When it comes to living a greener life the obstacles in your way can be many. They can vary in size from your commute to work in another town everyday to producing enough waste to take the trash out 3 times a week.
Now some obstacles like the commute can be very challenging to change due to circumstances outside your control but other problems like how much trash you produce is something that can be tackled.
How much trash you produce in your home is a combination of the following factors,
Reducing how much trash you produce is a task that requires you to come at it from multiple angles. There is a mental angle that requires you to question purchasing decisions and buying patterns that lead to disposable products into your life. An example of this is do you buy the pre bagged apples or the loose apples. The pre bagged apples are more convenient and at my grocery store cheaper but they come with a plastic bag that must be thrown out. The loose apples can easily be corralled in a cotton mesh bag but bringing them requires forethought and preparation.
The second angle you have to attack the trash problem from is physical. What everyday products or things do you use that are currently disposable that can be substituted for something more sustainable.
Today I specifically want to talk about some things that I use in my kitchen to reduce the amount of trash that I produce on a daily basis.
Silicone Food Storage Bags
The first item I want to talk about is a personal favorite of mine. I love these bags for their versatility in use and their reusability. These bags can be used in temperatures from the deep freezer to the stove top and when used properly are 100% leak proof. I use mine on a daily basis from storing cheese in the fridge, marinating meat and packing parts of my lunch.
Now in the interest of clarity I will be upfront and say that these bags are a type of plastic. But it is a plastic derived mainly from silica a.ka. sand verses petroleum like most other plastics. It is widely agreed among chemical engineers that silicone is chemical inert and more stable than commonly used petroleum plastic bags.
For more info on these bags check out a lengthier post I did here and if you are interested in buying them they can be found in The Sustainable Life Shop.
Cotton Produce Bags
These bags are a mainstay for my grocery shopping trips and they eliminate the need for those flimsy plastic bags in the produce section. You can find bags like this in many places but in my experience bigger is better for most produce so I would stay away from any bags smaller than 6x6 inches. I would make sure to get bags that have a drawstring closure to keep things contained when they are in the cart.
Stainless steel drinking cups
While not as stylish as some glass cups or as fun to look at as some plastic cups, stainless steel ones are the wave of the future as far as I am concerned. Made from food grade steel that is highly resistant to heat, cold, wear and tear and dropping you really can’t go wrong with stainless steel.
I have dropped mine several times on my tile floors and have not seen them take any damage. The worst thing that can usually happen to these cups is they can be dented if dropped badly or otherwise impacted. But in most cases the dent is aesthetic and many times with a bit of practice the dent can be popped out.
They also now come in a variety of types, sizes and styles to choose from. In my house we have three different types of cups that we used on a regular basis. I have an insulated cup that handles hot and cold drinks without condensation or finger burning issues. I also have a set of 16 oz drinking cups for everyday use and a smaller set of 10 oz cups for quick drinks or for the kid once they get big enough to handle them.
If taken care of stainless steel cups can last a lifetime and if one does get dented or damaged to the point it can’t be used anymore then it is 100% recyclable. The point is you can’t go wrong with stainless steel cups. At the very least you can use these to replace any plastic ones you currently have and save the glassware for special occasions.
Plant Based Sponges
One of the basic items used in the kitchen is the sponge. You have to use something to clean those dishes and wipe down the counters and for many people the sponge is the tool of choice. But most sponges you find at the local store are made from plastic or other material that you just have to toss when it's worn out. Now as far as I know there is no kitchen sponge that can last forever and I’m fairly sure you wouldn't want it to. But the better option is a kitchen sponge that is made from natural materials than can be composted when worn out. I have found no difference in cleaning ability and durability in the plant based sponges I’ve used in my home kitchen. In my opinion they work just as good and last just as long and when they are all done you compost them instead of tossing them out.
The rest of the story....
Reducing or eliminating trash from your life is hard. I have been trying for years and I do ok. I say ok because compared to my neighbors I am a trash reduction master and I only put out my can for collection once every 4-6 weeks. But compared to the true masters of waste reduction I am a gluttonous failure and it bothers me every time I think about it.
I could do better than I do but I am also limited by my living location. There are no bulk food stores and most produce that is not prepackaged is noticeably more expensive. Unfortunately I have to consider things like my finances and not just how green and sustainable a purchase is.
But if I have piqued your interest in some of the products above please check out some of the links I have provided below for examples of what I use or the actual item I use in my kitchen.
Stainless Steel Drinking Cups
Plant Based Sponges
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.