Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reducing our Waste

We've been making some small changes around our house that I hope will add up.  Let me emphasize again that our motive in "going green" has nothing to do with the humanistic worship of nature over the Creator that we've come to associate with environmentalism.  Instead, what I mean by "going green" is trying to be a good steward of God's creation.  Even after the Fall, Adam and Eve were to tend the garden, so to speak.  It would be more difficult, but they were still supposed to exercise dominion over creation.  It seems like dominion is a poorly understood concept in our culture.  This misunderstanding has given dominion a negative connotation, leaving it only a step or two above exploitation.  But the dominion of the Bible is not negative at all and can more accurately be thought of as "tending" or "caring for".  The picture is that of a good ruler, not an evil despot.
Anyway, since my husband has remarked multiple times in the past about how much waste our family of 8 produces, I thought that would be a great place for us to start.  Here are a few things we've done that have drastically reduced our waste production.  In fact, by implementing these small changes, we've cut our trash in half!

1.  Re-usable grocery bags instead of plastic sacks.  Our local grocery store sells these bags for 99 cents each and then subtracts 60 cents per bag used each time you check out.  Not bad.  The bags pay for themselves after two shopping trips and they can be used over and over again.  Our family eats lots of groceries so we were bringing home 12-15 sacks every week. 

2.  Cloth diapers.  Okay, so this isn't a terribly recent change.  I started cloth diapering Calvin (10 months) from birth, but then regressed a little when he was around 6 months and had a bad rash which I later learned was Staph.  When Iwent back to cloth I saw that it wasn't contributing to his "rash" at all and that he actually did better with the cloth diapers.  (Thankfully, he's been clear now for a few weeks.)

3.  Cloth wipes.  This is a recent change and has been a really tough one for me.  Let's face it, this is the one time it would be really nice to just trash something and never deal with it again.  I've dedicated a small wet bag for holding these wipes until I can wash them, which I do daily.  I hang these outside to dry, along with the diapers, but that's a separate post.

4.  Bye-bye paper towels.  This was also a really tough transition.  I was a complete paper towel junkie!  I was so bad, I would use a paper towel for one tiny thing and then toss it.  I knew it was wasteful, but was caught in a rut.  Now, I do one extra load of laundry daily for just rags and hand towels.  We used paper towels in the place of napkins before, so now we use rags for that, too.  One of these days I'll invest in some cloth napkins.

5.  Cut down on the purchase of packaged items.  The big one in this category are drinks for the kids.  I used to buy 3 boxes of Caprisuns every time I went to the store.  The kids are just drinking water and milk most of the time now, which is far healthier for them, anyway. 

6.  Begin paying bills online.  While I don't think we'll ever switch over to online bill paying completely, we have started paying a few of them electronically.  The bills and giving that are the same amount each month are the ones we've begun paying online.  It's a small start, but I've noticed the difference in the amount of our mail already.

When you think about, these changes taken on their own each seem insignificant.  But together, they've enabled us to cut our waste production in half!  
Here are a few things we aren't doing yet that I know would cut our waste even more.

1.  Buy in bulk.  We have a Sam's here, but it's clear on the other side of town and I NEVER go there.  Once you pay for the gas each way I wonder if it's really that much of a savings.  I don't know.  One of these days I may start buying in bulk and I bet we could cut down even more on wasteful grocery packaging. 
2.  We get TONS of junk mail.  I've only recently learned that it's possible to eliminate almost all junk mail.  According to Michael Abbate of Gardening Eden, two services that will drastically reduce your junk mail for a small price are GreenDimes and 41Pounds.  If I have time, I may contact one of them this weekend.  It's definitely on my to-do list! 

3.  Recycling.  I know, I know.  This is a no brainer that you have all probably already been doing for years.  Recycling is not practiced widely in Texas and I only recently learned that there's a service that will come to our house and pick it up.  This is also on my to-do list.
I would love to hear what you're doing to cut down on your waste.  Please share!


  1. aside from the cloth diapering and cloth wipes, we do all of the above. We still get the plastic grocery sacks at the store though, because I use them as trash sacks in the bathrooms and for the diaper pail.

  2. Those are great steps! Our Kroger used to give $.03 cents per reusable bag, but now they give nothing! So with my 15 bags, I used to saved $.45 cents each trip, but now, nothing! But I still use those reusable bags. It makes carrying the groceries inside so much easier.

    I want to switch to cloth napkins. My girls will be making us some cloth napkins as part of their home ec class, but that is later on in the year.

    I have to take our recycle 20 minutes across town.....I take it weekly.

    Keep up the great work!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.