Waste One Less (Join Me!).

Welcome to the first installment of "Favorite Things Week!"

We'll be highlighting favorite causes, businesses, and products that lighten our loads and bring us (and others) joy.

Today I invite you all to join me in a "Waste One Less" challenge!

 Many of us are facing a "new normal" during this pandemic. Most of us are cooped up at home and are trying out new things for a number of reasons.

Some of us have extra time on our hands to declutter and focus on overdue home projects.
Some of us want to stretch what we already have to reduce trips out in public.
Some of us are swamped with work and homeschool and need ways to save time.

The goal of this post is to help all of "us" in some way or another - while, in seemingly small ways-helping the environment and economy

My husband often jokes that I could have raised our family during The Great Depression. While I doubt I could have done that (I love and rely on my modern conveniences), we do our best to live simply and resourcefully.

Our grandparents had a lot of great ideas when it came to conscious consumption and living. Obviously, a lot of those "quirks" came from the fact they survived literal famine and war. We are so fortunate to have comforts of living in the 21st century, and I think we can learn a lot from the generations before us and their sustainable ways of living. It also seems somewhat more understandable considering the current pandemic our world is facing (with many facing lack of income, grocery availability, and other necessities).

Here are some practices we implement (or have implemented) to "waste one less thing".

This thing can be material goods, money, time, or energy. None of this includes hoarding anything, spending tons of time or effort (which takes away from other important things), or depriving our family in any way for the sake of savings.

If you find any of the following helpful, show off how you "waste one less" and tag me on any of your social media handles using "@sisdidyouknow"! :) 

Food & Drink

Consider using a meal plan (loose or more structured). Shop your pantry, fridge, and freezer before buying new groceries. I often think "can we go one more day?" Try out a new recipe using what you have on-hand to reduce food waste. (It's reported that Americans waste 30-40% of the nation's food supply!)

Connect with neighbors by organizing a community food drive. Many neighborhoods now have Facebook group pages or apps that help connect us even in distance. Consider posting and asking folks to set out non-perishable foods on their porch at a certain day/time. Take a drive to pickup and deliver to a local ministry.

Start a compost! Even if you don't garden, you can compost most food scraps except for meat and bones. Here is a quick guide.

Save citrus peels to make scented cleaning vinegar, garbage disposal refreshers, and infused olive oil (think roasted vegetables in a lemon-garlic-rosemary oil - YUM).

Use bones and veggie scraps to make homemade stock in your slow cooker (store in freezer jars until needed). I know a carton of stock is not much money, but this stock is more flavorful and creates less waste. Also it's convenient to have several jars in a pinch!

Try your hand at homemade baking - bread, muffins, pie crust,  - to cut down on one-use plastic and aluminum.

Try your local farmers' market for produce, dairy, meats, eggs, syrups and honeys. Many have a container "trade off" program that cuts down on waste, too. I've also heard great things about CSAs (we don't have any here yet, sadly!)

Use these mesh produce bags and reusable grocery bags when shopping at the grocery store. If you do end up with plastic bags (when doing pickup or you forgot your bags - it's ok!) find a place to recycle them. Or save a few and tie on your leash for dog cleanup, toss in your diaper bag for dirty diapers/clothing, and in your car for travel trash bags and travel potty liners.

Give glass bottles new life. My mom saves wine bottles and has made several bottle trees. She also saves some liquor bottles to hold dish soaps and detergents. They also make great holders for infused oils, syrups (like homemade elderberry), and honey.

Cook a meal at home and donate the money you would have spent dining out to a great cause. I first learned of this idea in college. The name of the nonprofit is escaping me, but essentially, a group of gals would get together and cook/share a meal. Each attender would donate $15-or so to "pay" for the meal and tip. That money would then go to a local nonprofit or food bank. This month our family had a DIY pizza night and donated to Loaves & Fishes.

