There are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of stuff we consume each day. Eat less, carpool to work, bring reusable bags to the grocery store – we’ve heard ’em all.
In my article, Practical Ways To Save The World: How To Make A Difference Every Day, I list a bunch of ways we can reduce our environmental impact and help people in the process.
Well, I thought of some more ways to reduce consumption…but you might not like them.
This list will challenge you to rethink your lifestyle, hygiene, and potentially your reputation.
I am not a dirty person by any means, but over the past few years I have relaxed my standards of cleanliness.
We are so used to hearing that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” but I just don’t think that’s true. And the consequences of working toward god-like levels of cleanliness is usually increased consumption of resources and increased waste.
So, I thought about some of the adjustments I have made over the years in order to incrementally decrease my personal resource consumption and therefore decrease overall waste.
I also thought about some of the things my husband does that I originally thought were gross, until I realized that his actions also reduce resource consumption and waste. Proof that even us natural born tree-huggers can be short-sighted at times.
I hope you enjoy this list and find it more useful than disgusting.
Please consider each option with an open mind before placing harsh judgment upon it. You may even do many of these already without realizing it.
1. Don’t wash your clothes after each use.
Aside from underwears, give your clothes a couple solid wears before washing.
For example, give pants and shorts at least 5 good wears, (unless you sit on some marinara sauce) or only wash them once per month. And try to wear dirty clothes when you work out. You’re just going to sweat through them anyways.
Of course, do the world a favor and give your used clothes a solid sniff-test first; but, consider relaxing your standards of cleanliness when it comes to clothes.
2. Use your dirty clothes as dust rags.
I once watched my hubs take off one of his favorite t-shirts, fold it up, then use it to wipe the dust off the coffee table. I gasped.
“How could he disrespect his favorite shirt like that?” I wondered. But then I realized that since he was just going to throw it in the wash machine anyways, he was actually being very resourceful.
As an alternative, you can use old torn t-shirts, underwears, socks, and other worn fabrics as designated dust cloths. I learned that from my mom. (I’ll never forget during my childhood chores when the dust cloth I had been using dropped to the floor, only to reveal its true self to me – it was a chunk of my father’s pit-stained undershirt. Better than his underwear, though.)
3. Don’t use hot or warm water for your laundry.
Is it really necessary to use anything other than cold water to wash your clothes?
Occasionally, when a load of towels is really dirty or really stinky, I might use a warm/cold cycle to make sure all the ick gets off. But for normal loads, I only use cold and never have any problems.
If clothes are stained or exceptionally stinky, do some pretreatment on the stain or soak the clothes in the machine with detergent for 10 minutes prior to running the cold cycle.
4. Don’t shower every day.
Or at least don’t wash your hair or shave in the shower every day.
If you work at a job where you get completely ick-a-fied every day, you’re off the hook. Also, if you workout every day, please have a decent rinse to get all that sweat off.
If you have to shower each and every single day of your life, consider what I like to call a “quick rinse.”
A “quick rinse” is exactly what it sounds like. You hop in the shower, rinse all the ick off your skin, then hop back out. This should take 2-3 minutes tops.
The main idea is to reduce the amount of time the water is running in your shower. Whether you reduce the amount of time during each shower or the frequency at which your shower is up to you.
5. Don’t use soap in the shower.
Okay, I can’t really explain this one in a few sentences. Please refer to my article, I Haven’t Used Soap In Two Months And Look What It’s Done To Me (article pending, stay tuned).
Soap is good when you’re dirty – like when you have actual dirt on your skin – or when you’ve been around sick people.
Anyone who works at a doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic should use soap everyday to protect their health and their family’s health. Same goes for elementary school teachers, preschool teachers, and daycare teachers.
Essentially, if you have a job where you are exposed to lots of filth or germs, use that soap in your warm shower when you get home.
But on days when you’re not exposed to filth and germs and on days when you’re not doing much, why use soap? It just dries out your skin and exposes you to unnecessary chemicals. Just think about it…
6. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.
The hubs and I agree – there is absolutely no need to flush after every number 1. Number 2 does require a flush (we’re trying to maintain some level of romance in our marriage here).
I really appreciate my husband’s steadfastness in this principle.
When we have guests stay out our place, we all share one bathroom. During this time, I tend to flush after each use so that our guests don’t feel uncomfortable or get grossed out.
But the hubs? No. He stays true to his principles. And I really, really appreciate that.
7. Never change your toothbrush, just disinfect it occasionally.
Don’t buy into the hype. Literally. There is no need to replace your toothbrush as much as everyone says you should.
Just clean it. Disinfect the whole thing in boiling water. Use those denture tablets to dissolve any nastiness between the bristles.
Stop buying so much plastic and find ways to clean the item you already have.
8. Use strained pasta water for some other purpose.
It really bothers me when I strain my pasta and dump a perfectly good pot of water down the drain.
Lately, I’ve been reusing that boiled water to hard-boil eggs. The water is already hot, so it takes less time and gives that water another use.
I’ve heard of people using strained pasta water for bread making and soup. I haven’t tried these yet, but you better believe that I’m going to write an article about it when I do!
9. Reuse coffee grounds.
This is another one invented by the hubs.
The first time my sweet husband reused coffee grounds, I thought I was going to pass out.
“That’s disgusting! How will that even taste good?” I exclaimed in immediate judgment.
Turns out, it’s fine.
If you ever finish off a pot of coffee, but you need just one more cup, simply add an extra tablespoon or two to freshen the pot. It seriously does the trick.
10. Rip or cut off the moldy parts of food and eat the rest.
This definitely applies to cheese and bread.
For fruits and veggies, like berries, tomatoes, or lettuce, simply discard the nasty pieces and any questionable pieces surrounding the nasties. The rest should be fine.
I don’t recommend this method for meats or rotted fruits and veggies. Use common sense.
Got anything else? Want to challenge this list and give us your grossest ways to create less waste? Oh, we’d love to know your dirty little secrets. Please share in the comment box below!