Tag Archives: reduce

How to be Eco Friendly When You Shop

I’m no fan of consumerism, even the “green” sort. I prefer building a habit of living more simply. But when it comes to shopping, there are a few ways you can keep things more eco friendly.

1. Buy Used.

This one tops the list because when you buy something that’s used, you’re not buying something that has required new resources to make. You’re not directly encouraging the manufacture of more of that item.

Garage sales, thrift stores, resale shops and even eBay can be great sources for used products of all kinds.

You may find that you almost never need new clothes again. Used ones can look great and still be fashionable.

You can buy furniture, clothes, kitchen gear, appliances, cars, toys, books and much more used. Check out the shops in your area to see what you can find.

2. Buy Products Made with Recycled Materials

Shopping for products that are made from recycled materials requires a bit of paying attention. You want post consumer waste as much as possible. Recycled paper products are fairly easy to find, but other things can be made from recycled materials as well.

One of the great things about using products made with recycled materials is that they may be recyclable themselves. Not always – paper can only be recycled so many times before the fibers get too short, and plastic quality degrades with recycling. But you’re extending the use of the resource when you use recycled materials.

3. Consider the Source.

There are many ways to be more eco friendly or at least fairer to the people who made the things you buy. You can buy locally. You can buy organic. You can buy fair trade. You can buy handcrafted products from home businesses.

While each of these can have more or less benefit to the environment, it’s important to realize that you can consider the people as well as the planet when you shop.

4. Is It Renewable?

Many products are made from non renewable resources. If there’s an alternative made from a renewable resource, in an eco friendly sense that’s probably your best choice.

Renewable resources aren’t a perfect answer in all cases, however. Many biofuels come from corn that might better be used as a source of food. Consider the source at all times.

5. Is It Needed?

This is the question you need to ask yourself before you buy, even if the results are otherwise eco friendly. Just because the clothes you’re buying come from a thrift store or garage sale doesn’t mean you need a gigantic wardrobe. You can of course keep sending the things you no longer need back to the thrift store, but then you’re wasting your own money, aren’t you?

6. Does It Replace Waste in Another Area?

Some things you should buy because they keep you from being wasteful in some other way. Reusable shopping bags, stainless steel bottles, reusable lunch bags, anything that keeps you from picking up the convenient but wasteful disposable versions are likely to be a good purchase.

Eco friendly shopping doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun shopping. It just means paying a bit more attention and not going for every quick solution that comes your way. There are amazing products you can buy out there that are beautiful, functional and made in a way that was kind to the environment.

8 Ways Being a Green Parent Can Save You Money

Having kids is expensive. You can find all kinds of numbers for it, some covering just the first couple of years, others including the cost to raise to adulthood and even getting into projected college costs. They’re always pretty intimidating estimates when you think about it.

Some costs can’t be avoided. Kids have to eat, after all, and they need clothing and shelter. But you do have control over a lot of this. Considering the environmental impact at the same time can actually help you to save money.

These are some ways to be a green parent that aren’t going to increase the costs:


While there are some costs associated with breastfeeding, overall it’s going to be far, far cheaper than formula feeding. Most breastfeeding moms still need at the very least a manual pump and sometimes an electric one, and that means bottles and so forth will also be needed. Not to mention that the mother is burning more calories, some of which may come from weight gained during the pregnancy, but also comes from any extra food she eats.

But you’ll likely need fewer supplies since you probably won’t be giving so many bottles. You also won’t have empty formula canisters to dispose of. And having baby’s food supply always right there is a real help in those early, sometimes challenging days.

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapering is a bit expensive to get started, although you can decide how expensive you want to deal with at the start. Just remember that disposables add up over time and would eventually probably cost you more. You can go with plain prefolds and diaper covers, buy all-in-one diapers or pocket diapers, depending on what you want to deal with and what you want to spend.

If you choose cloth diapers it’s important to consider the detergent you’re washing them with. I like to use Country Save detergent as it’s pretty environmentally friendly. I use it with all my laundry, not just the diapers.

If you’re in an area with a water shortage you may need to consider buying environmentally friendly disposables instead. Not as friendly to the wallet or to the environment overall, but in some areas water supply is a big enough issue.

