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*Using handkerchiefs instead of kleenex: Looking at my trash, I realized that a significant portion of of what I threw away was kleenex. Years ago, when I first started playing the flute, my mom gave me a stack of handkerchiefs to use for cleaning. I had only ever used 2 of them and the rest were still good as new. Considering that kleenex-for-blowing-your-nose was a deliberate marketing ploy to sell more tissues, I decided that there was no reason to continue buying kleenex for that purpose. Now, hygiene is a valid concern, but since I usually blow my nose a few times on a tissue before throwing it away, I figure it’s no different to use one handkerchief a day and then toss it in with the laundry. Your mileage may vary.
*Using reusable bags instead of disposable ones: I learned from my mom the many, many purposes of shopping bags: trash, packing, sorting, storage, etc. But even with all the repurposing, my stash of shopping bags threatened to engulf my apartment. So I decided to embrace the reusable shopping bag. Because reusable shopping bags are in now, everyone and their cousing is selling them. Don’t buy them unless your heart is set on the design. I had a tote bag gathering dust in the back of my closet; my mom has over a dozen at her own home. Tote bags are one of the most common freebies available at fairs, conventions, and conferences. Chances are some one you know has a couple to spare or you will have an opportunity to pick up one for free soon. If you’re into crochet, you can even make a reusable tote out of plastic bags. And don’t forget that you can also reuse produce bags if they’re still in good shape.
*Reducing Electricity Usage: I started doing all the things my dad always scolded me for not doing, like turning off the lights when I’m not using them. I also refrained from using heat and air conditioning unless I absolutely needed to, opting for layers and and fans instead (It helps that I live in a temperate climate). Instead of using the dryer to dry my clothes, I hung them up to dry; now, I had to dry my clothes inside, because my apartment complex doesn’t allow residents to dry outside, so it’s not as nice as it could be, but it still works. After reading about vampire electronics, I left little used appliances like my microwave unplugged unless I needed it. All my electronics were already hooked up to one surge protector, so it was easy to switch that off when I go out of the house.
*Reducing Water Usage: I’m an avid fan of long showers, so this was a little difficult for me, but I tried to keep my showers as short as possible. I also adopted a “military shower,” that is, turning the water off when soaping up. I scrap my dirty dishes and pop them straight into the dishwasher instead of rinsing. Finally, I started following the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” Not for everyone, but it works for me.
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