You may recall that I have decided to make it a priority for my family to reduce our carbon footprint by making green swaps. My plan for the year (and beyond) is to swap out household products for greener choices as we run out and to reduce the amount of food waste in our home each month.
This month was a little slower than January and we didn’t seem to run out of too many things. You may recall that I am only replacing items as we use what we already have on hand. It seemed like an even bigger waste to go out and buy all new products. Not to mention that all at once kind of approach seemed daunting. Slow and steady gives me time to make meaningful choices that will be sustainable.
I have used the Maybelline Master Precise Skinny eyeliner for a while. It ranks a 5/10 on the Think Dirty app, so while it’s not terrible, I’ve never loved the product, but used it for lack of finding anything else. I recently ran out and figured now was as good a chance as any to find a cleaner alternative. I figured this will just be an intense process of trial and error because I am really picky about eyeliner, so I went for the first clean line on the Target shelf- Burt’s Bees. The Burt’s Bees Nourishing Eyeliner ranks as a 0 on the Think Dirty app. I love that it applies really well and doesn’t smudge throughout the day, but still removes easily. I don’t love that it’s a pencil and will need to be sharpened, but it’s a good enough substitute for now. Burt’s Bees does make a retractable version, but they did not have the shade I wanted in stock. Definitely giving that one a shot next time!
Another swap I made in February was for reusable produce bags. I really didn’t think I used many of those plastic produce bags when shopping, until I brought my reusable ones and was worried I didn’t have enough! I received the bags as part of the Mighty Fix from The Mighty Nest. The Mighty Fix is a subscription service that sends you one green product a month. The idea is that you slowly add greener routines into your every day life so that they are more likely to stick, which I love because this is exactly my philosophy. It also includes literature about why the product you received is a beneficial swap, which really helped me see why the change was so important. Typically the Mighty Fix is $11/month, but if you use code OKAYESTFIX you can get your first fix for $3/month! All of their products are researched and carefully selected, so it really takes the leg work out of easy, green swaps!
My Next Green Swap
I’ve really been trying to be more conscious of our paper towel usage. I think once we run out, I’m going to tackle life without them. I’m willing to give it a chance, but with small kids, there are still a lot of spills that happen on a daily basis. My concern is that I won’t be able to keep up with the extra laundry that will create and this change might still be a few years off. I know many of you have already ditched the paper towels though, so I’m confident we can at least try it out!
Reducing Food Waste
This month I made a really conscious effort to do minimal grocery shopping. We did go on vacation for an entire week at the end of the month, so our take out budget skewed higher. It was easier to grab a meal than to cook at home and have to worry about leftovers in the days leading up to our trip.
You may remember that our usual grocery budget, excluding take out, was around $800. I’m proud to report that we spent roughly $400 in February! Granted, there was a whole week+ where we were eating out on vacation, but I’m still happy with that figure.
A few things that I think contributed to this:
- Smaller, more frequent shopping trips: I really tried to only buy what we needed, when we needed it. It meant more trips to the store with kids than I like, but it’s a good learning experience for us all. The only way they will get better in a store is if I take them into a store. And truth be told, they really aren’t that poorly behaved. It’s just all the management while having to navigate my shopping list that exhausts me.
- Repeating meals/reusing ingredients: When I write out my meal plans and grocery lists for the week, I was always looking at what we were out of. I never paid much attention to the things we needed to use up. It sounds obvious, and I’d do it on occasion, but making this my first step really helped cut down on waste. It also made meal planning easier because I just repeated a few things week to week. DUH!! Why had I not been doing that all along?!?
We’ve Got a Compost Bin!
You may have seen on Instagram Stories that I received a compost bin from our city utility department. They delivered a repurposed garbage can with holes drilled in it. I’m sure it works wonderfully, but it was very intimidating for a complete novice like myself.
For starters, we had no idea where we’d keep it. The place that made the most sense was next to the garbage cans, but that gets a lot of afternoon sun and with summer just around the corner, it was going to get really stinky, really fast in that location. Living in the suburbs, we are fairly close to our neighbors, so the wafting smells was doubly a concern. We were also worried Astro, our dog, would help himself to what he would perceive as a treat bin exclusively for him. Basically, we weren’t ready for this big of a compost commitment.
My solution was to make a makeshift compost bin out of a Lowe’s bucket. AJ drilled some holes in the top to allow for air flow and we slowly added household scraps into it. Within about a week or so, there was compost in the bin! Right now, we are mostly putting coffee grounds, egg shells and produce scraps/peels/rinds, as well as dry yard clippings to balance out the wet stuff. There is a bit of a fruit fly situation that needs to be addressed. Although I don’t really know what to do about it because it just seems like part of the deal. I also don’t know what we are doing with the compost once we make it, but we can figure all that out later! I’m just mostly impressed that it’s actually working!
And, yes, this compost bin smells exactly as you think it would smell.
It was definitely a slower month in terms of green swaps in our house, but I’m really happy with the progress we’re making on reducing food waste. Changing the way I think about grocery shopping has really freed up a lot of my time and energy once spent on meal planning. And, my guilt is definitely lessened when I overbuy on produce, because at least now it is going on into our compost bin. I have a feeling March will be a bigger month for green swaps because a lot of my daily products are feeling a little light.
Stay tuned for my March recap!