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Every Day is Earth Day

Back in college I took an environmental studies class. I loved it and, as many a cocky freshman does, went back home to show my mother all I’d learned about reduce, reuse, recycle.

And it blew up my face. Spectacularly. Because my mom was the one who schooled me.

She is a child of the Depression and WWII, so every resource was used until it could be used no more, and then it was relegated to another use, maybe cleaning or in the garden or in the garage.

I was lucky to be raised with her influence. It’s why I turned some cute fabric I didn’t know what to do with into cloth napkins. That was over twenty years ago, and we’re still using them in our house today. We still have guests say, “Oh, I can just use a paper napkin,” thinking these are too fancy. But these are our everyday napkins. Nothing fancy. I chose plaid fabric to hide staining, after all, but I’ve never had an issue in all these year.

People thought I was crazy when I used cloth diapers with my baby. I ended up sewing my own baby wipes too (one side a soft flannel and the other a light-weight toweling). It’s not for everyone, but it was great for us.

It takes a little effort to make better choices, and we certainly don’t have to be perfect about it, but if we all did just a little better each day, went out of our way to make conscious choices, all our small wins will add up to help save the Earth.

Here are a few ideas that you might want to incorporate into your life. I’ll include links if you want to click and see what I’m talking about.

  • Choose glass or aluminum or paper packaging over plastic whenever you can. Avoid single-use plastic.
  • Rather than buying wrapping paper, get some simple bags with a drawstring closure. I’ve been using several I received as gifts from Amazon several years ago, and I’m going to be sewing more this year.
  • Furoshiki, a Japanese fabric wrapping method, can help save bags. From food to gifts to anything you want to take along. All you need is a square of fabric.
  • Cloth napkins, reusable thin towels rather than paper towels.
  • Cellulose and natural fiber sponges.
  • Brushes made from natural materials that will decompose unlike plastics.
  • Bamboo Toothbrushes.
  • Reusable shopping bags. I recently bought some from BeeGreen, and they are huge. Even my reluctant hubby loves them because five bags hold what ten or fifteen plastic bags held.
  • Reusable produce bags. John has been more resistant to using these, but they come with the tare weight of each bag on the label.
  • Fountain pens. In last year or so, I’ve rediscovered my love of fountain pens. I inherited my grandmother’s pens and also started using dipping pens back in the 90s. Now I’m using the updated versions and buying my own ink in glass bottles rather than a throwaway pen I’m not too thrilled with in the first place.

I currently have a Lamy Al-Star, two Pilot Metropolitans, and a Platinum Preppy. I use cartridge converters for all of these except for the Preppy, which I’ve converted into an eyedropper pen, so the only expense I have is buying more bottled ink. If you’re looking at fountain pens but don’t know where to start, I highly recommend Brian’s videos from The Goulet Pen Company. His YouTube channel has a wealth of helpful tips!

  • I’m still using the mechanical pencil I bought in eighth grade for my algebra class too. Haha. Pentel 0.5mm led. Love that pencil, and it’s lasted mumble years so far.
  • Wide-mouth jars can be used to store leftovers rather than plastic. While you can go with the easy-to-find Mason or Ball jars, my favorite are made by Weck. I discovered these ages ago and bought them beacause of their curvy design.

My fave is the Deco jar, 901, but they aren’t practical for everything. The Tulip Jelly jar, 762, is a good choice for smaller items. They come in more traditional shapes as well. They seal with a ring and clip system, and the glass is thick. You can get them on Amazon now verses when I bought them ages ago from a specialty catalog.

What do you do to help reduce your carbon footprint?

I’d love to get more ideas. I follow the hashtag #zerowaste on Instagram and have discovered a lot of small things I can do to make a difference, but I’m always open to new ideas. When I got a gift using Amazon’s fabric bag method of wrapping, I was like, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” So give me all your ideas!

And for a few more nuggets from some of my favorite Instagram accounts, here are some illustrations.

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