Hi there, friends! I thought it might be helpful to pause mid-way through 2022 and share a personal progress report on how our household is doing with our green living goals for the year.
I hesitated to write this post because it seems to go against a key philosophy on Honest + Simple about living green: that is, that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others or beat ourselves up over all the things we’re NOT doing yet. But after thinking it through, here we are.
Why a progress report?
Well, it keeps things real for one. And since I’m sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, I hope the takeaway message is that perfection is not a thing when it comes to living greener. I also hope you can find a bit of inspiration to continue on this journey with me.
From the beginning, my philosophy on the blog has been to encourage us all to start right where we are and take baby steps.
Remember….small steps, repeated over and over can have a big impact.
So let’s dive in! These are all based on ideas and tips I’ve shared on the blog and are practices I wasn’t doing one year ago.
Giving myself an “A” for effort on these goals:
- Recycling Soft Plastic. We’re doing this about 90% of the time now — whereas six months ago, I had no idea this was even a thing. I search through our trash every day to retrieve any soft plastic that we’ve mindlessly tossed there (looking at my husband now) — but overall we’ve done well separating out soft plastic and bringing it to the recycling bin at the grocery store each week. Read How to Recycle Soft Plastic (and Why You Should).
- Replaced my plastic toothbrush with a sustainable bamboo one. I’m using a bamboo toothbrush from bite.com. Can’t say I’m thrilled with the product…the bristles are a little skimpy and the removable head gets loose and needs to be screwed back into the handle sometimes. The idea is once the bristles wear out, I’ll only be sending the biodegradable head to the landfill. I’ll continue with this practice but will look for a different product next time. Read 5 Bad-for-the-Earth Habits to Ditch in the New Year.
- Replaced questionable cleaning products with more earth and people-friendly ones. I’ve ditched all the old cleaning stuff under our kitchen and bathroom sinks and am now using only two products to clean: Castile soap diluted with water and a disinfectant spray from Seventh Generation.
The Castile mix is all natural, does the job and smells fresh. I added the disinfectant (because covid) and because Castile doesn’t disinfect. Read Three Easy Ways to Clean Your Home Naturally with Castile Soap.
Giving myself a solid “B” for making progress on these goals:
- Reduced Wish-Cycling. Wish-cycling is when we toss something in the recycle bin without really knowing if it belongs there or should be disposed of in a different way. You can read a little more about it in 5 Bad-for-the-earth Habits to Ditch in the New Year.
Where I’ve Improved: I now scrutinize the items going into our recycle bin each day and no longer toss in greasy cardboard or anything with food items still stuck to them (peanut butter jars are a biggie in our house). Plus I’m rinsing all plastic and removing any staples from paper, etc. Neglecting to do these simple things can cause a whole batch of recyclables to be rejected during processing.
Still Room for Improvement: I need to get better at checking the recycling numbers on the bottom of plastic containers. It’s a simple thing to keep a list of acceptable curbside recycling items handy.
- Refusing plastic bags at point-of-purchase. I haven’t written about this, but I’m talking here about those small purchases at Target, the pharmacy, farm stand, etc. where I used to mindlessly accept a bag at the checkout. Now I only take a bag if absolutely necessary to get the items to my car.
Still Room for Improvement: I should have cloth bags with me at all times, but that hasn’t happened yet.
- Reducing Plastic Shampoo and Other Bottles in the Bathroom. I wrote in 3 Ways to Reduce Plastic Shampoo & Conditioner Bottles in Your Bathroom about our solution of choice: we try to buy an oversized bottle of shampoo from a big-box warehouse store and refill our smaller containers at home.
This one is in the “still needs work” category only because we haven’t made any recent trips to the warehouse store and have had to purchase smaller bottles in the interim. Oops!
Giving myself a “Needs Improvement” (a.k.a. a fail so far) on these goals:
I’ve made feeble attempts on some of these, but I’m not there yet. These are very simple actions that just need my attention.
- Replace plastic disposable razors with a safety razor. I thought this would be a simple thing, but a quick search at Target, Walmart and our local drugstore didn’t turn up what I was looking for. It seems that many razors with replaceable blades are now made of plastic. Ugh. Plus the packaging waste is over the top on some of these products. Next stop…Amazon.
- Get an indoor drying rack to reduce energy consumption from our clothes dryer. I was going to go with the old-fashioned wooden folding rack. But then a friend described a better option (something about a middle pole with arms for hanging things?) so…I need to take time to search for the right rack that will fit in our limited space.
- Ditch disposable coffee cups / bring my own when on the road. I’ll be honest, I don’t order coffee out very often so there’s not a lot of incentive to do this. But still…it’s such a simple thing, there’s no reason not to do it.
So there you have it. A quick look at where we’ve made progress in the past year and where there’s still room for improvement. Now it’s your turn. We’d all love to hear if you’ve made some green-living changes in the last six to twelve months. Even better if you’ve adopted new practices not mentioned here. Let us know so we can be inspired!
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I have taken baby steps and would like to reduce my cleaning products as you have. And I will be more careful about leaving any food residue in my recycled containers. It it is good to have a “report card” on living green.
Thanks for your comment, Claire. It’s baby steps for sure — but we can feel good that we’re making progress at least. I decided that being held “accountable” isn’t a bad thing.