Guest Post by Kaitlin Klopfenstein
“How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.” -Anne Frank
Blog post over.
Kidding. But really, throw out an Anne Frank quote and she says it all. And who’s more inspiring than Anne Frank? I won’t elaborate on her point because she’s already made it clearly and concisely. But I will disclose how I’ve acted on her words by lowering my environmental footprint.
[Please note: These are merely my quick and easy initial steps to reducing my impact. I applaud those who are near zero waste. I am far from it, but I believe there’s value in any lower impact step you take.]
Here’s my Starter 7 “Average Joe Approved” Lower Impact Steps:
- BYOB or in this case, BYOC : “Bring Your Own Container”
- Bring your own travel mug to a coffee shop – Some places even discount for this.
- Bring your own to-go box to a restaurant – I almost always need a box and given that styrofoam isn’t airtight or microwavable, why not put your food straight in a container so it’s ready to go for later?
- Bring your own water bottle wherever you go.
- Bring your own reusable shopping bags or boxes. These aren’t just for the grocery store either. Take them wherever you shop! Some stores give bag discounts too.
- Secondhand Savings: Save the planet and your wallet.
Every item you get secondhand is one less item that has to be made, packaged, and shipped to replace a new item bought off the shelf. Stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army are actually some of my favorite stores because you never know what treasures you’ll find at unbeatable prices. When I buy clothing secondhand I end up with brand names I’d never fork out the cash to buy new. Funny how shopping secondhand results in a better wardrobe!
Some places will pick up your recycling just like your trash. Where we live is not that recycle savvy. Instead, my husband and I have a few cardboard boxes in our garage for aluminum, glass, corrugated cardboard, plastic #1 & #2. (Look on the bottom of plastics if you have to sort these like we do. Your boxes will vary depending on what your area recycles.) When our boxes are full we drive them to a recycle center, and dump our already sorted boxes into their respective bins. Consequently, we don’t have to haul our garbage to the curb as often and we give disposables a second life.
- Power Up with Wind Energy!
We recently received a notice from The Sierra Club informing us we were eligible to have half of the power we use replenished by wind energy for no extra charge. For $9 extra/month we can have our energy fully replenished with wind energy. If small town Wyoming offers this option, chances are wherever you live does too. Google “Arcadia Power.”
- Kick the Keurig to the Curb (or Use Reusable K-Cups)
My husband and I switched from a Keurig to a regular coffee pot (with a reusable mesh filter) to reduce waste and quite frankly, drink better coffee. If you love the convenience of your Keurig, go with reusable K-Cups. This is also WAY cheaper.
- ½ Water + ½ White Vinegar = All Purpose Cleaner
Combine in a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil for added scent. It’s non-toxic, cheap, easy, saves going through bottles of cleaner, and doesn’t produce hazardous chemical waste. And of course, don’t forget to recycle the vinegar bottle.
- Go Amish and Make Your Own Soap! … I’m kidding. This is the “Average Joe List.”
Making soap is great… for other people. For me, I’ve reduced my footprint by getting bar soap instead of body wash in plastic containers. You can get bar soap without any packaging or with minimal packaging. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and start thinking, “But what about my shampoo, my conditioner, my laundry soap, dish soap, (insert every other soap here)?!“ Take it easy! This is lower impact. Start with the simple steps, and go from there. Maybe someday you’ll find ways to get all your soap package free, but know that it’s not all or nothing. Think of the things you can do, not the things you can’t.
Whatever you do makes a difference. A small difference is still a difference. While it’s easy to question the impact of one person making a few small changes, my husband once pointed out, “It’s everybody thinking one person doesn’t make an impact, that causes and continues the problem.” So wherever you are, just do something. Something makes a difference.