But back to environmental issues. To me, it seems that the secular community has really stepped in where the church has failed at encouraging and educating people about how we can take better care of God's creation. In attempts to avoid association with environmental groups, who often possess fundamental opposing views than most Christians, I sense the church has backed out of the issue almost completely. (There are bigger issues we have to deal with, right?). But what that means, is that the only message our society gets is from environmental groups that don't have a Biblical fundamental backing. Also, the underlying message that Christians hate the environment.
The scripture obviously doesn't state specific commands to reduce, reuse, and recycle but it does indicate that we are to rule and take care of the earth. And scripture also says that we need to be good stewards of what God has given us. What greater gift has he given than his beautiful creation that he took five days to make before man?
I thought I'd share a few of the ways that our family works to do our part in taking care of the planet. I am no expert and I am learning new ways along the way! It's important to not get legalistic. The important part is to make conscious efforts (yes, it takes effort!) to know that we are doing our part.
Disclosure: We use disposable diapers and it's a possibility that my daughter might be using them until she's in college. Unfortunately, she's not interested in potty training even if we beg her to save us money or to stop filling landfills. It's what we decided that works for our family practically and financially. So if your family uses plastic baggies everyday, no judgement here. Just decide what works for you! Also, there are times when I buy paper plates and utensils, like for parties and stuff. I don't feel guilty about it either! Again, it all comes down to making wise and practical decisions that benefit your family and the environment.
Ways we try to Reduce:
- We use glass and plastic containers for lunches and snacks to avoid using plastic baggies. Eventually, I'll probably buy some reusable baggies.
- I like to buy items in bulk, like flour, oats, rice, etc. This reduces our trash and recycling, but it also save in manufacturing and transportation costs that smaller packaging requires.
- Also, I avoid buying individually packed items and use containers at home to divide them up. So much less waste, and also it's cheaper. Works for fruit cups, chips, applesauce, homemade lunchables or even 100 calorie packs.
- We save disposable plates, cups, and utensils for special occasions. No need to create trash if we can just put forth a little effort to get the dishes clean. And I do like to get plastic items so that way it can be rinsed off and recycled!
- We only run our dishwasher and washing machine when it's full... but that's not really thing that takes effort! There are always lots of dishes and laundry.
- We check out books from the library like crazy people and I rarely buy books because most books only get read once or twice. I am not opposed to buying books that will get lots and lots of use.
- My family might think I'm super crazy about informing them about the toys that my kids would like for birthdays and Christmas. I'm not trying to be super controlling. What I am trying to avoid is getting toys and gifts that will go end up unused, broken and/or, in the trash within a week.
- I make sure to leave hangers at the store if we do buy clothing new. They can reuse and recycle and it reduces my trash!
- Ultimately, I like to reduce what we bring into the house to what we really need and want.
Ways we try to Reuse:
- Thrifting! Buying gently used clothing and other housing items is an excellent way to help those items from going straight to a landfill! I have been needing a crock pot for months but didn't want to spend so much for the size I wanted. I finally picked one up at the thrift store for $8!
- When we do use plastic baggies, or when we get them from friends or family, I always try wash and reuse. I realize this is a bit crazy, but my mom always did and so did my grandma. It actually works out great because we acquire baggies enough that I never have to buy them for the rare times we use them!
- I reuse plastic containers all the time, like sour cream or the containers that lunch meat sometimes comes in, even ones that fast food items come in, like baked potatoes at Wendy's.
- I often use old t-shirts for cleaning rags-- cut them up to whatever size you need.
- I'm not a repurposing furniture pro, but I did paint an old entertainment center to make an organizational shelf for the kid toys in the basement.
- Derek prefers a his water on the go from a 20 ounce bottle and isn't a fan of reusable options. He is really good about refilling the bottle several times before it goes into the recycling.
- I save our egg cartons and give them back to local chicken farmers. I've given them to friends, taken them to farmers market, and even posted on craigslist once. I'll email the guy from time to time to see if he wants to come pick up more.
- Ultimately, I like to give second (or third or forth) life to as many items as I can... even the "single use" items!
Ways we try to Recycle
- We have the option of recycling through our trash company. It's like $3 extra a month, but that's not much to sustain local jobs and to keep items out of landfills. Our recycling container is always more full than our regular trash.
- The one thing our recycling company doesn't accept is glass. I save the glass containers and make an occasional trip to a nearby recycling dumpster. A lot of times they are at schools or grocery stores. This is a great option if curbside recycling isn't available or an affordable option!
- While I try to remember my reusable shopping bags, there are often times I forget and acquire a ton of grocery bags. All of the grocery stores have a container in front to put used bags. The kids love helping with this task!
- There are tons of resources for recycling miscellaneous items. The local Converse store recycles old tennis shoes into rubber pieces for playgrounds. The local goodwills accept old electronics-- they employ people to disassemble so that parts are recycled and disposed appropriately. Target and Best Buy have containers to recycle old ink cartridges. I even read about a sock company this week who recycles old socks into insulation.
- Ultimately, I like to explore feasible and economical options for recycling as much as I can!
I'd LOVE to hear some of your favorite environmental friendly ideas! What else could I be doing better? I'd like to look into those gadgets you can get for where you plug in electronics that stop the power once fully charged. And we might try to garden this summer, too!