April is spring cleaning season – and it’s also a great time to do a complete review and reset of your routines, making switches to be more earth-friendly. Luckily, it’s pretty easy for your busy military family to start new eco-friendly habits that fit a busy, modern life.
Easy Ways for Your MilFam to Be More Earth-Friendly!
Making changes to your habits and routines is hard. I get it: I’m a busy mom with two little kids. So keeping things easy and fast is the name of my game. You’ve got to give me a pretty compelling reason to cause me to change my ways.
And being better to our planet is about as compelling as it gets! By making these smart swaps, you’ll be conserving resources like energy and materials. In addition, you’ll be reducing your trash production and maybe even decreasing your spending!
Pack Food Smarter
What do you reach for when you’re packing lunches or leftovers? If you’re like me, you’re grabbing
Plastic bags can take up to 1000 years to decompose! Suddenly, the daily use of all those little baggies didn’t make quite as much sense anymore. Instead, we stocked up on reusable food containers, wraps and food bags. You could try:
- beeswax coated fabric food wraps
- bento boxes
- silicone sandwich, freezer and snack bags
- glass food storage containers
- biodegradable food storage containers
Using these earth-friendly options, after your initial expense, will save you money over time. You’ll be using your eco-friendly food storage options again and again instead of spending money every week on plastic products. Plus, using reusable containers is so much better for the earth!
Go Greener at the Grocery Store
You know what’s easy? Using the plastic bags available at every checkout in the grocery store. But all that plastic adds up. Remember, plastic takes literally forever to breakdown.
Instead, stick a stash of cloth grocery bags or totes in your car. Whenever you go grocery shopping, grab a few bags and use these to pack your food. This had become second nature to me, especially after living overseas for three years. Most Japanese stores charge a few yen per plastic bag to encourage reusable bags. Many US stores and even some states are following this trend.
If you’re worried about forgetting your cloth bags, run them back out to your car immediately after you unpack. You can also grab some compactable bags – ones that roll up really tiny – and just stick a few into your purse.
Stop Food Waste with Smart Shopping & Cooking
My heart breaks a little bit whenever I see food start to turn in the fridge or on the counter. I can almost see the money flying out the window!
I’ve managed to stop wasting food (mostly) by meal planning every single week. I try not to stray from my list either. Limiting my grocery shopping to what’s on the menu helps to end food waste. Every item in my cart has a purpose, a meal that is planned.
If you’ve got leftovers or produce that needs to be eaten, it’s time to get cooking! To make your food last longer, try these hacks:
- slice and freeze fresh fruit, like grapes, bananas and pineapples
- lightly cook fresh veggies, like corn, then freeze to use later
- slice fresh veggies, like bell peppers, and freeze to use later
- save fresh chopped herbs by mixing them with a little olive oil and freezing them in an ice cube tray
- use up cooked meats, like chicken or pork, by making a quiche
- make banana bread to use up squishy bananas; add in other fresh fruit that’s about to turn, too
Finding ways to save or use your “extra” food helps to cut waste and save money.
Recycle Everything Possible
Even if you’re skipping plastic products and cutting food waste, you might still be creating more trash than needed. A lot of things you’re tossing in the garbage might actually be recyclable!
To recycle food containers, first give them a quick rinse. Check your local recycling laws for more specific regulations. After removing food residue, you can probably recycle:
- yogurt or butter tubs
- pasta sauce and pickle jars
- cans of all kinds
- glass and plastic bottles
- plastic clamshells from salad greens
You can also recycle cardboard, including paper towel rolls, and papers, like magazines and even old homework assignments.
Have kids that like to craft? Me, too! Reuse some of your plastic, metal, glass and paper products in your child’s activities. Try these ideas:
- use big cardboard boxes for pretend play, decorating with paint, stickers or crayons
- reuse printed pages, drawing on the blank side
- use paper towel or toilet paper tubes to build castles or play “I Spy”
- build a tin can phone using cans and a bit of yarn
Once you’re done crafting, pop the items back into the recycling bins!
Following these simple tips and making easy swaps can totally cut your carbon footprint while also reducing spending.