10 Ways I Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Earth Day 2013

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In honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd throw together a post of various ways I try to be green throughout the year. I'm not going to throw any hard facts at you about how many square miles of rain forests being destroying every year or how much landfill space plastic water bottles take up, because, honestly, reading that stuff makes me a queasy. Instead, I'm just going to share with you some of the little things I do in this household to do what I can to REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE every single day.

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1. REUSE yogurt cups as bathroom cups. OMG! They're the perfect size! This genius idea came from my dear mom. She had been accumulating the yogurt cups from our various visits and on one visit, they just magically appeared. What a great idea I told her! I'm copying! :) To be honest, I never liked letting the girls eat the Yoplait Trix-type yogurts and would only get them on occasion, but once they turned "No High Fructose Corn Syrup, No Artificial Flavors or Coloring", I relaxed up a bit. We use these for the girls, because the hubby and I just use our hands to cup the water. We usually switch to paper cups, though, when visitors come and when there's sickness abound in the house. Even though we hand wash them super well in as water as hot as it gets, I just feel like we should. :) But even with that, I can't imagine how much we've saved by not buying Dixie cups over the years.

2. Baby wash cloths. When the girls were just babies, we managed to amass quite a few of these baby wash cloths, but we seriously used them like ALL THE TIME! Now we keep a drawerful in the bathroom to for the girls to use to wipe up faces (first) then feet before bedtime. The rest of them are kept in a kitchen drawer for the girls to dampen with water and use as napkins at meal times. It's great because they really do a fabulous job cleaning up those messy fingers and faces - much better than napkins could ever do. And now that the girls are older, one of their "family contributions" is to set the table and set out wet washcloths. We've saved a BUNDLE in paper and money, by using these instead of paper napkins... maybe even a whole tree's worth! :)

Update 4/22/16: And here's a handy way of storing and dispensing them. They are right next to our kitchen table where we eat almost exclusively. But even then, I will occasionally here, "Mommy, can you get me a wash cloth?" when the girls are sitting RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. In their defense, it's often because their hands are already in some sticky situation and they need to bet wet. But c'mon! ;)

3. Re-purpose cereal boxes et al to use as drawer organizers. This was actually one of the first projects (and maybe only? haha) that I undertook when by youngest went off to Kindergarten. My drawers were in serious need of organization and after looking around a bit for those plastic drawer organizers that never quite come in the perfect size, I happened upon this Pinterest post and off I went. Just look how awesome these turned out and I utilized every inch of that drawer. Not only did I avoid buying more plasticy stuff, I also saved a bundle of money because those plastic drawer organizers ain't cheap!! Here's the link on how to do it yourself: Do-It-Yourself Drawer Organizers Using Cereal Boxes

4. My EasyLunchBoxesLunchBots and Thermos re-usable containers get used A LOT! These are my go-to lunch-transporting gear and RARELY do I use any plastic baggies, paper bags, plastic utensils or even disposable water bottles to pack lunch. Just LOVE LOVE LOVE my lunch packing buddies. Couldn't imagine life w/o 'em! :)

5. Reusable BPA Plastic Water Bottles. My parents bought us two sets a couple years ago. You can find similar ones here: Reduce Everyday Reusable Water Bottles. It takes extra work to clean and fill these puppies every time, but I KNOW I've done my part in trying to REDUCE the use of plastics, especially when it comes to those darn recyclable water bottles. They are SO convenient and honestly, sometimes you can't avoid but using them, but I seriously CRINGE every time I see one. They are EVERYWHERE and people use them like ALL the time. I'm so grateful that they are recyclable and I think it's so awesome that companies have continually tried to be greener by making them thinner, making the bottle caps smaller, etc, but I still can't help it. I keep four filled and chilled in my fridge and must reach for one at least 10 times a week. I admit, I hate to wash them and refill them using my ridiculously slow fridge water dispenser and the hubby grumbles about them all the time, but I still do it day in day out, to make what difference I can.

Update: 4/22/16 - I've since added these to my collection as well. Glass water bottles from Lifefactory! They aren't as delicate as you may think, but I have broken/chipped a few here and there. Just the same, I LOVE these bottles and it's what the girls take to bed at night, every night.

6. Call me frugal (so much nicer that saying cheap! haha) or call me waste conscious, but I started doing this years ago when the foam pump soaps first came out. I quickly realized refills were just watered down hand soap gel, so instead of buying the foam refills, I just bought the hand gel refills, watered it down and used it to refill my foaming soap dispensers. I even use emptied, washed V8 Fusion juice bottles to pre-water down batches at a time and store those under each sink in my house. That's not only saving lots of money but packaging too, that doesn't seem to be easily recyclable! (I sense a theme here... save money and the environment by being green!) Check out my post for more deets: How to save on foaming hand soap refills

7. Cans and boxes make for great craft projects with kids. Take for instance these pencil cans. So easy to make, girls loved picking out their own styles of paper I already had on hand, and we were able to organize to boot without having to go out and buy them. Yay!

8. When I first joined Pinterest, I was obsessed with pinning "upcycling" projects. Though I haven't tackled many of them, I have done a few. How cool is it to make something that was once old new again and give it new life?! I've been pretty happy with the few I did try and still have a PILE of clothes squirreled away in my closet for future use even after going through a bunch to donate. Here's a sample of one of my upcycling projects: a shrug for Big Sis for a Daddy-Daughter Dance last summer thanks to Embroitique's Cool Tutorial on Easy Peasy Ruched Upcycled T-shirt Shrug Come check and even follow my Pinterest Board (Sewing for Me) to get more cool ideas!

