In honor of St. Patty's Day (March 17th), I am making corned beef and cabbage in my crock pot this weekend to celebrate! Yum!
Today, I want to get you to think more about being GREEN, in honor of St. Patty's Day. Will you join me?
Here are 26 ideas you can implement:
A - Antiperspirant - Brands like Myro, offer customizable deodorant in refillable containers (mymyro.com) or try Tom’s of Maine, which has a free TerraCycle recycling program.
B - Balloons - Never release helium balloons into the air, and if you have a water balloon fight, pick up and dispose of all the pieces. Broken Balloons are among the most dangerous types of debris for seabirds and other animals. Better yet, opt for paper lanterns or other more earth-friendly decor.
C - Contacts - Choose two-week or one-month disposable contacts instead of dailies, and recycle the packaging. (Dispose of lenses in the garbage, never the sink or toilet.) Check out Bausch + Lomb’s TerraCycle program. Wearing glasses more often is an option too or ask your ophthalmologist if laser surgery is right for you.
D - Dental Floss - Most brands are made from nylon and come in a plastic package. Try using biodegradable silk floss in a glass package, such as Dental Lace (dentallace.com) - the packaging is refillable.
E - Energy - This is by far one of the most important resources not to waste. Ensure your home is well insulated, and practice smart energy habits: turn off lights when you leave the room; use the least amount of heating and cooling you need; take shorter and cooler showers. The Nest Learning Thermostat helps you aoid overuse and lets you switch off your system from your phone if you forget.
F - Foam Egg Cartons - Buy eggs in cardboard cartons if possible. They are recyclable and compostable. Foan cartons must go into the garbage, but ask the egg vendor at your farmers’ market if they take foam cartons to reuse (or if they will refill yours with fresh eggs.)
G - Gift Wrap - Unwrap gifts carefully so you can reuse the paper. You can also use pretty pages from newspapers or magazines as gift wrap. Or, if you’ve got an overflow of tote bags, package presents in an extra tote - the eco-friendly gift that keeps on giving.
H - Home Renovation Supplies - Refinish and repair what you already have when possible. If you truly need to replace something, offer your old good - or savageable-condition cabinetry, sinks and the like, on a local classifieds site, or donate to a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Then check those resources for salvaged replacement items that will work for your reno vision.
I - IPhone (and other phone) Cases - It’s hard to reuse phone cases, since the shape seems to change with every new model. Consider a compostable cse, like those from Pela (pela.earth), if you’re in the market for a new one.
J - Junk Mail - Recycle the junk mail you get, but limit what comes in the first place with the PaperKarma app ($2 per month; iOS and Android). Take a photo of the mail, enter your address, and tap Unsubscribe.
K - Keys - Metal keys can’t be recycled through most curbside programs, but they can be taken to scrap-metal bins at most local recycling centers. Keys that contain plastic or a chip may need to be thrown away, but first see if your local hardware store will take them.
L - Laundry Detergent - Try plastic-free pods, like the ones from Dropps (dropps.com), which are delivered to your ome in a recyclable cardboard box. If you’d rather stick with traditional detergent, opt for a regular plastic jug (not a soft-sided, nonrecyclable pouch). Give it a good rinse when you’re done and recycle.
M - Makeup - Many makeup containers can’t be recycled curbside, but check TerraCycle’s free programs and ask your retailer or the cosmetics company if it takes empty containers.
N - Newspapers And Magazines - Use newspaper for streak-free window cleaning, and place a sheet in the bottom of your compost bin for easier cleanup (soiled newspaper is compostable). Sae pretty spreads for gift wrap and craft supplies, and recycle the rest.
O - Oatmeal Canisters - Remove any plastic parts and recycle, or save them for crafting or storage in pantries, workshops and other areas of your home.
P - Paper Towels - Save stained or damaged clothes to cut up and use as washable rags. Switch to cloth napkins and hand on to all those extra paper napkins that come with our takeout order for when you really need a disposable towel. If you do use a paper towel, toss it into the compost bin when you’re done, unless you sprayed a chemical product on it.
Q - Q-tips Or Other Cotton Swabs - It is suggested that you should never insert a Q-tip in your ear - break that habit to reduce your usage and protect your ear health. If you rely on cotton swabs for makeup touch-ups, try a clean pinkie finger instead or a reusable cotton round.
R - Razors - Most razors you find in the drugstore are plastic-heavy and made with a combination of materials that render them unrecyclable curbside. Alternatives are on the pricey side, but the investment comes up front. Laser hair removal can cost as much as $500 a leg, but results are nearly permanent. A safety razor like one from Oui, ouishave.com, uses replacement glades that are both inexpensive and recyclable.
S - Sponges - Try plastic-free sponges you can compost (sqwishful.com) or switch to dishcloths (We used to use them, remember?), which you can toss into the laundry and use over and over again.
T - To-Go Cups - Most paper cups can’t be recycled because of the waxy lining (though you can recycle cardboard coffee sleeves and most plastic lids). Anything you can do to reduce usage is a win. Keep a reusable coffee cup in your bag and a ceramic mug at the office.
U - Utensils -Carry a reusable set in your purse, just like you might with a reusable straw, (Travel Utensil Set bambuhome.com). If you end up with unwanted takeout utensils, save them for picnics and on-the-go dining.
V - Various Packaging Supplies - Recycle cardboard boxes and save bubble wrap for future shipping needs. Air cushions can be deflated and recycled at drop-offs for plastic bags and wrap. Consider if you really need to order something online or if it could be bought and picked up from a locally owned store near you.
W - Water - Whether or not you live in a drought-prone area, conserving water is smart for your bills and the environment. A few ideas: Take shorter showers, turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and sudsing your hands, and use the dishwasher instead of handwashing when possible (just make sure it’s full). If you have a garden or indoor plants, consider unexpected sources of water - you can dump half-drunk glasses of water into the garden or even pour pasta water into a pot (instead of down the drain) to let cool and use on your plants.
X - Expired Sunscreen - It isn’t ideal to send leftover suncreen down the drain or toilet. Check with your local household hazardous waste facility to find out if it accepts cosmetics. If not, designate a large resealable bottle to decant all of your expired liquids and gets into and throw it away when full. (My nail salon uses a large plastic resealable bottle to put all of their used cotton balls after removing my nail polish - same idea.) Clean and recycle the other containers when possible.
Y - Yogurt Cups - I’ve been told yogurt isn’t hard to make, but if you’d rather stick with store-bought, buy the biggest tub you can and portion it out into individual servings in reuseable cups, rather than purchasing lots of single-serve containers.
Z - Zipper Bags - Reuse baggies and drop off clean old ones at your grocer. Buy a set of reusable freezer and dishwasher-safe food storage bags. (stasherbag.com)
How many of these will you do? Count up the number and share your results below. Let's see how who is the most GREEN!
*These tips were originally published in Real Simple Magazine - September 2019.