers are another big source of junk mail. Call 1-888-5 OPT-OUT (or 1-888-567-8688) 24 hours a day to stop any and all unsolicited credit card offers from coming your way.
According to the website WasteFreeLunches.org the average school-age child generates about 67 pounds of waste each year in his school lunches alone. That works out to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste created annually for just one average-size elementary school!