One thing that I've noticed while working on this Contentment Challenge is how much less trash and recycling we have. I'm actually kind of shocked at how much less... This has led me to wonder how we could reduce even more of our waste. While we will probably never become wasteless, I do want to become a family that wastes less. (See what I did there? LOL!)
The Biggest Hurdle
One of the biggest hurdles for us to become wasteless is the fact that we do not live near a grocery with a bulk food section like Kroger or Whole Foods. The nearest is probably 45 minutes away. The time and gas for that drive are not feasible for us on a weekly basis. So, I will still shop my regular grocery and the closer Walmart most of the time, only going to a bulk section once or twice a month to stock up on pantry essentials like flour, grains, beans and spices.
Even with most of my shopping being done at a regular grocery, I have come up with a few ideas to help us transition to a lifestyle where we are wasting less on packaging.
Make it Homemade
I've started to make a lot of items from scratch. I make baguettes, noodles, mayonnaise, fries, and whipped cream from scratch always now. But there is so much more that I would like to try. Why not make a cake from scratch instead of using a box mix? Making homemade pasta could be a fun family or date night. I love making homemade pizza with my canned pizza sauce on Friday nights too. Making homemade can take longer, but if you start small and choose one thing to master at a time, you could make a big difference in your grocery bill and your waste.
Grow Your Own
I realize that not everyone has a yard where they can grow most of their own food. However, everyone can grow something. Even if you live in a tiny apartment you can grow your own herbs. A lot of herbs at the grocery come in those little plastic containers, so growing your own would prevent that waste. You don't even have to start your own seeds if you don't want. Buy a plant that is already started! Tomatoes and peppers are some other plants that do well in containers. I love this idea below from Better Homes & Gardens for growing your own lettuces or spinach!
Shop Your Farmers Market
Buy what you can from your local farmers market. Not only will this give you better quality food in most cases and help your local economy, there is less waste from most farmers market vendors. However, some still use those plastic produce bags. Which leads me to my next solution.
Buy Reusable Produce Bags (Or Don't Use Any)
Because I'm working on the Contentment Challenge and can't buy anything new right now, I've been just forgoing produce bags all together. Cashiers don't really love me when I'm checking out with oranges all over the conveyor belt, but so what. For some veggies, like celery, not having bags doesn't really matter, but because I do buy things like loose apples and oranges, I plan on buying a few reusable produce bags once the challenge is over. I really like these from Amazon. They're even biodegradable!
Bring Your Bag (Or Basket)
Our local grocery doesn't provide bags, actually. You either bring your own or you can buy some at checkout for ten cents each. We always take our own, most of which were free from various fairs or events. However, I do love my market basket from Freckled Hen Farmhouse for shopping, and I can't wait to use it at the farmers market this coming season. If you want something a little cuter than a free bag with advertising on it, take a look at Etsy. I really love this bag from Magnolia Roots. Or the one below that from The Oysters Pearl.
Shop the Outer Perimeter
We've all been told to shop the perimeter because that is where the majority of the real, whole foods can be found. But the perimeter is also where you can find less packaging (mostly) as well. A lot of your processed foods come in boxes with even more wrappers and plastic on the inside. Not only will you have less trash shopping this way, but your waistline will probably thank you too.
Replace Disposable Items with Reusable
A few disposable things that I'm contemplating replacing with reusable items are:
- Coffee filters: I could get a reusable one on Amazon for less than $4.
- Plastic Wrap: We've already started replacing some of the plastic wrap we use with these reusable Bee's Wraps and I love them! Hopefully I can make some of our own when we harvest our beeswax.
- Napkins: During the Contentment Challenge I've really tried to "elevate" dinner. I think its important to make the everyday special too, and not doing so can sometimes lead to discontent. I've started putting food into serving dishes (normally saved for company) instead of just the pans. We listen to records on my record player. I think that cloth napkins would be great to continue the mood that I want to set, which is that dinner with my family is important. Plus, we already switched color-coded was rags for the kids instead of paper towels. Just doing that has significantly decreased the amount of paper towel we use.
Do you have any other tips or tricks that you use around the house to decrease your waste? I'd love to know! Just leave me a note in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Erika Bault is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com