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Happy Monday, friends! Earth Day is Thursday, April 22, 2021! This is a perfect time to discuss ways to conserve for Earth Day. Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
This third rock from the sun is the only home we have… for now (looking at you, Mars). That’s why it’s important to do as much as you can to conserve our finite resources.
I’m not talking about extreme measures here! You don’t have to move into a yurt or buy a Tesla to contribute. There are simple, small ways you can reduce the load on resources. Most of the ways I contribute are also a good way to maximize your money–something everyone will find helpful.
Here are some ways to conserve to help our planet out (and yourself too)
1. Buy in bulk
There is a whole slew of reasons to buy in bulk, but buying in bulk is a definitely great way to conserve resources! Bulk products use less packaging which means less waste piling up in landfills. According to North Carolina State University, buying coffee in bulk would save 240 million pounds of foil packaging waste!
Preventing packaging waste is a great reason to buy in bulk, but it also helps you financially. Not only is buying in bulk more cost effective, helping to save on gas and reducing wear and tear on vehicles, because you don’t have to make as trips to the store.
Some of the things you can buy in bulk:
- Food and beverages
- Spices (I get mine from Monterey Bay Spice Company or Amazon)
- Paper products
- Pet products
- Baby products
- Health and beauty products
- Cleaning supplies
- Office and school supplies
- Craft supplies
Get some more ideas from this U.S. News article and this Woman’s Day article.
But what if you’re a family of one and you don’t feel buying in bulk makes sense for you? You can buy in bulk and split the products with a friend or family member to save on costs. Going halfsies is a great way to do your part!
So, what about the money thing? Bulk items may seem expensive at the outset. Your upfront cost is higher but your cost per item or unit is lower. Amazon will usually display the cost per item in their listings so you don’t have to calculate it. It’s a bit harder at the grocery store. When I buy items at any store, I’m always pulling out my phone to calculate the actual cost.
Let’s use food as an example because everyone eats, right? I love canned green beans. Name brand cans are about $1.25 per 14.5oz can at the store. That’s 8.6 cents per ounce (1.25 divided by 14.5). Let’s say you go to your favorite big box store where you can buy 12-count of 14.5oz cans for around $9.99. That’s a cost of $.83 per can (9.99 divided by 12) or 5.7 cents per ounce (.83 divided by 14.5).
If you don’t like math there’s a savings calculator called Omni that you can use online to figure out how much you’re saving (it will round up).
Now let’s say your family eats A LOT of green beans and you go through 12 cans a month. That’s a savings of just over $5 per month or around $61 per year. May not seem like a lot but over time it adds up. If you continue to buy bulk cans for 2 years that’s $122.
2. Try to be a finisher not an opener
There is a great book by Gretchen Ruben called The Four Tendencies (https://amzn.to/2QvLeVI). In that book she provides great insight into what makes people tick, including discusses the concept of being a “finisher”, someone who doesn’t throw away a container until they use everything they can from it, or an “opener”, someone who is constantly opening a new bottle of something without completing another.
I personally am a finisher. I use every last bit out of a toothpaste or lotion tube I can, even going so far as cutting the ends off the lotion tubes. What I do is simply store the remaining tube in a zip baggie to keep it from drying out so I can use every last bit of it. Using up every last bit means you prevent waste and you also save money.
You can take a quiz to see which one you are on Gretchen’s website.
3. Repurpose all the things you can
In addition to being a “finisher”, I love to find ways to reuse objects. My efforts to conserve will be the subject of more than one future tutorial I imagine. I’ve discussed in a previous blog post how I reuse the inserts from Fancy Feast canned cat food containers and fat quarters. Here are some of the other ways I reuse things:
- I save gallon-sized reclosable zipper bags and use them as liners in the mini trash can I have on my beverage station. I use this to pour my used coffee liners and grounds into and best of all you can zip them shut before adding them to your trash bags, preventing the liquid from spilling out. My mother would be very proud. Both of us, like Schmidt on “The New Girl”, like our trash not to be dirtied by the messier trash. 🤣 Oh, and I buy my zip bags in bulk from Amazon or Costco by the way.
- I save paper and plastic bags from stores. The plastic bags you can use to transport things to other people, trash bags for your car, use them as a liner the bathroom trash can, collect puppy poops, or waste from scoop the litter box (if you don’t have a Litter Genie).
- Speaking of collecting things for other people, if you happen to have a friend who has an umbrella cockatoo then collect your paper towel and toilet paper rolls for them. Cockatoos enjoy playing with the tubes by throwing and shredding them. Rats also enjoy playing in paper towel tubes. You can also use paper tubes to wrangle cords.
- Keep vitamin bottles and other plastic containers for storing bits and bobs like thumbtacks, screws, or paper clips. My grandmother did this all the time, not to mention the traditional Country Crock containers. 😉
- I keep large glass containers, like for pasta sauces, and reuse them for cleaning my brushes when painting. You can also use them to hold pens, rulers, and whatever else you need to wrangle on your desk.
4. Recycle what you can
If you can’t repurpose, then recycle! If recycling is offered by your waste management company in your area, please take advantage of it. Not everything is recyclable so check with your waste management provider to see what they accept. For my Las Vegas friends, Republic Services has a nice page on their site that explains the basics.
You may be able to find a place near you that will pay you for your aluminum and glass recycling as well. You can recycle your old electronics as well and even get some extra cash for it. Visit Recycling Center Near Me’s website to search for a local reclamation center. You can also donate your gently used items to a local thrift store or charitable organization. Here in Las Vegas, the Blind Center of Nevada will take your old computers, cell phones, VHS players, and more and recycle them. They even will pick it up for free. Plus, you help others in addition to getting a tax deduction. It’s a win-win!
5. Be mindful of resource usage
Another way you help is to be mindful of the resources that you use. You’ll save resources and your wallet will thank you too! Here are a few suggestions:
- Turn off lights when you leave a room. According to the Google, you can save between 1.2 and 1.5 cents PER HOUR depending on the type of bulbs you use.
- Use a Dusk to Dawn light sensing bulb for your front porch light.
- Unplug electronics and appliances that you don’t use that often. This will also help to reduce the risk of fire.
- Carpool to save on gas and reduce pollution. Difficult nowadays but life will return to normal…sometime.
- Don’t leave water running while you’re brushing your teeth. The San Diego Tribune reports that you can save 3-4 gallons of water per person per day.
- During the summer months, schedule your lawn to be watered early in the morning when its cooler. It will be more effective and won’t put a strain on city water supply during peak times.
Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
That’s a lot of information I just dropped on you but, wait–there’s more! You can do other things to celebrate Earth Day specifically. Visit https://www.earthday.org/ to find out how people around the world are celebrating and learn more about how to conserve our planetary resources. There are a lot of online events and even some in-person ones that you can attend if you feel comfortable.
Because I’m a science nerd here’s a cool video of the Top 20 Earth Images of 2020: