bathroom

10 Most Overlooked Ways to Reduce Waste: Part 1

Millennials love lists, according to my friend Julie, and she requested I put this list together.

This list is not going to tell you to use a refillable water bottle and reusable bags. Those things are on pretty much every list about going green, but come on, we can do better than that.

So I present to you:

10 most overlooked ways to reduce waste.p1 (1)

#1 Choose Quality

In life these days, we are inundated with cheap, cheap crap (and by crap I usually mean plastic) on Amazon, in the line at the store, and basically everywhere. We are enticed by the price, make a purchase, and within some short amount of time, that piece of crap breaks or gets worn out.

Into the landfill, it goes, where it will exist until, well forever.

We can avoid this by choosing more quality pieces when we make a purchase. When going for quality there are a number of things you want to look out for:

  • What is it made from? Choose materials that are known for their longevity like stainless steel or solid wood.
  • Who made it? A local craftsman puts time and hard work into their products.
  • What is the guarantee? Look for companies that have lifetime guarantees and will take back or fix your purchases.
  • Price? Yes, upfront it may cost more, but in the long run, it is something you will not have to replace.

Resources for making quality purchases:

#2 Your Lunch

First of all, don’t buy lunch.

Bring your own. Yes, pack up your lunch in the morning or the night before and bring it to work. I do it every single day.

But everything you bring doesn’t need to be destined for a Ziploc bag tossed in the trash. Make some investments (or go secondhand or use what you already have) in reusable pieces that you can pack your meal in every day.

Resources for a less wasteful lunch:

#3 Say No/Don’t Take Stuff You Don’t Need

This one is really easy, but also really hard at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to say no to people, but a simple “No, thank you,” should suffice in most situations when you are offered useless (but sometimes useful) stuff.

You are not required to take anything from anyone. If you have no use for something, just don’t take it. Don’t feel obligated in any way.

Here are some common situations where you can be offered stuff you don’t necessarily want:

  • Dentist (You can accept another roll of floss when you finish the one from 3 years ago)
  • Conferences (water bottles, magnets, pens, notepads, etc.)
  • Races (shirts, water bottles, drawstring bags, etc.)
  • Generic events (tote bags, glasses, hats, pens, etc.)
  • Sporting events (magnets, calendars, t-shirts, bobbleheads, etc.)

ALL of those things are the first to go when you declutter. You know I am right. 

Resources to say no:

#4 The Bathroom/Beauty Routine

Bathrooms can be a haven for where body lotions go to die in the back of the cabinet.

The first step is to take stock of what you have versus what you actually use and need. From there, swap out disposables for reusable items.

Easy and not so scary swaps:

 

cotton rounds

My washable cotton rounds

Resources for taking it a step further:

#5 Limit Online Shopping

Yes, Amazon Prime is amazing, but everything you order on the world wide web comes with packaging, and usually, it is excessive packaging.

I for one would rather shop in a brick and mortar store where I can see the quality of an item, and I can touch it and feel it. When buying online, despite how many reviews you read, you aren’t quite sure what you are going to get when you open the overly packaged box.

One thing I try to do is see if an item I am looking for is available at a nearby store for pickup. When shopping online, a lot of clothing stores let you see if your item and size is available at specific locations. You can reserve it right then and there. No shipping involved.

Resources:

 

Stay tuned this week for part 2!

Using What We Already Have

After moving in, K still had a perfectly good IKEA HEMNES mirror that we really did not know what to do with. We were not using his HEMNES dresser anymore and already had a mirror in the bedroom. So, for the past two weeks it has just been leaning up against the wall, getting in the way of everything.

It so happens that the mirror that came with our apartment’s bathroom was in really bad shape (so bad that I am not even going to post a picture of it) and we had planned on replacing it since we moved in. I had casually perused bathroom mirrors on the internet, but really we already had a perfect mirror leaning against the wall all along.

Since the bathroom is white on white on white, the black frame was much too dark. To go with the beachy vibe of our shower curtain and bath rug, we chose to paint it a blue ocean breeze.

mirror before

This whole project was finished in just over 24 hours. Last night I taped up the mirror, using an outdated bike lane map to cover it up.

Fun Fact: You cannot buy spray paint in the City of Chicago

Over the weekend, when we asked the employee at Home Depot where the spray paint was, her response was “Anywhere outside Chicago.” At first I thought she was joking, but then we did some research and it is true!  It is an attempt to curb graffiti. With no intent but to fix up our mirror, K picked some up when he was out in the suburbs and I got started on the project last night.

I craftily brought the mirror outside on to our fire escape landing and propped it on our compost bucket (serving double duty!) Since it is not a big outdoor space, it took some maneuvering to get all sides and angles of the frame. There were multiple times I probably could have tumbled down the stairs….all in the name of upcycling.

The frame dried really quickly because I used KRYLON COVERMAXX . It dries in 10 minutes and can be handled in 1 hour! After a while of leaving outside and periodically checking to make sure a pigeon did not poop on it, I brought it inside to fully dry overnight.

Some quick touch ups in the morning and it was ready to go! I waited a full 24 hours before actually handling and hanging the mirror to ensure it was dry.

mirror drying

There was already a screw in the bathroom wall to hang the previous mirror on so we decided to wire the back of the mirror instead of screwing more holes in the wall. I drilled two small screws into the back of the frame and strung picture hanging wire between them.

And now for $3, our bathroom looks a bit more cool, and we used something we already had. 🙂

mirror finished