Those of you who have been following me for most of the last 7 and a half years may recall my mentioning at various times, our attempts to live a “greener” life. The words, “reduce, reuse and recycle” are big around here. Especially “reduce”. “Stuff” is the bane of my existence!
This post is sponsored by Tom’s of Maine, whose toothpaste I have been using for more than 20 years!
In many ways, living with children makes it more difficult to reduce our use of valuable resources, but not impossible. This past week, I partnered with Tom’s of Maine and participated in their 7 Day Waste Less Challenge. Can you guess what my #1 source of preventable waste was?
This all came about because when I saw a Tom’s of Maine booth at a recent conference I made a bee-line for them to inquire about the disappearance of my favorite fluoride toothpaste flavor: FENNEL. I chatted with their representative about their current good cause campaign: 50 States for Good. Here I am, looking super cute in front of their poster:
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For the #WasteLess challenge Tom’s of Maine sent us a snazzy Umbra eco crunch tote, a handy chart to keep track of our progress, a small book of tips (printed on 100% post consumer-waste recycled paper, I might add), as well as a few product samples.
The enthusiasm of my 6 year old at starting the challenge assured me that I have already been somewhat successful at instilling good reduce-reduce-recycle values in him!
The great thing about a 7 day challenge is that it is TOTALLY DOABLE. It’s not asking you to commit to changing the world or completely eliminate plastic from your life. What a 7 day challenge WILL do, is get you started, help you see where you can make improvements, and realize how easy it actually is to reduce your waste.
So how did we do?
Over the last few years we have reduced our waste by a lot, but my achilles’ heel is pre-washed salad greens. I know it is not that hard to wash and spin greens, but I have to admit I am addicted to the convenience of popping salad from the fridge to the bowl in 3 seconds. Normally I buy three to four of these a week! Just eliminating that for a week was a big deal for me (I eat a lot of salad).
You can see we managed to produce very little trash. Most days our trash was not even full. In fairness, we have city composting so our trash is always really low. The trash was mostly composed of food packaging like the wrapper from a block of cheese and so forth. One day I threw out a bunch of broken toy pieces. I’m sure you can all relate to that.
Most of our recycling was junk mail that we couldn’t put in the scrap paper pile, and the rest was food packaging. We don’t eat much processed food, so it’s hard to avoid — but not impossible — so that is an area ripe for improvement.
I encourage you to track your waste for a week, and identify places where you can improve. Here are some tips to get you started:
10 Easy Ways to Waste Less (even with kids)
1. Take your kids with you to recycling centers when you go to drop off specialty items like paint, electronics, or household appliance. If they see it happen, they will gain valuable knowledge about the life cycle of goods.
2. Find a textile recycling center for children’s clothes that you can’t pass down.
3. When you need to buy products like toothpaste and toothbrushes for your kids, choose companies like Toms of Maine that pledge to reduce packaging waste and donate profits back to the community. Silly Strawberry is my sons’ toothpaste flavor of choice. Learn more about Tom’s of Main’s commitment to wasting less.
4. Turn every piece of paper into scrap paper for drawing and art projects before it goes into the recycle bin.
5. Compost everything you can. Even little kids can help with the compost. In fact, tearing up soiled paper is even great for fine motor work. Win-win! Learn more about what your kids can toss in the compost.
6. Teach your kids to practice tzedakah. A compassionate, social justice focus and community minded outlook will teach them to value of people over “stuff”. Tom’s of Maine employees used at least 5% of their paid time volunteering and giving back to the community.
7. Pack school lunches in reusable containers and choose a stainless steel water bottle over a juice box. Not only is water a healthier and less expensive choice, it is free from a chemical-containing lining that will leach into your child’s beverage.
8. Use the library instead of purchasing books. Okay, I am a big fan of having a home library, but you don’t need to buy every book you and your child read. Use the library and you can afford to read more. Win-win.
9. Use rechargeable batteries for toys! We go through a ton of batteries for everything from toys to book lights. When their life ends, find an appropriate electronic recycling location, as they cannot go in the regular trash. (see tip #1)
10. Instead of buying material gifts for the kids, opt for experiences, instead. See a show, go to a sporting event, get a membership to the museum; the list is endless.
Get inspired by the work Tom’s of Maine is doing:
P.S. If you’re wondering about the cool beauty of my main image, it’s a photo I took of a public art piece by Izaskun Chinchilla Architects called “Organic Growth,” located on Governor’s Island, NYC as part of the City of Dreams Pavillion. “Organic Growth Pavilion brings attention to the large amount of waste in our landfills by repurposing a smorgasbord of parts and pieces from discarded trash.”
FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Tom’s of Maine, which means I received compensation. All opinions are my own. The truth is I have been using Tom’s of Maine products for more than twenty years and even though I wish with all my heart they would bring back fennel with fluoride toothpaste (hint, hint), I now religiously brush my teeth with cinnamon clove three times a day.