12 Ways to Make Less Trash and Go Green

When I think of trash, the first image that pops into my head are the huge piles of trash from the hilarious movie, Idiocracy, starring Luke Wilson. He gets cryogenically frozen in the year 2006 and wakes up 500 years later in a land full of idiots, with piles of trash as large as skyscrapers all around. The movie is so silly, which is right up my alley, but it really made me wonder if this is really our children’s future. 
As a family of four, our trash output has certainly increased over the years and I’ve been wanting to change that. An added bonus of reducing your trash is that many of these methods are also much more frugal and will save you time going to the store, which is fantastic for a mom like me of a baby and a toddler! 

Click here for my post on CSAs

#1 – Join a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture

Joining a CSA in your area means that you would buy into a share of a local farm and get weekly deliveries (or pick it up yourself) of whatever is fresh and in season at that farm. This helps to reduce trash because you won’t have the packaging that comes with packaged produce, meat and dairy from the grocery store.

#2 – Buy Food in Bulk

The biggest offender of trash production in our family is packaging from food, so why not buy in bulk? While it does help to buy in bulk from places like Cosco and BJ’s, I’m referring to buying from natural food stores and Co-op’s. These places sell organic food in bulk, which greatly reduces packaging and trash your family will produce. See Azure Standard or visit Local Harvest to find a co-op near you.

Click here for my series on cloth diapering

#3 – Cloth is Your Friend – Cloth Diapers Instead of Disposables, Mama Cloths, Reusable Toilet Paper, and Cloth Napkins

Cutting down on all the paper products we use on a daily basis will really help reduce trash production. Cloth napkins is an easy way to start, as many of us already have some of those wasting away in the “holiday” box in the attic.

Using cloth diapers can be an intimidating thing to start, even when you really believe in its benefits, speaking from experience. But it drastically reduces your trash output and the very harmful effects disposables have sitting in landfills. But using some cloth is still better than the alternative, if it’s hard for you to completely switch. Baby steps in the right direction are better than no steps at all!

As for the mama cloths and reusable toilet paper…you’re probably picturing some old dude with a couple of rotten teeth and a long white beard out in a broken-down out-house in the backwoods of (fill in with your state of choice). We have gone super crunchy and now use cloth toilet paper and love it! See my post on that no sewing project here. Penniless Parenting has a sewing tutorial for mama cloths if you’re ready to take the plunge (reusable maxi pads)!

#4 – Make Your Own Baby Wipes

If you’re already cloth diapering, it isn’t so much harder to take the next step and have reusable baby wipes that you throw in the diaper pail along with the cloth diapers to wash. The easiest method? Use baby washcloths and spray with water (add some drops of lavender, witch hazel, or smear on some aloe for something extra). See my post on making your own baby wipes here with no sewing. I’ve used this before and I find them to be MORE effective in wiping off stuck on you-know-what than even brand-name wipes like Huggies! This is a serious money saver as well, especially if you buy all-natural or organic wipes.

Other green ways to make baby wipes include reusing old clothes. Cut them into pieces the size of wipes and you’ve reused, recycled and gone green!

#5 – Use Old Bathroom and Kitchen Hand Towels as Paper Towels

As my first set of bathroom hand towels and kitchen washcloths and towels began to get stained, I decided they’d be a perfect to use instead of paper towels (it was also a wonderful excuse to buy pretty new towels!). So, now I use these old towels to wipe up spills and other messes and they are way more effective than thin paper at absorbing liquids. To make it convenient, I keep the towels on-hand in the kitchen and bathroom and throw them in my cloth diaper pail, then wash in hot water with the diapers.

Earth Responsible Toy Companies 

#6 – Buy Products with Less Packaging, like from Green Toys 

The packaging that comes with toys and electronics is truly ridiculous – we’ve all had those cursing moments when we’re very unsuccessfully trying to open a toy or a phone that comes in the mail. Often the packaging takes up two or three times more room in the trash than the actual product would! So, this does require research to buy from a company that uses less and recyclable packaging. Another way to avoid this is to buy used.

Other examples of excessive packaging include juice boxes, yogurt containers, fun size snacks, and individually wrapped slices of cheese. Of course, I agree, the convenience is wonderful and you might need to purchase them every now and then, but the trash they produce outweighs the convenience for me.

