Finding ways to save money, reduce waste, have less of a carbon footprint, etc. are all steps in the right direction to start living more sustainably. Sometimes that is not easy to do though. We almost have to train ourselves to look for more sustainable ways of accomplishing tasks because we have been conditioned to purchase a product to get the job done instead. Society will tell you to prioritize convenience over considering impact; however, getting creative by using items you have on hand can be one of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment.
If we have been conditioned to use conventional products to accomplish certain tasks, then we should be able to retrain ourselves to use what we already have on hand instead. In many cases, using what we already have on hand ends up actually saving us money and time in the long run. Not to mention it’s usually less of an impact on the environment also!
Check out these six zero waste hacks that won’t cost you any extra money and will help you think about the items you already have in a more sustainable way. To read part one of this series, click HERE.
And we’re back…
1. Reuse mason jars or other containers that you have on hand to hold refillable items.
I discovered the world of refillable household products when I started shopping at my local zero waste store. If you have something that you use up regularly like dish soap, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, beard or hair oil, tea, literally almost anything you can think of… it’s probably offered in bulk. What’s great about this is that you can use a container from home to transport and store the product. By doing this, you will contribute less to a landfill versus if you were to use a disposable bag or container to transport or store the item. What’s also great is that buying bulk items is generally cheaper than prepackaged individual items. So don’t recycle your mason jars or other containers that you think might be good for holding various household items, instead reuse them time and time again to transport and store bulk items that you use on a day-to-day basis.
2. Reuse foil from cream cheese blocks.
People generally like to buy their cream cheese in easy open resealable plastic containers so this tip wouldn’t apply in those cases. BUT if you buy your cream cheese in the small cardboard boxes instead, not only can you recycle the cardboard packaging, but you can reuse the foil inside. After I use the whole block of cream cheese, I will wash the sheet of foil, let it dry, and then use it to store small items like half of a tomato or an onion in the fridge. You can even use it to cover a small bowl or container.
3. Use empty spice jars for bulk spice refills.
This tip goes along with tip number one in this blog post. Many natural food or zero waste stores offer spices in bulk for purchase. Instead of paying for a new spice jar (because you’d also be paying for the packaging), use your empty spice jars to hold your refills. You save money and extra packaging with this tip. I particularly love to use this tip for spices that I don’t use often and do not need much of. I will simply fill the jar and then mark the jar with the name of the spice on the top with a wax pencil. If you don’t have a wax pencil, you can purchase one here.
4. Reuse gently used tissue paper, gift bags, etc. for future gift giving.
My husband always teases me when I receive a gift because I like to preserve the gift wrap it came in. BUT I like to remind him that I have not had to buy tissue paper in YEARS because I like to save the wrapping. I now proudly have a bin in the garage full of gently used tissue paper and gift bags/boxes from different occasions over the years. I promise there is a reason for my tissue paper madness :).
5. Use reusable tote bags at the store.
This tip is probably the most well known sustainability tip out there. Reusable bags are everywhere! We have all probably received a reusable bag as a marketing gimmick from an event or an employer, the thing is… most of us don’t use them! They end up being stashed away or donated. These bags are PERFECT for transporting various items to various events, but they are particularly great for transporting groceries from the store. I think people think it’s more of a hassle to use reusable bags than it is to use disposable bags, but I have found it to be the exact opposite. If I come home with disposable grocery bags, I now have to deal with them which generally means going straight to the landfill. If I use reusable bags, I simply take the items out, fold the bags, and store them in my linen cabinet for later use. I highly recommend acquiring at least three reusable tote bags for your everyday needs. If you have a family with kids, I recommend a couple extra.
6. Try to do your laundry all at the same time.
If you have to do multiple loads of laundry, try to complete this task in one swoop. What I mean is, you can actually save money by drying your loads immediately one after the other until you are done. By doing this, you are not using energy to heat up your dryer before every load, instead you are putting load after load in the dryer while it was already heated from the first cycle. With this tip, you can save energy and money.
It has been a lot of fun remembering and sharing some of the hacks that I use on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to accomplish tasks that also reduce my impact on the environment. I hope these tips inspired you to look at the items around your home in a different way or to give them a new purpose.
I will continue to share these hacks with you as I remember them, but I would love to hear from you too! What are some sustainable tips, tricks, or hacks you use regularly that reduce your impact on the environment? Leave a comment below!
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Until next time,
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