So, I was looking at my FB notes from last year around this time. I wanted to see how I did for the year, knowing that I did some things well and still need improvement in many areas. This was a list I started at the end of December 2009, and I simply kept adding to it. I'd love any suggestions others may have that I might add to it or ways you've learned to be less wasteful.
New Ways to Be Less Wasteful
by Susan Arthur
Dec. 29, 2009 - So I'm thinking I can start this list and keep adding to it. I like to put what I'm saving next to it to give it a value.I'm adding my new (2010) notes in BOLD print.
1) Shred or recycle ALL junk mail as I open it. Don't leave it laying around to waste space & time later when I have to keep picking it up. I take my shred to the local Humane Society so they can use it for the puppies. I throw it in my trunk & drop it off when I'm near the Humane Society. I also take shred from my office to the HS. P.S. I always shred anything with a name, address or account number. Saves environment and may save me from identity theft. I'm still doing this although it's been a while since I've taken a bag to the Humane Society since we now have a good recycle program in Richland.
2) Always try to make my steps count. If I'm going to the basement, think about what I can carry there so I'm doing two things at once. Saves time & energy. Still doing this.
3) I always keeps a big plastic bag near my closet so I can put things in it that need to go to donation. Once it's full, carry it to the car and place it in the trunk. Next time I'm near a donation place, drop it off! Saves space & energy. This year, I've decided I'm going to have a very large yard sale sometime the end of March. I have been bringing home copy paper boxes that are all the same size and have them handy for dropping stuff I no longer use into them, place the lid on them and stack them in the corner in anticipation of 'the yard sale'.
4) I collect those container trays that cookies come in at work quite often. I reuse them to take to potlucks so I don't lose my dishes. Saves environment and my dishes. I have more than I need now. My friend, Tara, takes them also so the ones at work never see the trash can. There's more than one 'earth muffin' in our office. YES!
5) I only use cold water to wash my clothes. I don't even have the hot water turned on to my washer. My clothes are always clean. Saves energy & money. My clothes are always clean. Hot water is not necessary unless you have someone in your home who works with grease & oil and gets their clothes extra dirty.
6) Keep all leftovers in reusable containers. I use very little Saran Wrap or foil. I try to use my leftovers as much as I can. I can do better though and it's a goal to try to throw less food away. Saves money & environment. I don't use Saran Wrap at all. I like those "disposable" containers a lot. I get a lot of use out of them and am not sure why they call them disposable. I did a pretty good job of storing frozen food this year. I've been on an oatmeal & blueberry kick all year. I found a container to pour the frozen blueberries into that's easy to get into every morning.
7) I save the plastic bag that crackers & cereal comes in to use for coating chicken or pork. I save my coffee cans for Gene to use in his shop. Saves money & environment. Just used a bag that Splenda came in last night to coat some chicken. I love this tip ~ when you're done with the bag, you just toss it ~ same as a Ziploc.
8) I make a lot of lists. When I have errands to do, I make a list to see how I can accomplish everything without backtracking. Sometimes I put things off that are off the beaten path if I don't really have to do it today. Saves gas & time & frustration. I've started using my Outlook at work to make small lists for lunch time. I usually only give myself 3 things to do at lunch time.
9) Take your own canvas bags to use instead of the plastic bags the stores uses. Saves the environment. This year I started leaving some bags in the trunk because I find I'm out the door and have forgotten my canvas bags. Maybe I should start writing "canvas bag" at the top of my grocery list!
10) Use a Britta filter and fill up enviro safe containers instead of buying plastic bottles that end up in the landfill. Saves money & environment. We just found a slim Britta container at the thrift store in The Dalles. Paid .99 cents for it. It's brand new. Fits way better in our fridge than the one we bought last year at a thrift store. The old one will be going into the 'yard sale' box!
11) Use coupons. Go to shortcuts.com Save money & time. I have not done well with this.
12) Buy bigger containers of meat and freeze in smaller package. Save money & waste less food. We discovered that Fiesta Foods, over in Pasco, has dynamite meat sales. We've been doing a lot of bulk buying & freezing.
13) When you need a household item that doesn't have to be new, check out your local thrift stores to see if you can find it used. Saves money & environment and it's fun! See No. 10. I've been looking for old Tupperware that's made in the U.S.A. that's still in excellent shape. Surprisingly, I'm finding lots of it in the thrift stores.
14) Share a meal with your spouse. And, order water. You need to drink more water anyway and it saves a lot on your meal bill and maybe you can give your waiter a little better tip. Save money and your waistline. Our favorite Friday night out this last year has been a trip to Panda Express. We order a 3-entree meal "to go" so it comes in a handy container with a lid and ask for 2 forks. We always get an extra order of shrimp for $1 and share a medium soda - total $9.65. We sit at a table, open the container and share a meal. Not exactly everyone's idea of romantic but it is for us!
15) January 2 ~ tip of the day for being less wasteful: Consider canceling your newspaper subscription. Tired of papers piling up that you never read? Tip: read your news online or read the newspaper at work. Saves money, your energy & environment. I broke down and ordered the paper a couple of months ago but I'm canceling it before the end of the week. I started out reading it everyday and now I'm lucky if I read it once a week.
16) January 3 ~ tip of the day for being less wasteful: PUT THINGS BACK WHERE THEY BELONG. This is all in caps because this is the biggest time buster for me. How many times I have gone looking for my (fill in the blank) and if I had just placed it where it belongs I would have saved myself time & frustration and yes, money. I still try to do this every single day.
