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Change one wasteful habit.

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We're all probably a little more wasteful than we'd like to be, whether it's the disposable produce bags we stuff inside our eco-friendly canvas shopping totes, or the perfectly good veggies we buy, with the best of intentions, and then send to the landfill a week or two later after failing to find time to cook.

Living more consciously can start with changing just one habit. Some suggestions:

* Buy one produce item on every shopping trip that's perfectly edible, but has cosmetic imperfections

* Change out one disposable household item for a reusable equivalent -- like swapping paper towels for absorbent cotton cloths, or trading in disposable ink pens for lasting models refilled with sustainably produced inks

* Learn a few simple mending tricks to keep clothes wearable past their first ripped seam or lost button

* Start composting

* Grow one food item you love at home

And of course, there's no need to stop at changing just one habit. Maybe one per month, or, for the ambitious, a weekly small change? Share your Story!

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Stories (8)

  • Chris Marshall

    I live in Los Angeles where we are suffering through one of the worst droughts in the history of the state. As a result, I am trying to reduce the amount of water we are using in our showers. So I grabbed an old stopwatch that I no longer use and brought it into the shower. I have set the timer for 5 minutes and this is the total time I have to take my shower in the morning. I think the average time people take for their showers is 20 minutes - which is a lot! So hopefully this action will reduce the water we use as a family and help a tiny bit to combat the impact of the drought.

  • Chris Marshall

    I try to bring my lunch to work each day - so that is five lunches that don't require disposable containers. I guess there is waste associated with cleaning my container - but I figure that this is better than the styrofoam + bag that I get when I buy something on the street. Plus there is the savings from the $ I would spend on this food. I can use this $ to help invest in my daughter's education or to give to a charity. But on the other hand, I am not supporting an entry level employee work their way up.... oh the pros and cons of every thing... anyway - my salad was delicious and I am still feeling good about it. : )

  • Caz D

    I've been on a personal kick to reduce waste in my house for awhile now. And no, I don't mean I've become a hoarder either. Wasting food has always struck me as one of the worst wastes. I was raised to appreciate food.

    But I started to do something about it when after one too many times when I went to the fridge for something and found it mushy, mouldy or slimy.

    For some reason on that day I decided enough was enough and committed to do something about it. I started small, deciding to not fill the fridge quite so tightly. Buy only what I needed and no more. Shop more frequently for smaller quantities. I can do this because I walk past a green grocer on my way to and from work. This won't work for everyone.

    Then I started writing a list of what is in the fridge on the front door and using that to make sure that I ate what I had before buying more or worse, going out for something else.

    Now I use a phone app to keep track of staples too, so I don't overstock on cardamom and run out of cumin.

    I also have a mandatory one leftover night each week. Where I create my meal from bits and pieces. This is easy for me, because I quite like leftovers. Some people don't, I didn't even know that was possible. But some of my fondest childhood memories are about my dad's cooking up some variation of 'hash' and sitting down with him to eat.

    My latest addition to my bag of tricks, is growing onions and Cos (Romaine) lettuce from the root end trimmed from an onion. It is a bit of a trick, because I use the onions faster than I can grow new ones. Ditto the lettuce. But I like it anyway.

    My gardening is confined to pots in a courtyard and I'm not quite ready to install a tumble composting bin the size of a cement mixer. Then again, furrow composting just might work in my pots.

  • Katarzyna Stecko

    Finally, I have a flat with a proper balcony on which I started to grow my own veg. It is fun, satisfying and it helps me in reducing waste at home.

    The one thing I am most proud of is that I have stopped to buy lettuce of any kind in those plastic boxes. The portions are too big for one person household, so I was always throwing away some leftovers. Right now I have a lovely pot full of rocket salad, always fresh and ready to eat. Grown it from the seed, which was really cool. I also planted a tomato and some radish. These are surprisingly easy to grow. All they need is water and some sun.

    There are some great resources online on how to grow these. And you don't need a balcony at all. They really don't take up so much space, a windowsill will do! I encourage everyone to give it a go. Nothing tastes like a fresh radish you have just pulled out from the ground!

  • Debbi Reinschmiedt

    When we realized that much of our weekly grocery shopping was ending up in the compost bin, we decided it was time to change. Since we live less than 4 blocks from our local grocery, we decided to return to European shopping and now, for the most part, we have just what we need.

  • Thierry Phillips

    Start with basics. We recycle at least 95% of ALL paper and paper products into mulch (someday we WILL get the methane digester/composting toilet together at our location NOT constrained by idiotic zoning and other regs after we install the first batch of PV panels) after reusing to the max what is useful, to avoid unnecessary consumption of new paper. We try to conserve electricity both personal and business (our average business consumption with electric heat is 850 kW-h/mo., and we constantly find ways to cut waste). We recycle ALL accepted scrap (ferrous and non-), glass (bottles we'll reuse), what paper and cardboard we don't mulch that is accepted locally, plastic we have to ship out to recycle. Outside of town, NO water is wasted into a sewer. We are very poor by US standards, and I understand mostly these are first-world solutions, but these are the beginning; upcoming plans include progressively eliminating the use of any open-cycle carbon-fueled vehicles or devices that depend on commercial carbon-based supplies (we're on a PPA with Pear Energy for now.)

  • Lloyd Lutterman

    Pick up others discarded debris, aluminum, plastic coca cola bottles, lottery tickets and reallocate, recycle to proper demise. Drive 4 cyl car. Buy local products. Use machine washable cloth tote bags. Bank through local credit union. Garden organic. Compost. Vend others unwanted and abandoned discarded items at local flea market. Mow around patches of clover in my yard, honeybees preferred flower. Turn water heater down to appropriate temperature. Shower only when necessary. Etc.

  • Jelena Woehr

    My waste-less habit is to cook all the produce I buy -- or freeze what I absolutely can't cook, in handy portions for later cooking. At least once a week I treat my own fridge like a cooking show challenge and determine to come up with a meal using everything in the fridge that looks a little long in the tooth. Funny enough, when I share my creations on social media, I get lots of recipe requests. So far, nobody has caught onto that these are "everything left in the fridge" meals, not painstakingly planned creations.