Home Goods

Safely shop Facebook swap pages to save money and reduce packaging waste for furniture and home decor items

Host a "swap party" with some friends. Everyone brings 4-5 items they no longer want and everyone "shops", with unclaimed items donated. This can also be done virtually ;)

Purchase washable pillow covers and inserts instead of separate toss pillows for every occasion. You can switch out the covers for different seasons instead of having too many pillows (and tossing them out).

Consider investing in higher-quality furniture that you won't have to toss one day. That doesn't necessarily mean spending a ton, either. One of the great things about thrift stores is that older furniture is made from real wood and better materials.

Give new life to (some) roadside items. Some of my favorite home pieces we found on the curb. Obviously, use your best judgment here, as some pieces may contain mold (or bugs). 

Clothing and Textiles

Look into local ministries before "big box" thrift stores. We love donating to Goodwill! But when it comes to clothing and household goods, we reach out to local ministry partners before donating there. Often times places like shelters, foster care centers, and other organizations have an immediate need the items can go towards.

Toss old undies but donate gently used bras to "I Support The Girls" - a nonprofit that provides personal care items to women facing homelessness.

Turn old t-shirts into a throw blanket or quilt (we used this company and LOVE ours. email me for 40% off!) or cut into strips for cleaning or makeup removal (more ideas here, too!)

Sadly, I am not very good at sewing, but I've found mending clothing doesn't require too much skill and can save some favorite shirts, sweaters, and pants from being tossed.

Donate used towels and blankets to your local humane society! They're always in need.

Kids' Stuff

Consider consigning! And shopping consignment! Many of our favorite clothing items for our girls are hand-me-downs and bought from consignment sales like "Just Between Friends". I also purchased several larger toy items from there- like our cozy coupe and wooden block sets. Maggie's "big girl bed" was purchased on Facebook market. Not only was it cheaper, but it's "cute vintage" and made of real wood.

Give new life to nursery items. We no longer needed Maggie's changing table, so we cut it into two pieces to create a puzzle table and a craft station. We created a DIY water/sensory bin table from scrap wood - saving us about $70 and a lot of packaging waste.

Don't toss those puff jars! They make great DIY travel containers for other snacks and small toys,  and "waterproof" (with caution) holder for wallets and watches at the beach and pool.

Elderberry syrup and gummies have become quite popular. We love making our own syrup in the Instantpot. It saves a lot of money and also reduces plastic waste. I buy our elderberries here ($19 will make around 4 quarts. A small plastic jar at the store is around $13).

Home Office and Paper Goods

Donate magazines to doctors' offices, nursing homes, or school art rooms

Reuse mailers from Amazon, UPS, etc to mail gifts and packages (just mark out the old labels with sharpie)

Recycle old laptops and computer accessories for free through programs like Dell mail-back.

Give cardboard boxes one more round, by making "rockets" and forts, art canvases, and DIY crafts before taking to a recycling center.

Shred or tear up old papers and add to your compost (or take to an office supply store for shredding/recycling)

Use old paper bags and/or gift bags to make seedling packets (that you can easily replant) or for kids' crafts. Toss gift tissue in your compost - or insert in toilet paper/paper towel tubes for homemade fire starters.

Energy Savings (little changes can add up)

Consider hanging clothes to dry instead of always running your dryer. Use dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

Invest in black out curtains (and also help littles sleep longer ;))

Limit oven use with your slow cooker or Instantpot to "bake" potatoes, "roast" chicken, etc

Switch out bulbs to LED (once your regular ones have burned out already, of course)

Conscious Consumption Overall

During this crazy time of life, a lot of us are now focusing on what we buy and from where those things come.

This week, it's been fun pouring into our local economy by purchasing our coffee from a local roaster (their bags are recyclable!), eggs from a neighborhood farmer, and some new skincare from a company that manufactures in the US.

As frugal as I am, it makes more sense to pay a little more for higher quality and to support our neighbors.

Happy reducing, reusing, and recycling! 

Follow along on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest for ideas and to enter to win some fun "happies".