Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Sometimes, I think about our consumption and what we can do to make less of a "footprint," to use a popular buzzword.
For years, I've used reusable fabric bags to do my shopping. (One of my pet peeves is when cashiers automatically put my purchased items in a bag when I only have one or two things instead of asking me first if I need a bag.) Most of the bags I used I received as schwag at conferences I've attended. When reusable shopping bags popped up in mass quantities in every store, it seemed good ... and bad - like an interest in reducing waste prompted an increase in consumerism, and I wondered if it was counterintuitive.
Sometimes I forget to use my bags, or I don't have enough of them. For the most part, we reuse or recycle any plastic bags we bring home. We recycle lots of things, actually, even though our apartment complex has no recycling receptacle. But we could do better.
We take lunches in Tupperware containers - perhaps plastic is not the ideal option, but better than throwing away plastic baggies every day.
I have several travel coffee mugs, which I use when I make coffee at home, but I never think to take them with me to the coffee shop. I always wonder why Starbucks sells its iced drinks in recyclable plastic cups, but offers no separate bins for recyclables. (Also, didn't Starbucks years ago used to serve your drinks and pastry on plates and in ceramic mugs if you weren't taking them to go - or am I thinking of another place?)
I've cut way back on drinking bottled water. (We use a Brita water filter at home). When I do grab a bottle of water, I usually reuse the bottle a couple times - and then recycle it. But as a whole, Americans use way too much bottled water and I know I contribute to the problem.
The point of all this rambling is, I often think about ways I can do better, but I haven't taken as many steps to accomplish that as I could or should.
I stumbled upon a blog this week where a woman is attempting to go "A Week Without Plastic." It seems extreme - but it's an interesting look at how much plastic we use each day. (Also, love the idea for their "Week Without" series and may copy it one day here.) She's so far written about the first day, and the questions she raises are interesting and hopefully will inspire me to try a little harder. Check out the background here and the day one post here.
Have you made changes to reduce your waste? What are some simple things to cut out or change, and what is just too difficult to change?


Marina said...

I just saw a preview for a new documentary coming out called 'No Impact Man.' The family tries to go an entire year without making any kind of environmental impact. It looks awesome!

BennyV said...

Amen sister, Amen.

Nanette said...

I too try to use the cloth bags...sometimes I forget though. I've just moved the lot of them to the trunk of my car to make the whole process easier. I hope it works.

We have also started to use vinegar to clean just about everything-the stuff is amazing and terribly cheap.

I wish I had the conviction to do the cloth diaper thing but I have my limits.

Laura said...

very interesting stuff Tammy, I enjoyed reading the women's blog and look forward to her future posts.
I tried to change my habits as well, Ernesto was always getting on my case about drinking bottled water. I have actually ended up doing many things to help mother nature's cause ( cloth bags, aluminum canteen/Brita for water, not using the plastic bags at the grocery store for my veggies, trying to use more tupperware for my lunch). I may not be the speaker at the next "How to Live a Green Life Convention" but I am at least trying to do my part.

volksbloggin said...

This is a constant struggle for so many people and I think any effort is better than no effort. I can't stand it when people say they can't be inconvienced to recycle or use cloth bags for groceries. And the funniest thing is that all these steps toward being "green" are the things that our grandparents did daily. It's not a new approach as much as it is a trip back in time.

**And I love my cloth diapers, both for the environmental reasons and the savings on my bank account.**