Getting More From What We Have Helps The Environment

August 21st, 2011
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Waste not, want not is a saying I heard many times growing up and it’s taking on even more importance now with our environment under assault on so many fronts and many natural resources rapidly dwindling.

As I’ve so often mentioned in the past, going green isn’t just about the products we choose to buy, it’s how much of them we use and why we use them.

Nothing annoys me more than seeing a product that encourages waste and/or is being touted as environmentally-friendly without really having a valid purpose for most people – a product that creates a need rather than addresses one. Automatic insect sprays spring to mind.

But even in the products we do need, there’s usually a way to make them stretch further without undue inconvenience.

One of the most talked about resources we need to conserve is oil – and there are plenty of gas saving tips out there. Saving a bit of gas doesn’t only help environmentally speaking, but can also help your hip pocket. People are also becoming increasingly aware of many simple ways to save power as electricity bills skyrocket.

There are so many other ways we can cut down on waste and keep a few more dollars in our pockets. While some actions will seem quite minor, over time they do add up as I outlined in my article, “Simple Green Actions Work“.

Here’s a few examples of how easy it can be to observe the “waste not, want not” wisdom.

We go through a lot of tomato paste; pizza freaks that we are. That little bit of paste left at the bottom of the jar and all the smatterings on the sides of the jar, I put to use. I just chuck in a bit of oregano, a bit of hot water, put the lid back on and shake the jar. I wind up with enough sauce for my next pizza – and the jar is pretty clean so it takes even less water to wash it out before putting it in the recycling bin.

The same sort of approach can be used for tomato sauce and ketchup – but it only takes a tiny bit of hot water; otherwise you’ll just end up with a tomato-type soup.

Another clever food waste reduction related tip I saw was what to do with the smattering of butter left in a tub. Some keep the tub to one side and the next time they have mashed potatoes, add the mash to the tub and mix it around a bit – no further butter needed.

There’s also the issue of all the waste from vegetable preparation – but you can turn some of this waste into food.

In the bathroom, a little more toothpaste can be squeezed out of a tube not just by rolling it up, but by using your thumb to depress the area directly below the cap. A tiny bit of exertion can see you good for another couple of brushing sessions.

Similar to the tomato-paste approach, a splash of water added to shampoo and conditioner bottles when they appear empty can provide you with a couple more washes.

Soap slivers can be saved and melted or compressed to create another bar of soap. If you don’t wish to have these “mutant” bars of soap adorning your bathroom, they can be used for cleaning up after jobs in the garden or garage.

You might find your favorite non-green cleaning product that you just can’t part with works fine with a little water added also – particularly glass cleaners. By the way, making an all purpose green cleaner or earth friendly disinfectant is really easy to do.

Kitchen scourers and sponges can be put to further use once they get a little grotty for other jobs; such as cleaning – and the same goes for toothbrushes. While these will invariably still wind up in landfill, at least by repurposing them, it might prevent you needing to buy something specific for whatever cleaning task you’re doing.

Toilet paper is another item many of us could cut back a lot on, simply by reducing the number of sheets we use in each .. err, sitting. This can be also be a compromise if you simply cannot face toilet paper made from recycled materials for whatever reason (but if you haven’t tried recycled content toilet paper for a while, please consider giving it another go).

Often there is so much more we can do with what we have to make it last longer, either for its original purpose or by repurposing. The wonderful thing these days with being mindful is accusations from friends and family of being miserly can be easily deflected by saying you’re simply being environmentally conscious :).

With times again being so uncertain financially-speaking, every extra penny in your pocket can’t be a bad thing either.

Have some tips to help others in getting the most from common household products? Please add them below.


Michael Bloch
Green Living Tips.com
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