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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Hug a tree, sure. And what else?

Ask yourself: What can I do to make an Environmental difference? This month, I am going to explore different things you and your family can do to make a positive difference for the environment.

It may seem counter-intuitive to give you a list of things to purchase in order to reduce your environmental impact. I realize that. However, sometimes you have to take some steps one direction in order to make larger steps in the other.

These are five things I am loving recently, as we embrace trying to reduce our use of nonrenewable resources at home:

Refillable hand soap with minimal waste: Yes, we have all gone through a lot of hand soaps as we try to combat germs and viruses and all of the other ick out there. Hand soap, generally, comes in its own plastic dispenser and you throw away the container each time. Sure, you can get refills, and that is definitely a great suggestion. I love this soap because A) glass bottles are much more easily recycled and reused than are plastic; B) the soap itself comes with great bubbles, great smells and leave your hands feeling clean and soft. They also have household cleaners in different formulas, too, all with the same minimal-waste packaging.

Reusable silicone good bags: This is the brand we use. Love it, would highly recommend it. There are a number of others that have good reviews, too. Why this set in particular? You can use it for storing anything you might otherwise use a plastic zip top bag. Sure, yes, I reuse those a number to times, too, but these are awesome. Leakproof, freezer and fridge safe, don’t get funky smells even when you store strong-flavored foods in them and can be stored mostly flat in the cupboard.

Save food scraps for composting! We are lucky in that we live in an area that collects food scraps to compost for the whole city. At any rate, it is a lot easier to save food scraps if they are not sitting in a bowl in/near your sink collecting fruit flies. This one has a replaceable charcoal filter, and unlike our previous one, the stainless steel doesn’t get banged up or rusty.

A cartridge-free inkjet printer. If your house is anything like ours, you cannot NOT have a printer. School assignments, work tasks, weekend crossword puzzles … Yes, we think before we print and be as paperless as possible, but sadly, not everything can be electronic. The beauty of a cartridge-free printer is just that: less waste because you will get ink in (in large quantity recyclable bottles) that refill the ink in the printer. Less waste, less hassle and much easier to change. I think when I filled the ink tanks it was the first time I ever did anything changing-the-ink related that didn’t end up with me having pink, blue, yellow or black hands! Nice! The linked product is the one we have; there are other good ones out there.

Not that all reduce/reuse/recycle efforts should be in the kitchen, but here is another easy switch that will greatly reduce the amount of trash produced: using these Swedish dishcloths basically eliminates paper towel and microfiber usage. The cloths are made from cellulose (wood pulp) and last and last. They dry quickly, and you can wash them in the washer if they start to get too dirty. Each one lasts up to 8 or 12 weeks! Imagine how many paper towels that replaces!

Some other things we do to reduce our negative impact on the environment:

1. Walk or ride a bike if you can, rather than walk.

2. Shorten your shower and reduce the temperature. Not only does this reduce the amount of water you are using, but it also considerably reduces the amount of energy you are using to heat that water.

3. Eat less meat. Beans are awesome and amazing! I have a growing number of veg-based recipes on my recipe site:

4. Switch your lightbulbs to energy efficient version when they need to be replaced. Not only do the new compact fluorescent bulbs need less energy, they are also brighter and last a lot longer.

5. Think about the products you purchase: do you need to buy it really or can you borrow it? If you do need to buy it, is there an option that might be more environmentally friendly (e.g. made with renewable sources, from a company that embraces more environmentally-friendly practices, etc).

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