Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard these terms before, right? But I’ll bet that the one you do most is recycle. It’s the easiest, after all. But think about it. While recycling is good, not having much to recycle in the first place is even better.
I first started seriously thinking about these things when I saw the documentary, No Impact Man. There’s a blog and a book, too, about how one man in New York City chose to live for a year with as little impact on the earth as possible. This really got me thinking about the many products I buy and how I could personally reduce my own carbon “footprint” on the earth.
So what does this mean? And how do you do it? You don’t have to be as drastic as No Impact Man but you can do some small things which, over time, might inspire you to do even more. Start by looking at the things you use and buy frequently. Another good suggestion is to actually look at your trash. It sounds awful but you’ll get an idea of what exactly you are throwing away. For me, at one time, it was tissue. So I decided to purchase handkerchiefs (from a vintage thrift shop) and now that’s all I use. Another example, my husband started making our own peanut butter using bulk peanuts. Don’t want to make your own? Bring an empty glass jar or other container to a store with a bulk section (think East End Food Co-op or Whole Foods around here) and buy it in bulk instead. This way, you’re re-using the container and not creating waste.
Another great example is coffee. Who doesn’t love that the Main Library has a café? Well, instead of using a throwaway cup each time you get your fix, why not buy a lovely washable container with a lid (not to mention the very cool Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh name and logo on it in this case) and re-use it each time you buy a drink? Again, less waste.
Finally, another great thing to do is just to make your own products; I make most of my own personal care and beauty products (body lotion, conditioner, toner, face powder, lip balm, deodorant, etc.) using recipes from library books including Natural Beauty at Home and Natural Beauty from the Garden, both by Janice Cox. I store them in reusable containers and the bonus is I know exactly what ingredients are in them.
There are many ways to reuse things. How about you? I’d love to hear your suggestions.