5 unexpected ways to reduce your environmental impact

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Five unexpected ways that your family can reduce your environmental impact.

We try as hard as we can to “live green” around here. Being from California, a lot of it is second nature for us, like turning the water off when you're brushing your teeth, or separating our recycling and having a compost bin on the kitchen counter. Just because there are some things we do without thinking, that certainly doesn't mean that we can't do things to reduce our impact even further.

Of course, there are the obvious things, like taking shorter showers, turning the lights off when you leave the room, and recycling your glass, plastic and paper items. But what about some things that might not be quite so obvious? I've got a few ideas for you, and would love to hear what else you might do.

Buy in bulk and keep in smaller containersBuy in Bulk #BringingInnovation #ad

I don't know about you, but I was always brought up to think of warehouse shopping as a money-saving endeavor, more than an environmental one, but there are things that can greatly reduce waste when you buy them in bulk. We buy white rice 25 lbs at a time, and keep it in a big bucket in the garage. (A clean bucket purchased just for this purpose; you can get bucket and lid for less than $10 at your local hardware store)

We use a big glass jar to keep rice close at hand and to free up space in the pantry. Instead of buying 25 1-lb bags of rice, we purchase one big bag, keeping about 20 bags worth of trash out of the landfill. Some other things we buy in bulk and store include coffee beans (we grind fresh every morning), flour, and sugar.

Shop thrift and consignment shopsShop consignment #BringingInnovation #ad

This is another one that is obviously about saving money too, but many people forget the environmental impacts of clothing. I love shopping consignment, because it allows me to find high-quality pieces at great prices, without adding more new stuff into the cycle. I spent less than $50 for the three dresses shown above; if I'd bought them at retail, they would have easily gone for about $100 each. Good for the wallet AND the planet? I'm in.

Buy used when possible for other things, tooCast Iron Pans #BringingInnovation #ad

Like clothing, buying other things used is also a way to help conserve. There are some things I don't buy used; I'm certainly not going to buy used undergarments, and generally avoid buying things that can be worn out. Like I wouldn't buy a used blender, because I have no way of knowing how much the motor has been used.

One thing though, that is actually improved by buying used is cast iron cookware. Jamie loves to find rusted old pieces at the flea market and then recondition and restore them. Old cast iron is amazing, and can actually cost a bit more than buying new. But it's worth it. An old pan, with a generation's worth of seasoning on it is a valuable addition to any cook's collection.

Buy Energizer EcoAdvanced batteriesEnergizer Eco Packaging #BringingInnovation #ad

While batteries aren't the first thing that come to mind when you think about “environmentally conscious,” Energizer's brand new Eco Advanced batteries are making them a whole lot friendlier. The EcoAdvanced batteries actually use old recycled batteries for some of the materials, AND they are Energizer's longest-lasting alkaline battery ever. Available in AA and AAA sizes, these batteries will hold their power for up to 12 years in storage, so don't be afraid to stock up!Energizer Eco instore #BringingInnovation #ad

I picked up my EcoAdvanced at Walmart, where I found them right at the checkout stand, making them easy to grab as I prepared to pay. It's like having a source of guilt-free energy, knowing that they used old batteries to make these new ones. As parents, we go through many, many AA batteries around here; my computer mouse uses one, but Max's variety of toys can go through nearly a dozen batteries a month. That's an awful lot of batteries! While I'm on the subject of repurposing old things, the last thing on my list is…

Repurpose old/damaged textilesUpcycled Pillow #BringingInnovation #ad

How cute is this throw pillow? It's a case of something being worth more than the sum of its parts, right? I had an old sweater that had a big stain on the sleeve, and an ugly throw pillow that I was tired of looking at. Using the torso part of the sweater, I easily recovered the old pillow with this fun new look, giving me a cute and cozy new pillow for the living room!

If I really wanted to go hard core, I probably could have turned the sleeves into legwarmers or something, but I didn't want to get carried away. 😉 I've also seen t-shirt collections turned into quilts and stuffed animals, if you have pieces that have sentimental value but you want something to do with them other than just leaving them in the bottom drawer.

So tell me, what do YOU do to help reduce your impact?

And as long as you're here, why not enter the GuiltFreeEnergy giveaway? You could win up to $1000 in gift cards.

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