Easy Ways to go Green: Reducing Waste as a Family

Since having a kid and starting LuLaRoe the trash output for my family has multiplied exponentially. 

And I hate it.

I get about 100 new items in a week, and each one of those items comes wrapped in plastic bags. When I get an order ready to ship out I use a plastic bag to ship things, and then a label is printed so I trash the back of the sticky label. It's a lot of trash.

Then when I had my son we used disposable diapers so we started throwing 10-12 of those out every day, plus wipes, plus packaging for his toys, plus more food that was thrown on the ground ...

The green guilt was getting to me. 

So, a few weeks ago I looked around online for some ways to start eliminating waste as a family. Recycling is obviously the biggest way to minimize waste but unfortunately the recycling system in Alaska is a joke (at least in Fairbanks.)

A few things we already do;  never use ziploc bags just glass food storage containers, we don't use paper plates or cups, and we are very good about keeping electronics or lights off when not in use. 

Here are five things we are doing now to go green:

1. Wool dryer balls. Instead of using fabric sheets we switched to wool dryer balls. I LOVE them. I used to have to run the dryer for almost 90 minutes to get a load of laundry dry, and now it takes about 50 minutes. 

2. Reusable water bottles for everyone in the family - even toddler! I wouldn't have thought my son would know how to use a CamelBak but he picked mine up a few months ago and immediately figured it out. So, I got him this adorable kids one and he loves it. Also for kids if they like those food pouches you can easily make your own and use these reusable pouches!

3. Switch to cloth handkerchiefs versus tissues. One of my pregnancy symptoms has been a constant stuffy nose so I blow it, a lot. I found these organic cotton hankies on Etsy and they are so soft and cute! As with everything on this list not only is it environmentally friendly but will end up saving money in the long run since I'll never have to buy tissues again. 

The listing I bought was for a 10 pack of mystery fabric hankies. I love what I got! Some super cute flamingo ones and heart ones, and some blue pattern and plain colored ones. I also ordered a zipper sandwich bag to put the hankies in from her. She had hankie pouches but I liked the pattern of one of her sandwich bags better. 

4. Reusable k-cup pods. I just started drinking coffee daily about six months ago and that means I started throwing away 31 kcups a month. That's ridiculous! I don't know why I didn't think of switching to a reusable one sooner. It's just as fast and convenient, just put two spoonfuls of coffee grounds in and you're done.

5. Switching from paper towels to cloth towels. This is definitely a work in progress. We've always kept a stack of fabric towels on the counter that I'll use for spills or wiping our hands, but I've always cleaned the counter, windows or table with paper.  We have a few rolls of paper towels left and I'm hoping to be 100% cloth before they are gone!

With baby two on the way I'm looking into cloth diapering. It seems so overwhelming! But disposables are so wasteful I feel I would be such a hypocrite if I didn't switch to cloth. I looked into it briefly with my son but the upfront costs were so much more than disposables. Of course if I had decided to use cloth with him then I'd be able to diaper another baby for virtually free right now so I'm kicking myself for not doing cloth the first time!

I plan to set up a nice recycling station in our house when we leave Alaska next year. I'd like to put pictures on the bins so my son can help sort things out. We will also start composting. Here it's so cold six months out of the year in order to compost you have to have everything inside and we just don't have the space for it.

Another goal is to make all of our cleaning products myself. That way I'm not trashing cleaning bottles every few months. I figure it will be a fun activity to do with my kids as they get older too!

What are some ways you've gone green?
If you cloth diaper what tips/advice do you have for getting started?