Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Less-Is-More Resolutions

Last year I made a few resolutions, which I am happy to share, I actually kept.

No really. I did.


I'll admit, the fanny pack thing didn't happen.

This year I've decided to see if I can make it 2-in-a-row by setting some more goals. Unlike last year's tongue-in-cheek resolutions, these will be a little more difficult to keep.

Because they're real.

And since they have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss, these should last a little longer than the first week of January.

So, here is my list, in no particular order.

1. Consume less.

Since we don't have a weekly garbage pick-up (at $60/month), we take our trash into the dump/recycling center ourselves. Our goal was to make this trip on a monthly basis, but so far, we haven't been able to get past the 2 week mark. With our recycling credit (newspapers, cans, glass) our total cost to dump is between $2 and $5.00/load.

The price is not the issue. It is the amount of garbage that we are taking in. Four of our five cans are usually filled with recylcables. In our area, there are only 2 kinds of plastic that can be recycled, all the others head to the landfill. Before you start thinking "Uh-oh, another nutty environmentalist..", let me assure you that I am not. Well, I am, but not one of those weird incense-burning, pot-smoking, free-love kind of environmentalists. I'm more like the milk and cookies with a hug at bedtime kind of nut.

My resolution isn't just to decrease my trips to the dump, but to decrease our family's dependency on all the items that we don't always need to purchase or that come with hard-to-dispose-of packaging.

Such as:

Packaged foods~We all know that most packaged foods are processed foods. And we know that those aren't good for us. But there are plenty of whole foods that come in cartons, bags, boxes, and plastic.

Solution? Buy in bulk. Whole Foods (and many others) have an awesome selection of healthy beans, pastas, nuts, dried fruits, and spices, not to mention honey, olive oil, and grind-yourself nut butters. Cut consumption by bringing your own bags and containers. Most places will weigh your empty containers and subtract that from the filled weight. Mesh produce bags are another way to cut wasteful packaging. (Store bulk items in glass canning jars that you probably already have!) Make your own mixes, seasoning "packets", breads, and yogurt. Not only are these a healthier alternative to store-bought, it is a good way to keep the grocery budget in check. (I'll share more tips later for saving at the grocery store!)

Reusable bread bags~My Mister "gets" me!

Cleaning products~Most of us have at least on cupboard filled with cleaning supplies. One for the toilet, one for the shower, one for the floor, etc...Not only are most of these products toxic, they take up space in the house and the garbage can.

 Solution? Make your own. It's surprising what a little white vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap can do. Just be careful reusing bottles that had toxic chemicals in them as they can become even more toxic and even deadly. (Bleach & ammonia for instance.) Also, forgo that expensive, toxic laundry soap and make your own for pennies. (White vinegar makes a great fabric softener and a gallon usually costs less than a dollar.)

Drying clothes~Most people don't think twice about running an electric dryer, until the power bill arrives. The energy wasted on a load of laundry is only second to the stove/oven. The power comes from somewhere, and someone is going to pay for that power. Probably you.

Solution? Install a clothesline for outside drying during the warmer months and use a drying rack for the winter. I have 2 hanging racks in front of my woodstove and am hoping to purchase a wooden rack from here. And check out the repurposed baby gate here. Save the dryer for the important stuff, like jeans. Nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than crunchy jeans...

 Speaking of clothes...

Clothing~Ever notice the poor workmanship of the clothing nowadays? Most are sewn in foreign countries, possibly by underage employees, who are probably not being paid enough of a wage to live on. Remember Levi jeans? Sorry to tell you, but these are not made in America anymore.

Solution? Buy from second-hand stores. These stores are not the disgusting places they once were. Second-hand shopping has become en vogue, and retailers are finally understanding that we don't want to purchase items that have last year's Christmas gravy stained to the front. In our area, we actually have some pretty classy thrift stores that we have scored numerous deals at. And some of these stores actually benefit other organizations such as, our local women/children's shelter, hospice, boys & girls clubs, etc...(Local people~check out The Red Hat Thrift Store, The Hospice Thrift Store, and in Vancouver, Plato's Closet.)

Sometimes you'll even find furniture worth saving!

Solid wood bed for $124...My grandmother has the same bed and paid $1200 new!
Toiletries~This is kind of a touchy subject for me.

Because I'm a girl.

I like my mousse, hair spray, makeup, razors, deodorant, lotions, and the like, but there is a lot of packaging involved with this stuff. Not to mention, most of it is overpriced, toxic, and marketed in a way that makes a woman think she is less of a woman to not have these things.

Solutions? Don't buy into the lie. Yes, I still use mousse, hairspray, makeup, and thankfully, deodorant (most of the time☺), but I'm more choosy and I don't use this stuff everyday. I take into account how long something will actually last. I make what I can at home, and make purchasing decisions based on whether the package can be reused or not. Crazy? Maybe, but I have raised 6 girls and that's a lot of "stuff". There are recipes on the web for making your own deodorant, soaps, shampoos, and lotions. If that's not your thing, try a mineral salt deodorant stick that can last for an entire year. Use coconut oil right out of the pantry (I store mine in a little cup on my bathroom counter.) instead of expensive moisturizers and lotions, and try making your own bar soap. (I'll be sharing a recipe for shampoo bars soon!) I use mineral powder makeup and reuse the little jars for important things like scrapbooking embellishments, buttons, and tacks. And disposable razors? No way. Use a razor with replaceable heads, or even better, an electric razor.

Finally, make things that you use a lot of. For us, it's candles. When the winds blow, we're the last to get our power back on. Instead of purchasing some made-in-China (or wherever) candles, we roll our own from beeswax sheets.

It's a fun way to spend an afternoon and there is NO GARBAGE to pack to the cans.

And that's it. My New Year's resolution for the year.

Just one.

I should be able to manage just one, dontchathink?☺


This post is linked to the Living Well Blog Hop.


Candy C. said...

If you're gonna pick just one, that is a GREAT one! I try really hard to consume less too.
About the jeans on the line though, since hubby irons all of ours, they come out better dried outside! ;-)
Happy New Year!!

Kim said...

Candy~Ironing crunchy jeans is good to know! Now I'm going to have to try this! :)

April's Homemaking said...

Great goal, I love the idea of consuming less, I would love to reduce our trash as well. Wonderful ideas, thanks for sharing!!

hoosier girl said...

My crunchy jeans tip is a compromise-line dried then 5-10 minutes in the dryer. I also use that method for guest towels. No crunchies! Happy New Year!

Abbi said...

Great resolution! That is one of my long term goals as well. We keep working to get better in this area. It is fun to look back and see the progress we have made.

Anonymous said...

I think it is hysterical that you refer to this as just one resolution, ;), but it is very inspiring! I have been thinking about the clothesline for a while now, but it seems to add so much time to my laundry, and as a single mom with a full-time job, that kind of time is hard to find. I have been working on the packaging thing, though, and I think I could concentrate on doing better there. I will be following along for ideas, thanks!