#7 – Compost, Compost, Compost

We don’t have an official compost of sorts (yet – it’s on the list!), but we do have a huge pile of yard waste in our woods. We chop up branches and large twigs into small pieces with the loppers, throw in leaves and grass clippings and it decomposes into fantastic, black soil that we use in the planting beds and yard. Learn more about composting from http://www.howtocompost.org/. Composting your food scraps will reduce trash as well.

Homemade Green Household Cleaners 

#8 – Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products and Reuse Bottles and Jars to Store

Making your own green cleaning products is not only cheaper, it’s so much better for the environment and the safety of our families. Plus, you can reuse old shampoo and conditioner bottles and even food containers to store the products. I’ve found my homemade products do just as good of a job, if not better than store-bought ones, and I’m not throwing out containers after they’re all gone.

I’ve also been making my own laundry and dishwashing detergent and buy the ingredients in bulk from Amazon, which reduces trips to the store and packaging waste.


DIY Green Lotion Recipe

#9 – Make Your Own Cosmetics

I’ve been making my own lotion, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, hair cream, and body scrub for a while now and love how I don’t have to worry about chemicals, high prices and excessive packaging anymore. I’ve also reused old containers in which to keep them, so I really reduced trash output!

DIY Wool Dryer Balls

#10 – Eliminate Dryer Sheets and Make Your Own Wool Dryer Balls

Dryer sheets are thrown away after each use – such a waste! Plus they are full of harmful chemicals that haven’t been throughly researched. For peace of mind, to save some cash, and for the environment, make your own from wool roving or yarn. These last for years and will save you trips to the store!

#11 – Use a Mop with Washable Pads

I will never go back to having a Swiffer now that I’ve got my Haan Steam Mop. This puppy is a powerful floor cleaner, cleaning hardwoods, laminate, tile and even carpet with just water and a reusable microfiber pad. No chemicals on the floor to wonder about either! Plus, it heats up to the boiling point so it really kills germs. There is absolutely no waste once you get this mop!



#12 – Buy Used, Share, Barter and Donate

This is sort-of a no-brainer, but donating clothes when you’re done with them creates no trash what-so-ever, and does a lot of goodwill. You can even donate to other friends, as many of mine have done for me! And when it comes to kids, buying used just makes sense because children, especially babies, outgrow clothes faster than you can blink. We have saved many hundreds of dollars from buying at huge consignment sales, like The Kids Clothesline. The last day of the sale, they always have everything 50% off, so a $1.50 shirt from The Children’s Place becomes $0.75!

A great website for bartering is freecycle.org. You join a freecycle group in your own community or town and post when you have something you want to give away or need, then swap with someone looking for the same thing! I put my old Swiffer Wet Jet up and someone took it right away – it didn’t even have the cleaning container anymore and the lady still wanted it! I was also able to score some New Balance and Nike tennis shoes for my boys from a lady who lived a couple of minutes away and they were barely used. Boo yah!

See, going green does not mean losing the green in your wallet. You will save a lot and feel good about what you’re doing for the future!

This green post is being shared at:
Fantabulous Fridays at Little Becky Homecky
A Pinteresting Party at Tutus and Tea Parties
Tiny Tip Tuesday at Nature’s Nurture
Sustainable Wednesdays at Frugally Sustainable
Simple Lives Thursdays at Gnowfglins 

About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

Comments

  1. Great round up of ideas on this post. We use cloth diapers, and I have been toying with the idea of reusable pads for me. Thanks for the link on that! I also make our own dryer balls too. I am stopping by from the Moms Mingle Monday hop. Have a great weekend!

  2. Awesome ideas to go green! I do a few of these now but some are new to me. I’ll be checking some of those reuseable ideas out. Thanks for sharing at my Pinteresting Party this week.

  3. Wow, what a great round up! We’re doing a lot of what’s on this list already, and tackling the rest, step by step. Thanks for sharing this awesome post over at Tiny Tip Tuesday this week!

  4. I love the idea of getting rid of dryer sheets! I’m going to have to make some wool dryer balls now….We have a garden, but very little space (rented townhome), so we haven’t started composting. I guess we should start small with a bucket or something…hmmm…

    Thanks for the great tips! You’ve got me thinking! 🙂

  5. Fantastic ideas here. Thanks for sharing! We already do a lot of these and just recently started composting. Can’t wait to try some of these out. Thanks again!

  6. I’m am always on the lookout for ways to be a little greener. I’m no where near as awesome as you, but maybe one day. I’m definitely a follower and can’t wait to see what else I find on your site.

    – Erin from crafty-biggers.blogspot.com

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