9. Kids' clothes exchanges. Between friends and family, I get and give bags and bags of clothing  for the girls. What was once old for one girl is now new for another! In the past 6 months, I've  literally gone through 10+ trash bags full of clothes from family and friends and now I'm getting ready to pay if forward. Here are 4 bags that I have ready to go - either to friends or for donation to my local Goodwill or Dorcas Ministries Thrift shop in addition to the 6+ bags I already gave away/donated. Saves me gobs of money spent on clothing and boy, do we get some good stuff!

10. Reusable shopping bags. I've been using them for as long as I can remember. Certainly before they they had all these really cute bags you see today... so long ago that people used to give me strange looks when I say I didn't need one because I either brought my own or just wanted to carry out my items as is, bagless. Sometimes people would get downright ornery about it, but I stuck to my guns. These days it's much easier to use them for grocery shopping as well as clothes shopping and any other shopping that requires putting stuff in a bag. I had many that were starting to wear and fray from over-use but then I'd just patch 'em back up with my sewing machine. I called them my Franken-Bags. :) Check out some of my cool bags now. :)

One last thing, as simple as it is, is just RECYCLE, whatever I can! I love my town. We have curbside recycling and and I'm amazed and thrilled at all the stuff they pick up. And the stuff they don't pick up (like batteries, cooking oil - yes i've recycled cooking oil!, computer parts and other eletroncis, etc) can almost all be taken to the nearest Recycling Convenience Center or be scheduled for special pick-up. So be sure to check on your city/town's recycling page (usually found under the Department of Public Works and Utilities) to see what new things they accept curbside.

Here in my town, we get 65-gallon recycling carts that get picked up curbside, once every two weeks. I quickly realized that our bin was filling up way too quickly - way faster than our trash can and I was delighted to find that I could exchange my cart for a 95-gallon cart, free of charge, so that's what I did! For those of who who live here in Cary, NC and wish to do the same, here's the link to the Public Works and Utility page to get 'er done: Town of Cary Dept of Public Works and Utilitlies - Recycling Carts.

We can all make a difference, even just by making little changes in our every day lives, and an even bigger one if we all work together! So please REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE as often as you can. :) And involve your kids, like Little Sis made me do 2 years ago: Earth Day 2011: Little Sis Trash Pick Up. Haha!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :)

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Lunch Box Paraphernalia:


All sorts of awesome water bottles:


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Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)


JDaniel4's Mom said...

These are wonderful tips! We love to reuse at my house too.

happyvballgirl said...

Thanks so much, Dierdre!! Hope you have a lovely day! :)

Reduce, Reuse, Renewed said...

I love upcycle projects! Its a fun challenge to find new purpose for something instead of throwing it away. I just went to my first clothing exchange and all I can say is, "what took me so long?"

happyvballgirl said...

I know, it's like a game right? though sometimes, I can drive the husband a little nuts. haha! Wow, haven't tried clothing exchanges... I'll have to keep my eye out for one in the area. THanks so much for stopping by!!

Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick said...

Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

Kathy Shea Mormino

The Chicken Chick


Lisa Lynn said...

:) Thanks for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!
Hope to see you again today. :)

Erin Walker said...

Great post! I did one on my blog too...haven't used a paper towel in about six years! Great ideas!!

happyvballgirl said...

My pleasure! :)

happyvballgirl said...

Love sharing on your linky parties, Lisa Lynn! :)

happyvballgirl said...

Thanks, Erin! Just checked yours and loved yours too! That's SO awesome you've eliminated paper towels from your repertoire. :)

Diana - FreeStyleMama said...

Great ideas!

happyvballgirl said...

Thanks Diana! :)

Lisa Lynn said...

Great ideas! Thanks for sharing on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Have a wonderful Mother's day! Join us for the new hop today, if you have time :)

Joke Vermanen said...

This are really usable tips.
It also reminded me that here in The Netherlands things go a bit different.
The kids HAVE to use re-usable lunchboxes and bottles.
In the grocery store it's completely normal to put the stuff back in the chart and fill crates and bags in your car. In other stores they ask if you would like a plastic bag.
It's normal to use washable napkins and cleaning cloths.

But the other things are just a case of behavior that has to come to you ;)

Also 1 tip that saves us 10L (more than 2 gallons) of water every day.
Let the water in your shower first go into a bucket as long as it's not warm enough. Once it's warm enough step under the shower.
This water you can use to clean, wash etc. as long as the bucket is clean!
Since a normal toilet used 10L to flush, it saves us a flush a day we say ;)

happyvballgirl said...

Thanks and my pleasure, Lisa Lynn! Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day yourself! :)

happyvballgirl said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Joke! It's great to hear how other countries have so much reduce/reuse/recycle already built-in as a way of life. I wish it could be that way here in the States, but we are working on it. :) Love the idea about the bucket in the shower. I know we waste a good amt of water just waiting for that shower to warm up - seems to take forever! I may just start doing that myself! Thanks for the tip!

Linda Bouffard said...

Thanks for sharing this. Great instruction! Best wishes, Linda

Kerry Quinn said...

Hi, happyvballgirl. I love your tips. When I first joined Pinterest I pinned only recycle projects,too. I think it is an obsession. I really adore your idea with yogurt cups. Best regards!

happyvballgirl said...

Hi Kerry!! The question is, how may of those recycled projects have you tackled? Hopefully way more than me! lol. Thanks so much for stopping by with your sweet words. You made my day! Hope you have a wonderful one!