Encourage Simplicity

This can be a tough one, especially as children start feeling peer pressure and watching television. You’ll know when it starts happening, as your child who was content with simpler toys suddenly wants whatever the latest hot item is. Plus whatever was just on the television. And that one too. The demands start coming and keep coming.

When this happens, talk to your child about why you like to keep your lives simpler, with fewer things. Children can be amazingly understanding. It won’t stop all of the begging, but anything that cuts it back a little is a help.

Accept Hand Me Downs

My kids get tons of hand me down outfits, especially my youngest. It’s really amazing how much this saves. Babies in particular don’t really need new outfits, and an outfit can go through a few babies before showing significant wear because they outgrow them so fast.

Toys can also be handed down.

Buy Used

What you can’t get given to you, buy used. Thrift stores and resale shops can be your friends. You’ll spend less on clothes for your family while being good to the environment. You’ll probably even find some really great outfits.


Whether it’s a tiny kitchen herb garden or a big garden in the back yard, grow some food. Not only do you then get control over what goes into growing the food with fertilizers and such (go organic!), you’re teaching your children about where food really comes from.

Be careful, as gardening can get expensive if you let it. Don’t overdo it on supplies and seeds. If you know another family that gardens, consider going together on some things. Seed packages can be split up if you aren’t going to use the whole thing, for example. Tools can be shared, although you need rules about broken or damaged ones.

Cook from Scratch

Well, maybe not everything. But as much as works for your family cook from scratch rather than buying convenience foods. This will save on packaging and can cost less. It also allows you to have more control over what goes into your food, so you can avoid the excessive amounts of sugar and salt that go into so many convenience and prepared foods.

It can also be fun, trying out new recipes and teaching children to cook as they get old enough.

Set the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Example

Always remember that Reduce is the first rule for a reason. Try to live it. Then reuse what you can, and send off for recycling whatever is possible in your area when you’re done with it. Many areas accept a wide range of recyclables, but in other areas you’ll really have to work to get much recycling at all done.

But reuse can be so much fun for children! Teach them to make crafts from things that would otherwise be thrown out. It will save you money on craft supplies and encourage them to think of ways things can be reused.

The 3 Rs with a Baby, Part 1: Reduce

Having a baby means you start using a lot more things. You can’t help it. Babies have a lot of needs. But you can do your best to keep things under control. This week is about keeping up with the the three R’s with an infant in the house.

Anyone with more ideas is welcome to share.


This is a difficult one in some ways, as having a baby means you will have a lot of new needs. You aren’t going to be able to avoid it all. But you can cut back, way back, on what people say you need for a baby.

Reuse is the easy way, but today we are looking at reduce.

I posted last month about things I feel you don’t need for a new baby. Not everyone will agree with the list, but it’s a place to start thinking.

Things I didn’t find useful included changing tables, multiple strollers and walkers. There’s more, but you can read it there.

If it works for your family, cosleeping also lets you reduce the things you need for baby. You can probably skip the cradle and maybe even the crib, depending on how dedicated you are to the idea. It works great for many families, but others struggle. Do what works for you.

Another key step to reducing what you get for a baby is taking control of baby showers and such. This is difficult, since you aren’t generally the one throwing the party, but if your registry is under control it will help. Better yet is if you can talk to whoever organizes the shower so that you can encourage simplicity and maybe even encourage used gifts in appropriate categories.

When your baby is old enough, making your own baby food is a great choice. You’ll cut back on waste by not buying so many jars of baby food. You will, however, need some other supplies.

With my first too, I used a baby food food mill once my babies were old enough for food that wasn’t completely pureed. It worked great, and I’ll be using my food mill again this time. I had one of the KidCo mills.

But I also want to use our blender to create my own pureed food, and then freeze it in blocks for use. BPA free baby food trays are getting easier to find, making it simpler than ever to make your own baby food.

There are a lot of things to be careful about with making your own baby food. You have to be very careful about food contamination. Wholesome Baby Foods has some great resources to help you figure out how to make baby food safely for your infant. I’ll be looking at keeping our current VitaMix blender in condition to be safe. I’d prefer to not have to buy something just for the purpose of making baby food when I have a good blender at home already. That would make a bit of a mess of the whole point to reducing.

Reduction is one of the hardest areas to come up with ideas specific to having a new baby, I think. Reuse, tomorrow’s topic, is in many ways much simpler. There are so many things that can be handed down from child to child.