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Last month, I wrote an article called, "Why It's Not Enough To Recycle and What I'm Doing Instead." Since then, I've made even more changes that reduce waste in my day-to-day life.
I do laundry unbearably often. For me, that usually means having to dedicate an entire day to doing it all at once. If there's one thing I procrastinate on, it's doing the laundry. It's not the part of putting the clothes in the washer and then the dryer. It's having to fold them and put them away. Like four times in-a-row. Not only that, but that much laundry makes for a lot of dryer sheets piling up.
I admit to being a little lazy sometimes, so after the dryer stopped and the clothes were folded, I would take the dryer sheet and toss it on the shelf near my dryer. I just didn't feel like walking to the trash can to toss it. I did this for probably close to a month. The shelf had been taken over by linty tulle. The collection of waste was literally right in front of me. So I searched for alternatives. I stumbled upon DIY dryer sheets, but felt too lazy to get all the ingredients it called for. I'd rather just buy a product that gets the job done and that I don't have to spend much time on. Laundry is not my passion, after all.
Reusable Dryer Balls
One day, I found these little guys in the line at Books-A-Million. I am not one to impulse-buy the goodies that are conveniently placed near checkout, but this was exactly what I'd been looking for. It was clearly a sign from the universe. I needed these in my life.
Even better: they come in hedgehog shape and pufferfish shape (I got the hedgehog one because that's what was at BAM). The pufferfish are just as adorable; dare I say, even cuter! You can't get much better than adorable and good for the environment!
Large Reusable Grocery Totes (Pack of 10)
Though this seems to be the first-step a person would take when exploring green alternatives, I had still been using plastic bags for grocery shopping. I recycled them, of course, but reducing should come first. I finally decided to invest in cloth shopping bags. Most of what I do is on a whim, and this is both good and bad. I am flexible in some ways, and stubborn in others. I desperately wanted to never use plastic bags again, so on a quick trip home from a day of errands, I bought cloth bags from the neighborhood Walmart. They are giant, colored red and white, with a chevron pattern. It ended up costing me more than I'd like to admit. I am more often than not a dumb shopper, but I recognize this in me, at least. You, on the other hand, can learn from my mistakes and buy a complete set for the same price I spent on just one type of bag.
Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
Since the majority of US towns do not have waste-free grocery stores, it is up to the consumer to manage their own resource usage. Plastic produce bags contribute heavily to waste, yet are often overlooked. Also, packaged fruits and veggies are more expensive (because of the packaging). The better alternative is simply bringing your own bag and picking them yourself. For example, I used to buy mushrooms in a blue container wrapped in plastic. There were always about ten in the pack, and it cost $2.49. When I picked out mushrooms individually, I was able to get 20 mushrooms for that same price. Double the mushrooms for the same price. It felt amazing! I guess I'm not always a bad shopper, after all.
In a slight addition to my previous post, I'm bringing up the good ole' Skoy Cloth. The reusable paper-towel replacers, fifteen times over. Well, they are back again. I can't get enough of these. Okay, they are just what I use to clean everything except clothes. No biggie.
I was still using paper towels to pick up my dogs' poops. I am not in a place where I can take my dogs out everyday to do their business, so they go in the house on the previously mentioned reusable puppy pads. This is great, but the poop has got to go somewhere! Additionally, I didn't want to mix my kitchen and bathroom Skoy cloths with poop. That's not sanitary! Voilà, the paw-print Skoy cloth!
Large Skoy Cloth with Paw Print
Remember: though these green items may seem expensive in the moment, the lasting nature of them will save you more money in the long-run than any convenient pack of single-use paper or plastic goods.
Don't fret if you, in your efforts to reduce your resource usage, end up using a little bit. This is a process that definitely takes some getting used-to. On my first shopping trip with my cloth bags, I ended up having more groceries than my bags could hold, and had to use two plastic bags. I felt guilty at first about this, but quickly reminded myself that I am still learning. Improvement is the goal. Effort is the goal. Perfection is not. In an ideal world, humans would produce no harmful waste, but humanity just isn't there yet. Relax, and do your best.