Happy Earth Day! I’m proud to say that this year Ryan and I have made a lot of changes to decease our environmental impact. Once we decided to cloth diaper we realized how much of the rest of our lives seem disposable. Everything around us is individually packaged or made to be thrown out after one use. While we still have a long way to go, I would love to share with you some of the ways we are not only going green, but how we are saving money doing it as well.
1. Cloth Diapering: I will start here since this motivated us to make the switch. A disposable diaper takes about 500 years to decompose in a landfill. The EPA reports that 20 billion diapers or 3.5 million tons of diaper waste is dumped in landfills each year. By switching to cloth diapers, you can save over $2,000 per child and another $500 if you choose cloth wipes as well. They are also adorably cute. See more details here.
2. Unpaper Towels: This has been a big money saver for us. We received several white dishcloths as a present. Now we grab those whenever we would normally use paper towels. We have not bought paper towels yet this year. We do keep some on hand for pet messes, but we are lucky that those are pretty rare. The initial cost of switching to cloth is minimal and it can be washed with your regular laundry.
3. Cloth Napkins: Similar to paper towels, you can invest in some cheap cloth napkins and save bundles on buying paper. It seems much nicer to use cloth anyways and it looks great when you set the table.
4. Reusable Grocery Bags: I received these for Christmas and it has saved so many plastic bags from making it into a landfill. We keep them in our car so that we have them when we make a last minute trip to the store. I have these grocery bags and these produce bags. Our grocery store also gives you $.05 for every bag you bring in, which is a nice bonus too. The initial cost of these bags is very reasonable.
5. Reusable Sandwich Bags: Ryan travels for work and takes a lunch with him. We have switched to reusable sandwich and snack bags. These are food safe and come in many prints and colors. You can purchase them here. I can’t remember the last time I bought ziplock bags! Nicki’s Diapers often adds these to your order for free, so we have only purchased a few ourselves.
6. Compost: Depending on if you pay for garbage pick up, composting can save you a ton of money. We feed most of our vegetable scraps to the chickens, but you can compost so many things! The EPA estimates that Americans create 14 million tons of food waste each year. 4% is composted. Check out this page for more info and a great explanation of what can be composted.
7. Gardening: You can save so much money by growing your own food. Even if you are limited on yard space, you can start a container garden! If you can’t garden in your space, be sure to check out your local farmers market. When you buy local produce or grow your own you are saving the earth by reducing pollution caused by transportation. Don’t buy your produce from Mexico, buy it from your neighbor!
8. Keep Chickens: It’s no secret that I love chickens. We raise them for eggs and meat each year. After the initial start up cost, it is relatively inexpensive to keep chickens and they keep us in eggs and meat. The meat birds are only a 6-8 week commitment and feed us all year long. Chickens do not require a lot of space or time. If you have ever considered keeping chickens, take the plunge this year! You won’t regret it.
9. Reduce Weekly Waste: Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year according to the EPA. We have decided to challenge ourselves to see how much we can reduce our waste. When shopping, choose items that are not individually packaged. It is so easy to buy the yogurt that comes individually packaged, but how is it any difference than the tub? The larger container is often cheaper and creates less waste.
10. Don’t Buy Bottled Water: This is a big problem for me. In the past we have always bought things in bottles and cans. We recycle, but it would be much better to buy larger containers and drink from the faucet instead. I hope this will be our biggest change this year!
I hope this has inspired you to take the plunge and make a change this year! Happy Earth Day!