17) January 4 ~ double tip of the day for being less wasteful: Take a shorter shower. Yes, you can do it! Use a timer & see how long it takes. While you're at it, start comparing your utility bills from a year ago. See if taking a shorter shower doesn't cut your bill down just a smidge. And, if you don't already, use the same towel all week. Saves time, $$ & resources all the way around. I started showering downstairs after Thanksgiving this year. I like that shower better and it has only one control instead of two knobs. Perfect for saving water.
18) Jan. 5 ~ tip for being less wasteful: Take care with your finances. Set aside time to really look at your bills to make certain they are correct. I do not use autopay because it is like "set it & forget it" and I need to be paying attention to what I'm paying. I still pay online but I have my bills set up so that I can just plug in the numbers & hit pay. This year I saved $30 a month by renegotiating my basic cable bill with Charter. They run 'specials' for 6 and 12 months. When that time is up, they automatically raise your bill. Simply call them and ask about what kind of promotion they are running and let them know you are getting ready to change providers. They will bend over backwards to keep your business.
19) Jan. 7th ~ Tip for wasting less time: put a map & a phone book in the trunk of your car. I can't tell you how many times this has come in handy for us. Instead of looking for the map every time we take off on a road trip, this has saved much time & frustration. Saves many dollars buying new maps (we have stacks of them). This works.
20) Jan. 8 ~ Tip for being less wasteful. I've been talking mostly about saving $$ but today my tip is about saving time. The older I get, the less time I want to waste. One of the things I want to do less of is sitting in front of mindnumbing TV. This winter I've got 2 nights a week with activities outside my house. See more in my comments. We spent Christmas at Cathy's this year. We watched 3 movies over the weekend. I realized I had not watched a movie in a while! Enjoyed their HD TV a little too much.
21) Jan. 9 - Tip for being less wasteful: Check the air in your tires. Seriously. Do you know how many pounds should go in your tires? Do you know what kind of mileage your auto gets? I'm pretty sure my tires needs air. This is going on my weekend to-do list!
22) Can't remember what this tip was. Uh oh. Don't lose your mind.
23) Jan. 11 ~ Tip for being less wasteful: Slow down when you're on the highway. See information in the link I've pointed to. Slow Down, Save Gas. This tip is tried & true. As much as I like to get where I'm going faster than anyone else, it doesn't pay. We paid $3.26 a gallon for gas in Tri-Cities last week.
24) Jan. 12 - Tip for being less wasteful: This is my personal favorite. Make your own greeting cards! I've been making my own stamped cards for 15 years. It's a hobby. I made all my greeting cards this year. Some of them were not all that fancy but I enjoyed writing notes in them.
25) Jan. 13 - Tip for being less wasteful: When you are making a trip to see your doctor, make a list of everything you wish to discuss. Thankfully, I haven't had to see my doctor this year but I'm getting ready for an annual checkup in January so I'm glad I wrote this tip ~ and will be taking my own suggestion.
26) Jan. 14 - Tip for being less wasteful: Hug your loved ones today. I'm saddened by the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti & can't really think of anything else this morning. Life is precious & I have nothing to complain about today although I probably will without thinking about it. Was that earthquake only a year ago? Well, this is still a good tip, no matter what.
27) Jan. 15 ~ Tip for being less wasteful: When traveling, be a minimalist. Pack "lite". This tip is self-explanatory but so hard to do the first couple of times. Saves energy & stress. We took carry-on bags for a week in Honolulu in February. It was awesome to just get off the plane and go. What do you really need when you are on vacation?
28) Jan. 17 ~ Tip for being less wasteful: fill your dishwasher & clothes washer before I run 'em. I don't use my dishwasher unless I have company. I prefer to hand wash my dishes. Weird, I know. I do mix my towels & jeans together to complete a load. I use cold water only for clothes. I haven't found an eco-friendly laundry soap so that's a goal of mine but I do use eco-friendly dishwashing soap. I still do this and I'll keep doing it.
29) Jan. 19 ~ Tip for being less wasteful: Experiment. So, I've been experimenting with homemade pizza this last week and different things at my grocer that I never saw before. Maybe I'll open up my recipe book and make something I've never made before. Doesn't that sound like fun?
30) Jan. 20th - Tip of the day: I'm running short on tips but here's one everyone knows. Just because the sign says it's 1/2 price doesn't mean it's a good deal. Be a good shopper. Right now is a great time for sales but I don't really need much so it's going to have to be a mega-good sale for me to buy right now.
31) Jan. 21 ~ Tip for being last wasteful: Use up what I have first before buying more. This is the hardest one for me. I get tired of the same food. I like reading other people's recipes and seeing how they change things up.
32) New tip: Used coffee grounds. To keep kitty from using the garden as his personal powder room, sprinkle coffee grounds mixed with orange peels around your plants. See Coffee Grounds
I've been doing this since the beginning of fall when I dug up an area where I'm going to place some rose bushes in the spring. Mr. Kitty thought it was his new litter box. Since I've started tossing my daily coffee grounds in that area, it's been 'kitty free'. I have not added orange peels to the mix but it seems to be working. They also say that it keeps the ants away.
Okay, well, there it is. I feel like I have a renewed commitment to be less wasteful. I look forward to any tips others might add. Have a great day!